Tuesday, May 12, 2015

5 Incredibly Delicious 'Old and Famous' Street Chaat Shops in Chandni Chowk, Delhi.

What is the first impression that comes to your mind when I say ‘Delhi’?


Capital of India? Chaotic? Independence Day parade?
… Pretty good, go on!

Now guess - what’s mine? It’s FOOD GREAT FOOD! If tomorrow, India decided to come out naming its foodie capital – I am sure Delhi would be one city very hard to beat. Delhi is high on food and to raise a toast, all you need to do is jump on its streets on a hungry stomach and let your nose do the talking!


Narrow crowded streets of Chandni Chawk, Old Delhi

The streets of Delhi, are jam packed with tiny hole-in-the-wall shops, pushcarts and eating stands that attract and satiate a swarm of crowds every passing day. What’s amazing is that many of these street shops are so old and their taste so legendary that they are afforded a quintessential heritage status of their own, thanks to a big foodie clientele of their own. During a few of my recent visits to Delhi, I decided to break in a few of these long-standing street chaat shops in the Chandni Chowk area and test the pride that they take in their ‘old and famous’ repute.

So, how did the shops fare? Did they pass the test or did they fail? Read on, you’ll soon find out!


1. OLD FAMOUS JALEBIWALA, SINCE 1903

The name says it all! One of the best places in Delhi to start of your breakfast foodie expedition is this sweet shop – Old Famous Jalebiwala.

Old famous Jalebiwala, Chandni Chawk street food, Delhi

Best, I say, because it’s located just metres ahead of one of my favorite places of reverence in the capital city – The Sheesh Ganj Gurudwara. The shop is small in size but big in reputation that has spanned across generations. Ask the Delhiwalas about their Jalebis which is quite an artifact in itself – most of them swear by it!

A tray full of plump jalebis at Old famous Jalebiwala - Chandni Chawk street food, Delhi

Despite the crowds, the place is pretty clean and the Jalebis cooked keeping cleanliness and hygiene in place.

What to eat?

Jalebis are hot piping round mish mesh melt in the mouth crunchy whirls of golden brown deep fried batter dipped in sweet sugary syrup called chasni.

Hot piping Jalebis being fried at Old famous Jalebiwala - Chandni Chawk street food, Delhi

Jalebis taking a nice dip in pure ghee.

A kg costs you Rs. 300 but if you don’t have anyone else to share your bounty with – go for a single piece only (which will cost about Rs. 40) – fat, juicy and plump, one jalebi is just about enough to get your hunger pangs satiated. It’s really soft too so that elderly people with a sweet tooth do not have to miss out on the irresistible hot delicacy.

A piece of hot and juicy sweet jalebi at Old famous Jalebiwala - Chandni Chawk street food, Delhi

Soft and fat Jalebis happily swimming in the bobbing oil of the cauldron.

They have samosas on the platter too but I gave them a miss simply because I wanted to try things at other places too.

Address: Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi.

How to get there?

Sheeshganj Gurudwara on the Chandni Chowk Road is the landmark you have to keep in mind in order to get to the Old Famous Jalebiwala. Walk east and turn into the Dariba Kalan road. The shop is in the corner of the road. 

Contact number: (011) 23256973.

Timings: 9 AM - 10 PM.


2. HALDIRAMS, SINCE 1983.

If the only concern that stops you from getting berserk on the array of street chaats, sweets and savories tantalizing your taste buds is the thought of unclean hands and unhygienic roadside conditions, then Haldirams is the shop tailor-made for you!

Haldiram, famous Chandni Chawk eatery, Delhi

Haldirams is a high-end sweet and savories snack shop, also one of the oldest in the Chandni Chowk area, packing in almost every taste that the streets of Delhi offer. North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, street food, desserts, ice creams, namkeens, quick-bites – you name it and they have it!

