How often does one get a chance to take a renowned chef from Ireland on a food tour to Old Delhi?
Arun Kapil is a food entrepreneur, spice expert and an eminent person in Ireland. A name to be reckoned with, the radio shows host him plenty and the newspapers feature him every other day in Ireland. An Anglo Indian Chef, he’s the founder of Cork-based spice company, Green Saffron and carries the tag of the “Spice King of Cork.” His visit to India in January was beside other things, a tour to taste the exemplary street food that Delhi is famous for.
Jan 23 – A day wrong in all aspects
Arun was depending on me to give him a food tour of a lifetime. He would have only a day in Delhi on Jan 23rd before he flew back and then there were meetings to finish by lunchtime. “Would that be O.K.?” he had asked. “Perfect.” I had agreed and we both had marked the date on our calendar. What possibly could go wrong? I spoke too soon. Due to the sealing drive, there was a traders strike and Jan 23rd was declared as Delhi Bandh. Moreover, as the day progressed, the sky was overcast with grey clouds and there had been a heavy downpour. “To go or not to go?” I was worried. “No, I think we go!” replied the Chef. Throwing a damn to the weather, off we guys went. His lovely wife Olive, Arun, Karan and I.
The Food Trail Begins…
Stop 1: Natraj Dahi Bhalla Corner
After getting out of the Chandni Chowk Metro station, this little shop at the end of the alley greets its customers with its spongy dahi bhallas –bhallas soaked in creamy whipped yoghurt. A swirl of saunth chutney and a dredge of masalas and we tasted a mouthful of heaven. With a filling of mashed moong dal. the aloo tikkis must not be missed either. They’re fried in hot, bubbling oil till they’re brown and crispy. The interplay of the green chutney with the saunth that they’re doused with, results in flavour explosions that convince that yin and yang exist in food too.
Address: 1396, Main Road, Near Central Bank, Opp. Paranthe Wali Gali, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi
Stop 2: Paranthe Wali Gali
Right across Natraj Dahi Bhalla Corner is a narrow lane that is the gateway to gastronomic heaven. Paranthe Wali Gali hosts a legendary series of restaurants serving more than 30 variety of deep-fried paranthas. We plonked ourselves at Babu Ram Paranthe wale and stuck to the classics – Mooli parantha, paneer parantha and khoya parantha. The taste of Khoya (reduced milk) in a parantha seems unimaginable but these gorgeous, pillowy treat stuffed with gooey sweet khoya are one of the best things to eat.
Address: 1984 -1985 , Gali Parnthewali, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006
Stop 3: Daulat ki Chaat
Whisked for hours in the cold nights till it turns foamy, Daulat ki chaat is like an enormous cloud that has been captured in a big thali and fluffed up with a top, frothy, saffron layer. Gently scooped into bowls and sprinkled with nuts, bhoora (unrefined sugar) and khoya the delicate, subtle flavours settle on the taste buds before disappearing too soon. The only expression you have left is one of tasting bliss.
Address: On the streets in winters
Stop 4: Naan Khatai
The aromas of freshly baked, crispy biscuits waft through the streets of Old Delhi and vendors roam the streets with their thelas. Rs.40 for 100 grams is a reasonable price for these cookies.
Stop 5: Jung Bahadur Kachoriwala
A big poster tells you clearly that he has been reviewed and recommended by the best. No kidding! His kachoris and Aloo ki sabzi are to die for. We loved the crushed kachori to the whole Kachori. Sheer bliss!
Address: 1104, Gali Bhojpura Road, Maliwara, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006
Best known for his Khurchan, this delicacy is leavened; layer upon layer with the richness of dried milk scrapings and sugar. He sells other sweets like malai laddoo, rabri, kalakand, gajar ka halwa and gulab jamun.
Address: 2225, Kinari Bazar Rd, Dharam Pura, Old Delhi, New Delhi, Delhi 110006
Stop 7: Old Famous Jalebiwala
Piping hot, thick syrupy coils of jalebi make this iconic shop one to be visited each time you visit Chandni Chowk. We tried their samosa too. The triangular savoury with spicy potato filling is a must try too. Simply mind blowing!
Address: 1795, Dariba Kalan Road, Dariba Corner, Opposite to Central Baptist Church, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006
The Food Trail Continues….
We completed this entire circle of Chandni Chowk and were not quite done as yet. A quick hop into the electric autos took us to Jama Masjid to visit a few legendary places there.
Stop 8: Cool Point, Matia Mahal
These tweets explain this place in a nutshell.
Address: 972, Bazaar Matia Mahal, Opposite Jama Masjid Gate 1, Jama Masjid,
Stop 9: Sultanji’s Mawa Jalebis
This little shop, bang opposite Cool Point is gathering all the attention recently. While the world associates Jalebis with the colour Orange, the Jalebis made in Sultanji’s are black in colour and made of mawa, unlike the other jalebis that are made of maida. His gulab jamuns are just as good and we packed a few for home. I was super impressed with the manner they’re made and their taste that I have already written a post on it. To read more press here.
Stop 10: Karim’s
Of course! How is it possible not to go to Karim’s if you’re in Jama Masjid area. This legendary place is flocked by people who come to relish slow cooked Nihari, Korma and juicy, moist Kebabs. Just as much as I like their Khamiri Roti. I am a die-hard fan of the Sheermal and as always packed a few for later. They make ideal companions to tea time and last a couple of days.
Address: 16, Gali Kababiyan, Matia Mahal, New Delhi, Delhi 110006
Follow the #dillikidibbi food trail and you could do it too!
In three hours, we had eaten we had eaten 18 things in all. Phew! And the rain gods had spared us too. We were glad that we had done the trip despite our apprehensions. The ‘Delhi Bandh’ had in fact been a boon for us. We were able to do so much in such a short time because the streets were barren. This is a good trail and can be easily done by anyone with a paucity of time. With umpteen pictures of our fabulous day and a “Thank you’ message from Arun, I knew I had given the Chef truckload of food memories to carry back home.