I being a vegetarian would never be able to do justice to Delhi’s food on this blog. So I invited Sid Khullar, to do a guest post on Delhi’s food walk. Sid is the primary contributor to and editor of Chef at Large. A self-confessed food addict who likes cooking, writing and photography. And travel, if it gets him closer to a good book and interesting food. He’s spent 17 years in varying functions of technology including research & development, training, sales, marketing and mentoring technology startups. He now applies himself to learning more about food. And building food and beverage brands online for Chef at Large clients.
Delhi Food Walk by Sid Khullar
Food walk: /fud:walk/ An out of home excursion comprising one or more people. The focus of which is the copious consumption of interesting food and drink.
I was introduced quite recently to the concept of a food walk. Perhaps just a few years ago, when my interest in food led to numerous street side excursions the prime purpose of which were to hunt down good fare. Joining the bustling food scene in Delhi, I found quite a number of people were already engaged in an activity called ‘Foodwalks’. Quite similar to our own fond ventures. Obviously, most of us foodies weren’t quite satisfied with the fare we had easy access to. And we weren’t afraid to venture out of our comfort zones in search of a better platter. It had to happen; the hunt for better comfort food was inevitable.
Street Food Quality
How many times have we found ourselves unable to eat a roadside aloo-tikki or Gol Gappa? Finding them utterly unworthy of their names? Many times, I’ll guess. A few days ago, we found a street vendor selling the ubiquitous aloo-chat and two bites later, we continued on our way, leaving our snack unfinished. It just was so badly made, finishing it was out of the question. Considering the calories one such meal contains, every bite must satisfy. Food walks, I guess were started for similar reasons. One person compulsively finds joints and shares them with others during walks expressly meant for that purpose.
Old Delhi Food Walk
Our most frequented Food walk destination is Old Delhi. As is probably the case with most others. We usually visit the predominantly non-vegetarian Jama Masjid though the largely vegetarian Chawri Bazaar and Chandni Chowk areas are also quite popular. A typical day will see us taking the Metro and meeting opposite Jama Masjid Gate #1. We start with Dilshad’s boti and seekh kebabs, both of which are spicy, juicy and quite delicious. Accompanied by roomali roti, green chutney, lemon and onions. We try not to overdo it here and barely succeed.
What to try
Popping into Yaseen’s next, located on the right barely a few seconds after entering Matia Mahal opposite Jama Masjid Gate #1, sees us feast on portions of Nihari. Extremely tender meat bathed in a thick, meaty and spicy broth. Our next stop is Aslam’s Butter chicken, a few minutes further, to the left. Aslam’s speciality is grilled fish and chicken, tossed in spices and large quantities of butter and cream served with Roomali roti’s. A health freak’s nightmare, chicken doesn’t get tastier than this. A ten-minute walk, with numerous twists and turns through tiny gali’s brings us to Biryani Point in Haveli Azam Khan. A tiny, literally hole in the wall that sells one thousand kilos of Biryani a day.
There’s no seating, so standing, we sample one of the best biryanis in town keeping just a little space for dessert. For which we make our way back towards where we started and stop at Cool Point on the left. Which offers some pretty good Shahi Tukra and flavoured milk. Note, all of these places offer Buffalo meat only.
While most food walks I know tend to centre on street food, at Chef at Large, we do tend to take things a bit further. For example, home-based period food cooking is a tedious labour of love. Where we pick a region and a period, then cook using the technology, techniques, recipes and food stuffs available to people in that region and period. Though there’s no walking involved, period cooking is very high on labour and research and ends up amazingly satisfying and informative for hard core foodies. We usually pick Indian or British territories for period cooking food walks.
Then there’s the lure of foreign food. Delhi is rapidly becoming a city where tastes of most kinds can be indulged in without travelling very far or forking out a great deal of money. These are the easiest kind, where there’s little or no physical effort involved, apart from the tedium of perusing and ordering from a menu. Far eastern food is a hot favourite these days, and some of our favourite destinations are Fu in Greater Kailash for Chinese and Chinese-influenced food, including fare from Malaysia and Indonesia. Tamura Hauz Khas for Japanese, and Gung in Green Park and Gurgaon for some excellent Korean food in Korean surroundings.
Apart from the obvious culinary impact, food walks are a great way to meet likeminded people. I know of quite a few good friendships that have developed within groups of people who didn’t know one another from Adam, the common thread being a love of good food. Food walks have greatly enriched my knowledge of Delhi as a city. Exposed me to different types of food and brought me into touch with some very nice people. So much so, that I eagerly look forward to every food walk.
Thanks Sid for this lovely introduction to Delhi’s Food.
Recommend you to read following travel blog on Places to visit in Delhi.