Culinary delicacies of India
Memorising directions of Baba Kharak Singh Marg, one reaches the good old Coffee Home only to realise that the area in front of it is abuzz with not just coffee and savouries but has almost every possible street food that is available in Delhi. The occasion for which the set up is prepared is the annual event of ‘Dilli ke Pakwan’ by Delhi Tourism.
The entrance will not give anybody an idea of the expanse of this foodies’ paradise. There is every street food you can imagine ranging from Delhi’s classic chhole bhature, aloo tikki, chaat and golgappe to regional delicacies like Bihar’s litti-chokha and Mumbai’s pav bhaji. Then there are mouth-watering non-vegetarian items from Old Delhi, sweets, paan as well as a variety of digestive churan.††
The National Association of Street Vendors (NASV) greets visitors right at the entrance with the famous chaap and vegetarian kebabs. Made of soya, paneer and chana, the chhap and kebabs are fried in assorted spices and served in tasty dahi. Ram Sewak, Secretary, NASV says, “Our veg kebabs are so tasty that you’ll convert from being a non-vegetarian.”†
Next, Subhash Caterers are dishing out Delhi’s famous paneer chilas and ram laddoos. Both make for colourful items with the yellow chila and laddoo, paneer, tomatoes, coriander and the savoury pudina chutney. The stall adjacent, is Harish Caterers who are serving an array of paranthas - from aloo, pyaaz, gobhi, mooli, palak and paneer to egg and keema.
Those who prefer sitting down to dine are coming to Titu da Dhaba where chur chur naan is being served with shahi paneer and dal makhani besides makke di roti-sarson da saag, rajma-rice, chholey-rice, kadhi-rice etc. What makes it more special is the presence of charpayis and moodas that add to the dhaba feel.
Those looking for regional flavours need not be disappointed as almost all states are finding representation here. The Rajasthani thali by Paamana restaurant is a must visit to savour pyaaz and mawa kachori, dal baati churma and Rajasthani thali. The latter comprises gatte ki sabzi, besan ki roti and raita.
On the other hand, Mohan Foods is selling everything South Indian from idli, dosa, vada and uttapam to milky payasam. They say, “Delhi may be predominantly North Indian, but trust us, we are selling much more than our neighbourhood chhole bhature wala.”†
Among the non vegetarian stalls, Lahori Food stall and Changezi Chicken are the most sought after. The Lahori food stall claims to be importing its spices from Lahore, lending its chicken a special flavour, while Changezi Chicken prides in its fish and mutton kebabs.
The sheer maal (roti prepared with milk and maida) and lachcha parantha at Khan Chicken Point taste well while a special mention must be reserved for their chicken biryani which seemed to have been simmered in meat gravy for hours together.
Sweets made for another food outing with Delhi special kadhai doodh, gulab jamun, jalebi, moong dal halwa and gajar ka halwa – all available here. The gulab jamun at Gopal’s 56 are most noteworthy for their size, milky taste and aroma of badi elaichi, while traditional hut kulfi is a must try for its rose, blackcurrant, anaar, paan, kiwi and sugarless kulfi.
Not to forget, Western street food items in all their avatars are also stocked here. Ranging from noodles, grilled sandwiches and burgers to French fries, there is something for everyone.
The twist in the tale, though, is brought by a stall making mung dal ka pizza – a pancake of moong dal batter, arguably healthier and tastier than any pizza you would have ever had.
In case your stomach still has room for more, definitely try the bhel puri, sev puri, jhaal moori or simply chana jor garam. Round it off with assorted churans or a traditional paan. Bliss!