Past few weeks, my home looked as if i am running some papad-achaar business. Thanks to my Mother-in-law who had come for a short visit and left teaching me all the good-old days activities of women. The arrival of summers and women in those days would get ready to make all different kinds of pickles, chutneys, papads, wafers etc etc. Though some of it's process is tedious and lengthy and would invite boredom if making all alone, i would post pictures and recipes of each of them one by one. The pickles are surely worth making, as they were a specialty of the nani's and dadi's of my husband.
During their stay here, we went to visit Chandni Chowk - one of the oldest markets in New Delhi and the largest wholesale market in India. Chandni Chowk, though crowded has it's own charm, not only for the shopoholics but also for foodies like us. Chandni Chowk was a market visited once by merchants from China, Turkey and even Holland. You think of a type of fabric, or a book, or some household or lifestyle item, or a spice or cooking ingredient and you have it all here! During my 2 year stay in Delhi, this was my 4th visit to Chandni Chowk, and i feel there is still so much more to explore.
For food lovers, this place literally awakens your senses. The aroma of the food when you walk around is so inviting, that you can't miss eating some food that has retained their taste all over the years. Going beyond the regular Karim's and Moti Mahal or Al-jawahar, this time we ditched non-vegetarian food and decided to head on a chaat-walk. The first stop was :
Natraj DahiBhalle wale : Imagine the month of may, sweat rolling all over your body, tired legs from shopping, and crowds of people till your eyes can see. Suddenly a plate of some tangy tamarind chutney floating on some rich, creamy, smooth curd arrives in front of you! You take a dip in that curd with your spoon and you find a soft bhalla inside loaded with masala. You take a bite of that Dahi-bhalla and an ocean explodes in your mouth. Suddenly you no more feel the scorching heat or smell the sweat-marks. Priced at INR 50, this dahi-bhalla is a must-try if you visit Chandni-chowk. They serve bhalle since 1940, hence ask any person where the "bhallewala" is, and you will get the right address!
Our next stop was the Jung Bahadur Kachori wala : Located just near the parathe wali galli, this is a roadside stand serving some crispy kachoris with some hot and spicy aloo sabzi. Just thinking about the urad daal kachoris is making my mouth water right now. Served just at INR 20 for 1 kachori with sabzi, you can't afford to miss this place if you love some spicy stuff.
Just a small walk towards the metro station and we found a tiny looking shop of the famous Shri Balaji Chaat Bhandar : We tried the Kalmi bada as the name sounded interesting. Kalmi vadas are basically deep fried gram dal crispies. Here, they were topped with some awesome chaat. The guy serving us (Raju bhai) was one interesting guy who gave us water to wash our hands and insisted that we eat with our hands. He feels that a "chaat" tastes best when you literally lick your fingers clean. True to his opinion, we simply licked our fingers and plate clean. Their papdi chaat is must-try too. But we had Gol-gappe (again on Raju's insistence that the gol-gappe water is made from bisleri and that he serves it the best in town). Again, we will second his opinion that the green water was one of the best we have tasted in a long long time! It had the perfect flavours of sour, sweet and tangy. What more! It was cold - perfect for the season!
On our way to Khari Baoli - the wholesale spice market, we came across Bishan Swaroop chaat bhandaar : who has been running the place since 1920. His aloo chaat is very famous, but we were too full to stuff ourselves with carbohydrates, so we tried the Fruit chaat. Reluctant to tell me what his secret spices were, he mentioned he adds chaat masala and chutney to the fruits. Priced at INR 40, this chaat adds a nice zing to your regular fruits and worth a try if you like a little spice to your fruits. I personally prefer my fruits plain, so i would avoid this the next time!
After stuffing so much of food in our stomachs in a span of 1 hour, we definitely needed some medicine for the stomach!!! What better way than to have a glass (rather kullad) of Lassi. This lassi was fresh, sweet and refreshed us, preparing us for our journey back home in all that hustle bustle. Running the shop since 1981, Pandit Gyan Prasad Madan Mohan 's Lassi priced at INR 45 is a hit amongst the travellers. Their Malai cake is delicious too, so grab a parcel of it back home!
There are many other places we have missed, but were too full to try more! So until next time!!!
Happy travelling :)