The streets of the capital, especially the labyrinthine lanes of the Old City, unquestionably churn out some of the country’s best street grub. From unctuous kachoris and samosas to spice laced kebabs dripping meaty juices, stuffed parathas fried in desi ghee, to a sublime dessert that feels like a dream, Delhi streets will keep you spoilt for choice. This is one place where you can ditch the fancy restaurants and have a ball eating out on the streets.
Here are a few must-try streets bites no trip to Delhi is complete without.
Another ubiquitous Delhi Street food, these mashed potato patties with a thin, crisp golden crust, sometimes stuffed with spiced lentils or peas, and fried on a griddle typically comes topped with sweet and tangy tamarind chutney and a spicy mint and coriander chutney, sweetened curd, pomegranate and finely chopped onions.
A delightful variation of the dish is one topped with a curried chickpeas, chutneys and a sprinkle of fresh coriander and green chilies. There are numerous stalls selling aloo tikki in Delhi, for some of the best ones try one of the outlets of Bittu Tikki Wala, or Prabhu Chaat Bhandaar in Khan Market.
The khasta (crusty) kachoris stuffed with spiced lentil filling and served with a slightly runny, generously spiced curried potatoes, often deliciously tangy, with distinct flavour from asafoetida, and chutney, is a perennial favourite in this city, best savoured on cold winter mornings, but no less tasty any other time of the year. Your best bet is to head to the hoary quarters of old Delhi, where tucked in its narrow labyrinthine lanes are some of the city’s best kachori joints.
A unanimous favourite is the JB Kachori Wala in the Chandni Chowk Area, but go only if you can handle heat. Their potato curry is notoriously spicy, plus they throw in some chopped, spice laced green chilies for good measure. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to stop at one, runny nose and teary eyes notwithstanding.
MULTANI MOTH KACHORI
Crisp, crusty kachoris stuffed with spiced moth beans, and served with a generous splash of creamy daal, a sprinkle of steamed rice, some pickled onions, chilies and a splash of tamarind water or chutney – the moth kachori can pep up even the dullest day. There’re quite a few places that serve moth kachori. One of the best picks is perhaps the Multan Moth Bhandar in Paharganj. Or try the ones at Nagpal di Hatti in Geeta Colony.
Parathas, in fact, stuffed parathas, make an obligatory appearance in every conversation concerning eating out in Delhi. Of course, there is Chandni Chowk’s illustrious Parathe wali galli (this place singlehandedly represents the city’s love for parathas), where you can feast on parathas fried in desi ghee, stuffed with anything from okra and tomato to rabri and besan methi, typically served with curried potatoes and an assortment of chutneys.
Or head to Moolchand Flyover to savour the Moolchand Parathewalah’s anda (egg) paratha (they crack an egg inside the paratha, flip it and let is sizzle for a while). For parathas of another kind, (think stuffed parathas made in the tandoor) head to Kake di Hatti also in the Chandni Chowk area. They have naans stuffed with everything from aloo pyaaz, gobi and methi to matar paneer, khoya and cheese.
Pillowy bhaturas served with spicy chole laced with deliciously gravy, some picked onions, green chilies and a splash of chutney is the quintessential Delhi street bite no trip to the city is complete without. When out in the city, you could spot numerous roadside stalls and al fresco shacks doling out piping hot bhaturas straight out of a cauldron of sizzling oil, and there’s almost always a crowd of patrons flocking to these.
However, if there’s one place that you must drop by for their stellar chole bhature – and most Delhiites would agree – it’s Sita Ram Diwan Chand in the Paharganj area. Their bhaturas comes stuffed with crumbled cottage cheese, the spicy chole pack a delicious tangy kick, but it’s their signature sweet and sour chutney (served complimentary) that accentuates the drool quotient. You should also try Chache di Hatti in Kamla Nagar, arguably one of the other best chole bhature destinations in town.
The quintessential Punjabi meal – steamed rice, a pristine white, the grains fluffy, sometimes tempered with cumin, served with a generous helping of curried kidney beans in spicy, velvety gravy – it is a must try when you’re in Delhi. Of course, most restaurants serving Indian food has it on their menu, but it’s quite another thing savouring a plate of rajma chawal on the streets. One of the most famous stops for rajma chawal is the modest Parashar Food Stall in Connaught Place. The rajma chawal is served with cold boondi raita, pickles and papad, and make for an inexpensive but delicious meal.
It goes without saying that this city is a chaat lover’s paradise. From crumbled samosas smothered with sweetened yoghurt and an assortment of sweet and spicy chutneys to mammoth raj kachoris packed with sliced potatoes, sprouts, topped with yoghurt, chutneys and sev to the immensely popular Dahi Bhalla, fried lentil dumplings, soaked and topped again with a similar mix of yoghurt and chutneys, and papri chaat, Delhi streets turn out some of the best chaats you’ll sample. Natraj Dahi Bhalla in Chandni Chowk is a must try if you’re a Dahi Bhalla fan, they turn out superlative aloo tikkis too.
AFGHAN STREET BITES
Lajpat Nagar has a sizeable population of Afghan Immigrants and the area has quite a few restaurants serving Afghani food. But, try out the street grub doled out from Afghani stalls here. There’s everything from typical Afghani breads and sweetmeats to Afghani burgers which are basically wraps stuffed with sliced boiled eggs, cucumber and tomatoes, and a truckload of French fries.
Yes, juicy seekh kebabs, spicy Shami kebabs and melt-in-the-mouth kakoris and galouti kebabs. Of course, there is Karim’s and their burra kebabs are legendary but there are quite a few places around Delhi that chrun out superlative kebabs. In the Jama Masjid area, Al Jawahar is a must visit for their Shami kebabs while Qureshi Kebab Corner perhaps turns out the best seekh kebab in town. Those in the know frequent Babu Bhai Kababwale, in Chawri Bazaar, for their creamy sutli kababs.
DAULAT KI CHAAT
A seasonal treat usually available between October and March, it’s a lighter-than-feather frothy treat painstakingly made by churning milk and cream until it evolves into a frothy, dreamy dessert enriched with khoya, saffron, dried fruits and more. A chief ingredient in the recipe is winter morning dew.
Walk around the labyrinthine lanes on Old Delhi on winter mornings and you could spot quite a few vendors turning out the treasured Daulat ki chaat. It is so good that Indian Accent (arguably the best restaurant in the country) has it on their menu, albeit theirs has a more glamorous avatar.