A sneak peak in the eatery of Haldiram, famous Chandni Chawk, Delhi

We went there during breakfast time and found the eatery packed with a big crowd - again a great indication for the quality of the place. There are share-tables laid down inside the shop where you can self-serve yourself and people-watch other people munching their heart away. Alternatively, you can grab yourself a personal-seater table on the first floor which is fully air conditioned with service provided.

When compared to its siblings on the streets, the food at Haldirams is a little bit on the expensive side – but for the quality taste and service it serves along with the wide assortment of food – the extra money spent is well worth it!

What to eat?

Whatever makes your mouth water! All the food at Haldirams is neatly displayed behind the glass shelves for you to see, sample and choose. My personal favorite is the samosas, spicy potato dumplings stuffed in deep fried coat of flour eaten with tangy tamarind and hot coriander chutneys.

Yummy samosas at Haldiram, famous Chandni Chawk eatery, Delhi

Priced at a reasonable Rs. 12 for a piece, the aftertaste of the hot and fresh samosas left me craving for more. I decided to top it up with a sweet and helped myself with a Rasmalai, which was extremely fresh and delicious as well.

Address:

1454/2, Near Sheeshganj Gurudwara, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi.

How to get there?

Once you get to the Sheesh Ganj Gurudwara, you can easily find Haldirams located on the opposite side of the Chandni Chowk road.

Timings:

9 AM to 10 PM.


3. MANGO KULFI AT KUREMAL MAHAVIR PRASAD KULFIWALA, SINCE 1908.

After all the chaats, it was now time for the dessert we had an eye on, even before the trip commenced - Mango Kulfi at Kuremal Mahavir Prasad Kulfiwala which was first introduced to me by one of the fabulous guides by the passionate food blogger Mark of Migrationology. Going by his description and pictures, the delicacy sounded too innovative and novel to be given a miss!

The Kuremal family has an ancestral lineage in the making of seasonally flavored fresh fruit kulfi ice creams that boasts of a huge loyal clientele today. On offer is sweetness overload - an incredibly wide array of flavors, around 50 in number, more famed among these being the Mango Kulfi - an exotic avatar of street food packed in a natural delight!

Narrow lane leading to Mango kulfi ice cream at Sitaram Bazaar, famous Chandni Chawk eatery, Delhi

Don’t go expecting a high-class ambiance though; the place is a small storehouse like shop, located in a purani galli amidst a clutter of old mansions but then, doesn't that sound like a charming ambiance of its own? 

What to eat?

Try anything that you may like but DO try the Mango Kulfi!

If the name conjures up a mix of mango and kulfi, then you’re on the right track. Except that there’s a twist. Fresh, ripe and good quality alphonso mangoes are picked up from the market, the top head cut off and the seed along with the adjoining flesh removed. This hollow is then filled with the rich and creamy Indian milk ice cream kulfi, covered with an earthen urn and iced up for a good time.

Mango Kulfi icecream - famous Chandni Chawk street food, Delhi

The earthen urn is broken off later, when customers like you and me turn up for a serving. The breaking of the urn reveals the mango covering which is peeled off to expose the sunshine colored, wonderfully flavored sweet Mango Kulfi.

The special Kulfis are priced at Rs. 60 per order; you can also go for the Kulfi sticks which are relatively cheaper.

Address: Kucha Pati Ram, Bazar Sita Ram, Delhi, 110006.

How to get there?

Tucked in amongst the old havelis of Kucha Pati Ram, off Sitaram Bazaar, the place is difficult to find. We kept asking shopkeepers about the location and most of the time, either the shopkeepers gave us a perplexed look or they directed us to a wrong lane (one even said that the shop no longer exists!). We were nearly on the verge of giving the exercise up when fortunately; a Good Samaritan guided us towards the right lane. All I can say is that keep trying and enjoy the journey – it’s a narrow lane and the shop IS there somewhere - once you get to your destination, you won’t be disappointed.

Timings: Not fixed.



