There is good food, legendary food and then there’s food in Old Delhi that reaches an altogether different level. And I am not just talking of non-vegetarian food. The narrow, labyrinth bylanes here are home to iconic vegetarian joints that go back more than a century. Vegetarians can follow this trail and thank us later.
Ask anyone in Old Delhi where to get the best bedmi puri and they will send you to Shyam Sweets that has been selling this since 1910. Made of wheat flour with a thin stuffing of spicy urad dal, bedmi puri is a bit thicker and darker in colour than the regular puri. Dunk it in spicy, hot aloo curry and it’s a ticket to heaven on a cold winter morning. You can also have it with sitaphal sabzi, methi chutney and kachalu (arbi or colocasia root). Another specialty here is the nagori halwa. Made of rava, it looks like a gol gappa, but it is bigger in size and is crumbly – so you poke a hole in it like you would in pani puri and then stuff it with sooji halwa. We vouch for the taste.
Tip: Bedmi puri is available till 1:00 PM, but we suggest that you go here for breakfast.
Address: 112, Barshahbulla Chowk, Chawri Bazaar
Lotan Chole Wala
Ask anyone for directions to Lotan and just stop when you see a big queue. You might squirm when you see he sells his delicious chole from a big copper vessel right on the pavement. But take a bite and you will forget it all. He scoops out chole, adds potatoes masala, a dash of amchoor chutney, which does the trick, giving it a delicious tang. And how can we forget that dollop of butter? Accompanying the chole are two kulchas. Available from 7.30 to 10.30, breakfast is the only option here.
Tip: The chole are very spicy and not meant for the faint-hearted
Address: 2363, Chatta Shahji , Chawri Bazaar
Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala
The super crisp yet delightfully flakey urad dal kachoris here are a favourite in Old Delhi. Served piping hot with kachalu chutney (the USP) and spicy aloo curry, they are prepared in front of you. The kachoris are so good that it is the only item on the menu, and make for an ideal breakfast option.
Address: 1104, Gali Bhojpura Road, Maliwara, Chandni Chow
Hardcore foodies will invariably find their way to this most famous lane in Chandni Chowk. Let’s get to the basics first – the variety is huge and the paranthas are dunked in ghee and deep fried. Forget the regular aloo and gobi ones and let your taste buds feast on unusual ones like nimbu, badaam, rabri, khurchan, barfi and mirchi. They serve it with aloo and sitaphal subzi, and chutney. Pt. Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan Paranthe Wale is the oldest one. Have this for lunch and you’ll go home a happy person.
Address: A 5-minute walk from Chandni Chowk metro station. Ask anyone for directions.
Old Famous Jalebi Wala
If you’re fond of jalebis and haven’t visited this yet, it’s an omission you must correct soon. The jalebi is super thick and soft instead of being thin and crisp. The tricks which make these jalebis stand out- they fry them in pure desi ghee and use “khandsari” sugar which is unrefined and gives it that distinct, authentic taste. And they use coal fire instead of gas. Served with rabri, it’s delicious to have as dessert after paranthas.
Address: 1795, Dariba Kalan Road, Dariba Corner, opposite Central Baptist Church, Chandni Chowk
Jain Coffee Shop
If you try identifying the most unique sandwich you have ever eaten in your life, you may come up with a smattering of names, but I doubt if any of them would involve a fruit. Yes, that’s right. Pieces of seasonal fruit, be it mango, strawberry, pomegranate, pineapple or apple tucked between two slices, make up a delicious, surprisingly harmonised sandwich. Choose one with a combination of all fruits, or individual fruit sandwiches.
Address: Shop No-4013, Raghu Ganj, Chawri Bazar
Hira Lal Chaat Corner
While they sell all kinds of chaat, what people make a beeline for is Kulliya Chaat which is quite healthy. It’s a fruit chaat with a difference. Pieces of fruit are individually scooped out, sprinkled with chaat masala, lemon juice and topped with chickpeas and pomegranate seeds. So when you bite into it, the sweetness of the fruit is perfectly balanced with the tanginess of lemon.
Address: 3636, Gali Lohe Wali, Chawri Bazar
Natraj Dahi Bhalle Wala
The super crisp aloo tikki and the lip-smacking dahi bhalla are the only two dishes this place has been selling for the last five decades. They do a brilliant job at this and have been attracting Delhiites from the day they opened. There’s no specific time of the day to eat this – when hunger pangs strike make your way to this place.
Address: 1396, Main Road Near Central Bank, opposite Paranthe Wali Gali
Daulat ki chaat
In winter, wooden carts line the streets of Chandni Chowk selling this legendary dish. Daulat ki chaat is made of milk, khoya and malai and is so light that it just melts in the mouth. Making it is painstaking because you have to keep churning milk and cream for upto five hours. The flavourful layer that forms on top is the chaat. Have it for breakfast, lunch or in between and you’ll still have space for more food.