Delhizen is the typical Punjabi kurhi from the city of Chandigarh. Fearless, passionate, she speaks her mind and writes from her heart. A busy career woman who has now shifted her loyalties to Delhi, she lives to eat and in this post lets her taste buds do the talking.....
There are few things Purba and I have in common; our names start with the letter ‘P’, we are Virgos, we can ‘talk’ and most of you who know her would know what I mean. We also share our love for writing, (though I am not half as good as her) Delhi and of course FOOD!
Since no celebration is complete without good food and to keep up with the spicy content of A-Musing, my post is dedicated to ‘Street Food of Dillli’. I read this ode, a 55er actually written by someone who is a foodie by heart & soul and thought it’s the right recipe to start my post which being with food and ends with it too.
“People eat out for various reasons: hunger pangs or for a change,
Some want to try what’s new while for a few it’s about taste,
There are also God’s chosen ones ‘who eat because it makes them happy’,
Food to live or food for mind; I chose the latter which adds zing to my life!”
First draft of this post was trashed, so was the second and third. I realized its time to bunk the gym and instead walk down to Sriram Sweets, Malviya Nagar (btw they have the best Gol Gappas or GGs in South Delhi) for some inspiration.
Six gol guppas, 2 deep fried aloo tikkis and a plate of shakarkandi ki chat later I was ready to write about the second love of my life, food!
Just like a wine connoisseur can differentiate between a Sula and a Vintage. A gg Gulper can tell a good guppa from a regular one… Take the whole filled-up to the brim guppa to your mouth, bite into it, did you hear the pucchak sound? A burst of flavors, sweet followed by tangy and then the teekha-pan tingles the throat and you have just sampled a perfect gg, go on don’t stop at one!
There was time way back in 1960s and 70s when street food vendors would come wandering to residential colonies offering all sort of grub from peeled and bite size sugarcane, to jalebis, bhel, chaat. Times have changed and vendors don't come knocking at your doors now but every locality at least has one chaat wala of its own. But momos, noodles with lots of tomato ketchup is not my idea of Delhi special grub.
What is Delhi's street food then? It’s a treasure to be discovered, for this you have to be a slave to your taste buds, leave your concerns for ' hygiene' behind and step out! I say, Delhizens have the toughest immunity and it takes a lot to knock them out. It grows from strength to strength from their culinary adventures of the thela types - no one knows or gives two hoots to how it’s prepared.
Delhi's street food has a multi cultural influence some of my personal top favorites are:
- Gol guppas, pani-puri, pani batasha, puchhka
- Dahi Bhalla
- Pappri chaat
- kullas (scooped potatoes or tomatoes with a tangy stuffing)
- Moong dal ki pakodi
- Kebabs with roomali
- Kathi- double chicken/mutton with egg,
- Paranthas with a variety of stuffing from pappad to peas
- Khurchan (scrapping of the sides of the kadai in which rabri is made)
- Kulfi faluda
- naan kathai ( biscuits)
- kachori with aloo ki subzi you can also try this combo with bedmi puri
- Choley bhature or with kulcha
Mouth-watering is it? Already thinking, yes! I am going to eat all this and add more to the list? Well here is what I suggest….
Walk through Chandni Chowk from Ghanta Ghar to the tightly squeezed lanes, stop where you see a crowd that would of course mean the eatery is popular and will have fresh food. Just before you enter the Paranthe- wali gali there is a small shack which dishes out soft-crunchy moong pakodi served with pudina chutney. Next bite? Obviously khasta paranthas. Try unusual combinations like dry fruits stuffing, rabri and banana, served with tamarind chutney, potato curry, and sitaphal ki subzi. Wash it down with a glass of refreshing nimbu masala or bunta as it’s more popularly known.
|Courtesy- Google Images|
Then comes Jama Masjid, a food lovers delight and there is so much more than just one world famous Karim’s. Take a stroll and you will discover enough options on either side to tempt you. The bakeries there may look like dingy holes but bake the freshest rusks (round in shape). Close to Motia Mahal there is an exclusive shop for Afghani Rotis same in size as that of a plate made with a mix of wheat flour, maida and milk. And that’s not all there is an interesting story behind them too. Everyone works hard to earn their daily bread and should get the exact or more for what they pay so the dough for each roti is weighed. You can even ask them to make sheermal (sweetened roti) and these can be kept for a few days, warm them before you want to eat and they will soft again.
Oh! How can I not mention the lunch of almost everyone in Daryaganj and around- choley kulchey, sweet lassi and karari kachori with aloo- tamatar ki tarkari. Nah, they are not like what you get at the fancy sweet shops. DG has a few who make the best of this lot and mind you after 3 pm you won’t even get a small helping.
I do step out of the ‘old-city charm’ only when the taste buds crave for a fluffy dosa, soft idlis and crispy vadas. 5 minutes from Jantar Mantar are these row of shops, each one offering a specialty from rajma-chawal to kadi-chawal. Don’t get tempted, you get better preparation of these at home. Instead stop by at the South Indian self-service dhaba dishing out 50 dosas in 15 minutes served with piping hot sambar. The choice of dosas is the same as you would get at Sarvana Bhavan or Sagar Ratna but at less than half the price. Just don’t look at the way they wash the dishes.
I can go on and on about what and whereabouts of street food and my mind is already set to ditch the dinner at home tonight and head to the lanes laden with happiness!
Statutory warning: Discovering best places to eat out can’t be done with a guidebook in hand. After many trials you will find a place which offers a special something to come-by again.