4. NATRAJ DAHI BHALLE, 70 + YEARS RUNNING.

Another chaat item to go for, when in Delhi, especially when you are beating the heat of the Indian summers, is this ultimate revitalizing cooler - Dahi Bhalle. And there are fewer (or no!) better places in Delhi that serves this dish better than Natraj Dahi Bhalle.

Natraj Dahi Bhalla joint, famous Chandni Chawk street food, Delhi

This old stall is a small hole in the wall shop and its popularity
is evident by the fact that it is almost always swarmed with the locals.

To combat this crowd, the shopkeepers generally keep a large spread of assorted dahi bhalla tin foil plates ready to be served at their counter but this trick doesn’t seem to help much. The plates are swiped off sooner and there are always hands stretched out to place their orders.

The tip here is to considerately make your way in. Once you have secured your share of the creamy pleasure, find a decent place for yourself where you can eat in peace and enjoy seeing others eating as well! There is no seating space, even standing space is restricted so you have to make your way somewhere on the pavements or the roadsides.

What to eat?

Dahi Bhalla is really the thing to go for when you are here although you do get aloo tikkis too. But what I took was a plate of Dahi Bhalle, which had 2 pieces in it, costing Rs. 40 and really loved the taste.

Dahi Bhalla at Natraj Dahi Bhalla, famous Chandni Chawk eatery, Delhi

Dahi Bhallas are fried lentil dunklings smothered in rich, fresh creamy yoghurt dressed with the flavorful blend of spicy coriander chutney, tangy tamarind chutney topped with very edible pomegranate seeds and a host of other Indian masalas to lend them their exclusive spicy, tangy and sweet taste.

Address: 1396, Chandni Chowk Road, Sis Ganj Guru Dwara, Maliwara Tiraha Bazar, Katra Dhulia, New Delhi.

How to get there?

Take the narrow alleyway leading to the Chandni Chowk metro station, you will find this eatery at the end of the alleyway.

Timings: 11 AM - 9 PM.

Contact number: 09811208811.


5. HOLE-IN-THE-WALL CHAAT SHOPS, since times unknown.

When it comes to the roadside version of food, Delhi is quite a legacy. Samosas, Kachoris, Chole Kulche’s, Pani Puris – there’s an amazing array of exotic flavors scattered all around the town in tiny little shops and modest-looking pushcarts, many of which have been passed down through generations.

A famous hole in the wall shop in Chandni Chawk street, Delhi

All you need to do is get down to walking the exploring the city’s chaotic streets and bazaars by foot and let the gastronomic smells guide you. Out there, amid the chaos are vendors serving the most delicious chats that shall not only satiate your hunger cravings but serve you an experience for a lifetime! Alternatively - if you don't find the time and energy to make your way through the chaos, try ordering your favorite food through one of the famous online food delivery websites and get a slice of Delhi happiness delivered right at your doorstep. 

What to eat and where?

The Chandni Chowk area and Paharganj area are good places to explore for roadside eateries. Here, you can get everything that North Indian street food is known for – Pani Puri, Aloo tikki, Puri Bhaji, Samosas, Kachoris, Papdi Chat and Chole Kulchas.

Roadside street Kachoris being fried in Chandni Chawk, Delhi

Aloo Tikki at Natraj Dahi Bhalla, famous Chandni Chawk street food, Delhi

The owners behind these pushcarts and small hole in the wall shops are generally friendly people, quite happy to get chatting about their food. They would tell you everything of how their ancestors made it to Delhi with dreams of making it big and boast of secret recipes handed down from their fathers and grandfathers. Whatever the reality might be – if their food tastes great, you really want to believe in their stories as well!

A crowded hole in the wall shop in Chandni Chawk street, Delhi

A little warning on the hygiene though - most of these may not always follow a regimented order of cooking. What you can still do, on your part as foodies, is follow the universal tip: If there is a crowd, around a cart – it must be good.


These was my round-up of the street food fare from Chandi Chowk area of Delhi.
Of course, there's a lot more to be found and eaten, I know.
Please add to this list in the comment section - and, I will be there next time!
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