So, you know I love to travel… and so many of my travels are initially chosen because of my love of food from the region and desire to eat/learn more about it. Similar trips have included Morocco, Japan, Vietnam and Costa Rica are all are prime examples of exactly that philosophy of inspiring further food and dishes for SORTEDfood. But the latest voyage was to India and from a food point of view… more specifically Delhi!
I teamed up with a guy called Anubhav Sapra who is the founder and still actively runs Delhi Food Walks. He was kind enough to be my personal tour guide all around Delhi the day after I landed and I couldn’t have been more grateful for it. Delhi was a sentry overload… so many sights, sounds, smells and commotion that as a weary first-time traveller to the city I would never have experienced even half of the stuff that he showed me.
Here were some of the highlights:
1. The Breakfast Tour
Old Delhi is a crazy place. The streets are narrow, pretty dirty and the place is busy and bustling. First thing in the morning is the best time to explore, before many of the shops have opened. What you’ll find (especially if being guided by Anubhav) is a whole host of tasty dishes from vendors in side-alleys. Fried breads like Bedmi Pooris served with spicy potato curry, a chana masala served with roti, refreshing ice cold lassi drinks and a bow of nahari with naan (a mutton curry that’s been slow cooking all night). A taste sensation and all not just good but delicious and perfectly safe! If you’ve ever been worried about street food in India, don’t be. A lot of it is vegetarian, it’s cooked fresh everyday and is often safer than some of the cheaper restaurants. I ate EVERYTHING and didn’t have any ‘problems’.
2. The Wholesale Spice Market
A place where huge volumes of chillies and spices are traded. No purchase less than 100kg it’s definitely for other large retailers. Wow… the smell in the air was so strong that after just a few minutes we were physically coughing and sputtering… the traders all wore scarves over their mouths to protects them. I’d never seen spices so fresh: star anise, whole tamarind, turmeric, dried pomegranate seeds, peppercorns and cinnamon bark. It was an attack on the senses.
I had no idea what these even were before going to India… turns out… a Nepalese dish of steamed dumplings. As was Anubhav’s style, we tried 3 plates of them from 3 different vendors so that we could get a real feel for them. The traditional ones were clean and simple with minced chicken, ginger and onion steamed in huge steamers and bought by students before a night out. Then we went for the fusion of tandoori momos- these were incredible! Filled with chicken tikka pieces, the dumplings were then cooked inside the tandoor oven to go slightly crispy and finishes with a butter sauce. Unreal. Quite literally the best food for after a few drinks! Then we ended up at Queen’s Boulevard, a cool restaurant with the coolest team behind it. They did the classic ones, the tandoori ones and then several awesome fusions… including… one in a tomato and vodka sauce! Yum!
4. Butter Chicken
Known as one of the most iconic dishes from north India and Delhi specifically but very different to how the dish with the same name is served in the UK. Anubhav took me to Aslam Chicken in Old Delhi where they’ve been making the recipe the exact same way for over 20 years. Marinated chicken pieces (mostly on the bone) are skewered and cooked over a coal grill, helped with plenty of fanning to crank up the heat, then tossed in a sprinkle of their house special masala spices, white sauce and PLENTY of clarified butter. It’s cooked on the street, served on the street and you can either sit in or, like we did… eat on the go with a handkerchief roti. Watch this and drool!
5. Masala Chai
I think I might have got addicted to this stuff. For as little as 10 rupees (about 12p Stirling) you could get a small cup of sweet spiced tea. Often served in disposable cups (and recommended if you’re not a local as the chai glasses tend to be ‘washed’ in local water) but occasionally also in single use terracotta cups. The way the tea was prepared a few cups at a times with fiercely hot stoves and then poured through a sieve from a great height without spilling a drop was a marvel to watch… see! We’ve got a recipe for masala chai which you might like to try… but there’s something about getting it from a chaiwala and standing around sipping the hot sweet tea that makes it extra special.
Next time you’re in a new city remember to tweet using #LostAndHungry and let the SORTEDfood community be your guide. It’s so worth it. You’ll come across places you never expected to visit.
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