All the vegetarian and frugal meals that I was having at the Kumbh had made my palate bland and as I came back to Allahabad to stay in my hotel room, I felt the need to have some non-veg. Yes, some chicken, some mutton. However, Allahabad is not the best place for this as this is the Hindu saffron belt and most people, especially the locals, eat vegetarian food and traditional sweet meals. Non-veg is less served. People eat more milk products like shrikhand, curd and lassi. They prefer to have a vegan diet, as Allahabad is a holy city. People want to maintain its piousness.
I walked about the streets asking people where I can get good non-veg. Most people pointed me to one joint and that was EAT ON, a chicken biryani joint at MG Marg, Civil Lines. This place was buzzing with customers especially college students who were enjoying half or full plates of chicken biryani all served with a full piece of chicken, brown rice, onions rings and green chutney. There is a place on the side where people can stand and eat while keeping their plates on steel tables.
I got friendly with Nafees, the owner of the joint, and decided to interview him. This could be my eating joint for the next three days, I thought. A half plate cost Rs. 55 and a full plate is Rs. 110 – very economical. I managed to get my plate for free and started promoting the Eat On biryani joint. I gifted Mr. Nafees my Tikku’s Travelthon t-shirt and said that I would do a video and blog promotion of his eatery all over the world. It took some selling but the man seemed convinced.
I also took an interview of the bouncer – a huge local man with a triangular beard. He was entrusted with the charge of security just in case any fights burst out while his customers are eating.
Eat On has more than a dozen people working round the clock pouring biriyani into plates. Most of the rice and mutton is cooked in large stainless steel handis. The accountant on the counter cuts the receipts and within a minute, biryani is served to you.
I preferred to have a can of coke from the local shop next to Eat On with my biryani. Most of the times, a half plate was enough for me. At times, I would also munch on a Baskin-Robbins ice cream just to get the chilly taste out of my palate.
For the last couple of days, I have been munching biryani on the house at Eat On and it has, no doubt, become my favourite place for lunch and dinner at Allahabad. It was another barter deal by me. I managed to get free meals in exchange for free publicity for Eat On. Along with that, his chef will wear my t-shirt and promote my Travelthon. It is a win-win deal for both. This is another way a blogger can add value by tying up with local joints and getting free dinners in exchange for publicity on the blog.