One of the key characteristics of any city today is its food. People can easily relate the towns to the dishes they are famous for and vice versa.
When the word Pav Bhaji is heard one cannot help thinking about the famous Juhu Beach area of Mumbai. Similarly, the thought of Rosogullas leads to the formation of many images and Victoria Memorial and Calcutta taxi being some of them. Delhi too has a plethora of much-loved dishes to boast of. A lot of these dishes are found in the area of Old Delhi which is rightfully known as Delhi ka Dil.
The area of Chandni Chowk, Jama Masjid, Dariba all contribute to the Old City. Set near the Red Fort, this was the original walled city that was the seat of power of the Mughals. This explains the heavy Mughlai impact on the food of this area. However, there is a huge list of vegetarian delicacies as well that appeal to the foodie in every visitor to the area. The area has been immortalised in many movies and stories over the ages. However, nothing represents the history and culture of Delhi 6 like the street food found along the by-lanes in the old city.
Jalebi & Samosa
Arguably the best Jalebis and Samosas can be found at this shop right on the main Chandni Chowk Road. Aptly named as Old Famous Jalebiwala, its address is 1795, Dariba Kalan. When I say aptly named, I refer to the fact that the set up is about 150 years old and famous, well take a guess. The reason being simple. Quality. You can literally smell the shop; the pungent aroma of Jalebi chashni, cooked over 12 hours; intoxicates you. Now coming to the sweet in question, the Jalebis are heavy and thick. Laden with an overdose of Desi Ghee and sweetness, it is a one of a kind experience to eat these hot and amazing Jalebis.
To balance the sweetness the establishment also sells Matar Samosas, fried in desi ghee. Totally unique and mouth watering these fried delicacies paired with heavy jalebis can prove to be an amazing breakfast.
Daulat ki Chaat
This mildly sweet dish is a winter-only delicacy and is one of those dishes that is a must-have if you are out to explore the Purani Dilli area. A blend of strong Indian flavours and with milk as its base ingredient, the foamy white appearance of this dish is too unique to be forgotten. Topped with dry fruits, mawa, and saffron, it offers a distinct crunchy sweet taste that is just heavenly in the cold winter days. The secret behind this amazing taste of this dish is its intense preparation. It starts with overnight cooling of milk and cream which is followed by hand whipping of the upper layer for the distinctive frothy look. This is then blended and garnished to become the iconic sweet chat. It can be had at the Kinari Bazaar area just adjoining the Dariba.
Ever heard of the Paranthey Wali Gali? If not, just ask any Delhiite and they will tell you that is the crown jewel of Delhi’s street food. It is an about 30 meter stretch of a lane, that is called so because of the presence of dhabas that serve only Paranthas. At first, I too felt that only paranthas sound a bit too less for an eatery’s menu. I stood corrected as I looked at the menu of the heavily crowded Pt. Baburam Devidayal Paranthewala. The wide array of flatbreads right from the conventional potato and paneer to the likes of banana and mawa that are worth a shot. A rather interesting thing about all these outlets is that they refrain from the use of onion and garlic and are pure vegetarian. This is because they are run by Brahmin families right from the 1870s. Costing at about Rs.80 a plate, these ghee fried paranthas are served with pickle and chutney. The outer layer melts in the mouth and the inner flavors are rich and vibrant. The dhabas also serve Lassi which is an amazing sweet companion to the spice-laden paranthas
A rather low key but an immensely interesting sweet -Khurchan, can also be tasted at the Paranthey Wali Gali. The word literally means “scraped leftovers” in Hindi. This is exactly how the dish is prepared. Hazari Lal Jain KhurchanWale is the home of this sweet. The dish is prepared by scraping off the cream of boiled milk and mixing it with powdered sugar. However, it is easier said than done because the required thickness and taste need any scrapings. The amount of effort needed can be seen from the fact that about 3.5 kg of buffalo milk is needed to produce just 0.5 kg of Khurchan. The end result is this layered delicacy wit chewy and soft. The taste of sugar and milk in perfect proportions makes it simple yet truly amazing. The shop’s 90-year history has seen many customers including the then Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Just near the end of the Paranthey wali Gali is the JB Kachori Wala. As the name suggests, he is famous for his Kachori and the one that got him the fame is the Dal Kachori. Served with aloo sabzi, this is an extremely spicy affair that is on the bucket list of all those who explore the area. It serves as a great snack or even breakfast if you have a couple of these heavy kachoris and amazing aloo sabzi.
KanwarJi Dal Biji Wale
Established in the late 18th century, this outlet is famous for a range of sweets and namkeens. The most famous being the dal Biji, whoch has its roots in Agra, another Mughal stronghold of yore. The which is made from gram flour, cashew and melon seeds. The taste of this Dal Biji is unapparelled and thus is hit among customers. Aloo laccha is another common household name. This makes Kanwarji a one stop snacking destination before you continue touring the nearby markets of Chandni chowk.
Now, this is a name you will hear only in Chandni Chowk. It is basically a spice induced lemonade that can be found at every nook and corner. My first experience with this refresher was after a long day of exploring. I saw a stall and asked him for a Banta, the name used everywhere else in Delhi. He corrected me saying that it was a Nimbu Lemon. Nevertheless, I gave it a try. It was super refreshing, the spice punch and soda hit harder than any other lemonades. In all, it’s a nice variation that is best tried during the sweltering summers.
That’s it for now…..Many more dishes yet to be covered. Keep watching this space for more.
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