While walking around the main streets of Varanasi, I couldn’t help but notice huge pots and pans full of a yellow fluffy substance topped with little green sprinkles.
Every now and then someone would stop by, grab a quick clay cup full, and speedily nurse it down with a sigh of satisfaction, before smashing the clay cup on the ground (just like the chai in Kolkata).
I was of course interested to test it for myself, and without having a clue as to what this Indian street food was, I ordered a serving.
Soon I learned it is a sweet Indian dessert called malaiyo, and it’s a winter sweet treat specifically famous in Varanasi as opposed to other parts of India.
In order to handle the crowds of pedestrian foot traffic on the streets of Varanasi (video), the malaiyo vendor had dished out about 20 or so clay cups and lined them up on the top of his street food cabinet, all of them waiting to entice a customer.
I grabbed one from the line, paid my 10 Rupees ($0.18) and stood on the side of the extremely chaotic road for my first taste.
It tasted like egg nog, thick and creamy, but had the texture of airy foam – it was that light. Within the milk there was lots of cardamom, giving it a lovely flavor and on top were a few slivers of pistachio nuts.
I really thought I was eating soap suds, but it was creamy, buttery, and full of cardamom.
If you are traveling to Varanasi in the winter month, take a walk away from the Ganges River and onto the main streets where you’ll find vendors serving up huge pans of malaiyo!