An ever-growing city, with long days and short nights, busy streets and maddening crowd, modern lifestyle and ancient mannerisms. A cultural hub, a mix of some of India’s typical features, yes, we are talking about Delhi. While the capital of India is known for many things; some ugly, some beautiful and the rest of India has a love hate relationship with it; there is one thing that most of us love about the Capital, its FOOD!
We as a nation, love food. From multi-cuisine restaurants to cozy cafes, we love to centralize our good times around it. However, one must admit, that our hearts beat for street food and will always do. So, the wide variety that Delhi’s street food industry has to offer is outright staggering.
In my opinion, strolling and eating in Chandni Chowk, Delhi is one of the most Indian things one can do in India. This narrow and bustling lane of Delhi will introduce you to the quintessential Indian bazaar vibe. The density of establishments and people, collection of retailable items and the constant cries of vendors competing among one-another will, for a moment, overwhelm you.
At this point, your dilemma as to where to stop and how to catalog will be at its peak, but if you are a food lover, you will let your sense of smell guide you. Delhi has a rich history of culture and cuisines from the medieval era and with due course of time, it has only flourished and become more inclusive. Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi is the perfect location to have a flavour of Delhi’s rich past. The number of options when it comes to food in Chandni Chowk are seemingly infinite. You would not want to run out of appetite tasting the common delicacies and leave out the special ones, the chances of finding them in other parts of India are slim.
So let’s get eating…
Going to Chandni Chowk and missing out on the various Paranthes could turn out to be a huge regret. What’s special in a Parantha you say? The age old stalls in Delhi make sure your Parantha experience is as wholesome as their stuffing. They are twice the size of a regular Parantha with various stuffings and blend of spices so fragrant, they will activate all your senses. The stuffing is equitably spread across the Paratha and is served hot with a thick, flavourful pudina chutney and pickled onions. This experience is definitely a riot of flavours and in no point turns out to be underwhelming.
The mere thought of Golgappe or Tikki Chaat is enough for us to start drooling. So if you are in Chandni Chowk, you must be prepared for a drool-fest. The lane is dotted with stalls and shops that offer a variety of Chaats made with an assortment of ingredients. From Tikki Chat to Papdi Chaat to Aloo Masala, Dahi Bhalle, Golgappe etc. the blend of spices and the flavourful chutneys are the key element of these dishes. If you are trying to find a flaw, you will be disappointed, as everything about these chats, from the consistency of gravies to the softness of the Bhalles and Tikkis, to the balance of a the five flavours, are on point.
Looking at a bunch of Samosas, Kachoris or Pooris being swirled in a pool of hot oil has been a treat to the eyes for most of us growing up. It is almost surprising how deeply we are attached to our fried snacks and how disappointed we feel when they don’t live up to our expectations. So Samosas, Kachoris, Kachori Aloo Masala, Poori Aloo, Chole Bhature etc. in Chandni Chowk are a benchmark. The outer crust made up of maida is flaky and crunchy, the stuffing is a perfect balance of spices, condiments, vegetables or other ingredients. The red or green chutneys served with the snacks wonderfully compliment it and enhances your experience. Also, Chandni Chowk’s Chole has a popularity of its own. The authentic flavour and fragrance of crushed whole spices and anardana, the perfectly boiled chole and the creamy yet spicy gravy, is the typical desi chole masala which one can only cherish at Chandni Chowk.
Let’s start by pointing out that Chaat can be a dessert too. Yes, you read that right! Malai Chaat is a dessert that can be only found in Chandni Chowk. It is made of malai or cream and is fluffy enough to melt in your mouth right away. Some specific desserts that one must try are Karachi Halwa, Balushahi, Sooji Ka Halwa, Kesari Bhog, Jalebi, which are not just sweet and creamy goodness but also portray the cultural mix. Pakistani, Afghani and Mughlai desserts adorn this street, therefore, you will literally have India’s past in your platter.
Chandni Chowk is not only a food-lovers paradise, but also a living example of India’s inclusive and diverse cultural history. While we tried to enlist some of the vegetarian delights of this widely popular food lane, we promise to bring you tales of culture, tradition, legends etc. from across the country.
What is your favourite food experience of Delhi? Let us know in the comments section below.