What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you are travelling by road? Is it the destination that you think more about or the journey or the company or a combination of the three? The ideal order should be the company that makes the journey memorable for a perfect vacation.
India, however, is one place where food is not just an element of a trip but, what makes the trip. When it comes to food in a journey, would you really think of the best hotel, restaurant or bar to stop? Dhaba would be the perfect option for a perfect journey where you can get the freshest piping hot food prepared right in front of your eyes.
What traditionally used to be rickety roadside shops in the open with cane stools and tables are now fully-renovated ones with air-conditioners, chairs and tables and neat and clean ambiance just to add comfort to your food-full journey. From what used to be the haunts for truck drivers are now family places that suit the needs of all travellers.
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Moreover, when the highway we are talking about is National Highway #1 or NH 1, which is now a well-planned out highway and the lighting is one of the evidences of a well-planned highway. The vast stretch of roughly 450 kilometres includes three prominent states – Delhi’s Outer Ring Road, Haryana and Punjab. This is one of the longest and oldest highways in the country. Breaking it further down to cities, there are Delhi, Sonipat, Panipat, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ambala, Rajpura, Ludhiana, Phagwara, Jalandhar, and Amritsar.
The beauty of the food at dhabas on this highway is traditional Punjabi meals starting with stuffed parathas, with dal makhni, and other vegetarian and non-vegetarian gravies, accompanied with cold lassi and ending with piping hot tea. However, keeping all generations in mind, the menus at the dhabas have be re-invented giving way to more cuisine options such as Chinese, Continental, Italian, and Finger Food.
Here is the list of the best dhabas out of the many haunts spotted on the NH1.
Sunil Dhaba/Pehelwan Dhaba/Mannat Dhaba, Sonipat
A small village in Sonipat, Haryana named Murthal is home to a myriad roadside dhabas, however, the best picks are, Sunil Dhaba, Pehelwan Dhaba, and Mannat Dhaba. The USPs of these dhabas is the stuffed aloo pyaaz, paneer, or mixed vegetable parathas with dal makhni and a glass of lassi. Do not forget their irresistible hot cup of tea which can be customized as per your taste.
Haveli/Mayur Dhaba, Karnal
As you move further, the next pit stop should be Karnal and Haveli is the place to gorge on some delicious authentic Punjabi food in a village-themed restaurant. The rajma rice, puri choley, jalebi and lassi deserve special recommendations here. If your palate needs some decadent non-vegetarian food, Mayur Dhaba would be the best option for you. They prepare the best chicken and mutton dishes such as, butter chicken.
Puran Singh ka Mashoor Vishal Dhaba, Ambala
When you reach Ambala Cantt, you will be amazed to spot a number of Puran Singh dhabas, however, you need to ensure that you only stop at Puran Singh ka Mashoor Vishal Dhaba. Satiate your craving for lip-smacking non-vegetarian delights with mutton curry, chicken curry and keema kaleji along with some butter-laden bread.
Zimidara Dhaba, Ludhiana
What earlier used to be Zamindara Dhaba is now Zimidara Dhaba. This is still one of those dhabas where you need to verbally communicate your order from what the server narrates to you. Earlier one could only get vegetarian delights here, however, now you can also enjoy non-vegetarian fare. Dal makhni, kadi chawal, and kadhai paneer here are not to be missed.
Lucky Dhaba, Jalandhar
Lucky Dhaba has been one of the most popular halts among foodies enroute Amritsar located on the highway that crosses Jalandhar. Since inception, their quality and standards have been consistent in serving their patrons. The menu hits here include, shahi paneer, dal makhni and kheer.
Unlike the Haveli in Karnal, this Haveli is right on the Jalandhar highway dishing out lip-smacking Punjabi fare. The highlights here include, makki ki roti and sarson ka saag, hot parathas, and creamy lassi that might make you want to doze off.