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What to Eat in Delhi
It is famous for its street food. The variety consists of snacks, especially chaat.
1. Aloo chaat
For this very basic very delicious chaat boiled potatoes (aloo) are cubed fried and spiced up then served hot with toothpicks. These hunks of frying potato on large flat tawas manned by chaat walas are a common sight on Delhis streets.
2. Aloo tikki
This popular North Indian street chaat or snack is a goldenfried potato (aloo) patty often stuffed with something like peas or daal and served with a variety of spicy chutneys and sometimes chole (chickpeas). It varies according to stall and restaurant but its always crispy hot and satisfying. If its aloo tikki chaat yogurt and boiled potato will likely be involved too. None of which is to be confused with the chopped and spicedup fried potato chunks known as aloo chaat. (What can we say Delhiites certainly like their fried potatoes!)
3. Bedmialoo nagorihalwa
One of Indias best oddball savorysweet pairings and a popular Delhi breakfast (especially in winter) bedmialoo and nagorihalwa are two distinct dishes eaten together. The former is the savory part: a puffy hefty deepfried purilike bread made of wheat flour spices and dal called bedmi which is served with a spicy aloo sabzi or potato curry. The latter is nagori a small crispy crumbly puri made with suji (semolina) and ghee paired with suji halwa kind of like a sweet dry porridge likewise cooked in ghee. So what do you do with this stuff? Take a savory bite; take a sweet bite. Some people like to stuff some halwa into a piece of nagori and then dunk that into the aloo before eating. Such mixandmatch flavor combos may challenge your notion of what constitutes a balanced breakfast but if youre like us youll welcome it with open arms.
4. Naan roti chapati
Naan is a soft leavened flatbread made of white flour thats traditionally cooked in a tandoor or clay oven; its generally offered either plain buttered or stuffed with say garlic aloo (potato) or minced mutton (which is then called keema or qeema naan). Roti and chapati are both unleavened wheatflour breads rolled out much thinner than naan and cooked on a tawa or flat griddle; the breads are so similar as to be interchangeable in name (technically chapati is a type of roti) and so popular that the average Indian will have some at every meal. Roti however has quite a few varieties including the pillowy tandoori roti cooked in the tandoor and the roomali roti which is rolled out extra thin and often acts as the wrap in kebab rolls. Sheermaal is yet another bread youre likely to encounter particularly in MuslimMughlai restaurants; a sweet variety of naan made with saffron it hails from Lucknow in nearby Uttar Pradesh.
5. Butter chicken
A favorite dish of Delhi butter chicken is one of several Punjabassociated foods with a likely Mughlai influence. The Mughals Muslim emperors who ruled India for a few centuries beginning in the 16th were fond of a royally rich cuisine: boldly flavored curries; lots of ground and whole spices dried fruits and nuts; roasted meats. The fact that some of these qualities were shared and/or adapted by Punjabi cooks explains why this type of food is still found all over North India. But of those bold curries butter chicken or murgh makhani is the richest of all. The Punjabi founder of Delhis Moti Mahal restaurant (see below) claims to have invented both this and tandoori chicken basically the former was created once a buttery sauce was devised for the latter but butter chicken retains many of the Mughlai trademarks: roasted meat lots of spices a thick gravy of butter cream and tomato. Add some fluffy traditional naan or better yet butter naan and its impossible to go wrong.
6. Chicken changezi
A nonveg Delhi favorite chicken changezi is roasted chicken cooked with tomato ginger garlic onions green chilies fresh coriander (cilantro) spices and plenty of oil until its packed with spicy flavor and richly red in color. Its roots are Punjabi and its name possibly connected to Genghis (a.k.a. Changez) Khan though we can only guess how or why. Sure the Mughals were descended from a sect of Mongols going back a few centuries or maybe the dishs bright hue and strong spice profile is meant to evoke a ruthless conqueror with a redhot temper? Seems a bit of a stretch we know. But all you need to know is: Its absolutely delicious.
7. Chicken ishtu
The ishtu (also spelled ishtoo ishtew) of Delhi has a mild onionbased stewlike sauce dotted with plenty of khada masala or whole spices cloves cardamom pods and more plus a healthy pooling of oil on top. (In the south its different prepared with coconut milk). The texture is of minced onion and garlic; the flavor nutty slightly tangy and aromatic. Both mutton and chicken are common meats usually served on the bone. Etymology note: According to Delhi food blog Eat and Dust its quite likely that ishtew evolved from the Hindi pronunciation of stew in fact sometimes youll see it on menus as stew and possible that the dish itself is derived from the Brits own brown stew.
8. Chole bhature
Sort of the unofficial dish of New Delhi though its popular elsewhere in North India chole bhature is a Punjabi concoction of spicy curried chickpeas (chole) and puffy fried whiteflour bread (bhature) most often eaten together for breakfast (its also known as chana bhatura). Come mornings popular chole bhature spots are crowded with everyone from local rickshaw drivers and shopkeepers to university students all looking for a delicious cheap meal. Tell a local you ate this for breakfast and youll get the widest grin imaginable.
9. Chole kulche
Delhiites are particularly fond of their curried chickpeas (chole) especially as seen in this popular street food and its sister chole bhature. While in the latter the chole is paired with puffy fried bread (bhature) kulche refers to the fluffy usually ovalshaped baked bread made from maida flour that acts as chole vehicle for this traditional Punjabi dish. To further confuse matters the chole in this case are often not chickpeas but yellow or green peas. But all you really need to know? The soft thick slightly sour kulcha plus tangy spicy chole is a match made in streetfood heaven.
10. Dahi bhalla
The perfect cooling chaat and stomach soother on a hot Delhi day dahi bhalla consists of creamy dahi or yogurt and bhalla bready fried lentil fritters (usually of urad dal). The peppery bhalla get soaked and smothered by the yogurt then topped with pink pomegranate seeds chewy yellow raisins and sweet tamarind chutney. The creamy result as with the best chaats is a spicy sweet tangy amalgam of flavors in a snacksize portion.
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