This post doesn’t really need an introduction. I love eating off the street and in this list I’ve put down some of the best meals I’ve ever had.
1. Chhole Bhature: A combination of spicy chick peas and fried bread (as described by wikipedia), it is the most delicious breakfast you can get on the streets of Delhi. There are many well known chhole bhature- wallas like Sita Ram Dewanchand and Nagpal. However, my absolutely favourite chhole bhature place remains Chache di Hatti in Kamla Nagar. The chhole are tangy and spicy and the bhature are stuffed with potatoes. I admit it is oily and rather unhealthy but its worth every calorie! At about Rs. 30 a plate, its definitely one of the cheaper breakfast items (they used to be Rs. 18 back when I discovered them)! Best to get there before 2:30 pm as they run out rather fast.
2. Puri Chhole: A cousin of the chhole bhature, I have wonderful memories of plates and plates of puri chhole at Bille Di Hatti. This wonderful little establishment is also located in Kamla Nagar in North Delhi, not too far from Chache di Hatti and serves delectable puri chhole with sweet lassi (a yogurt based drink).
3. Cheese pav bhaji: Native to Mumbai, it is a combination of bread (pav) gently fried in butter served with a mixture of vegetables topped with butter and cheese. I confess, I’ve never loved Mumbai too much, but I will visit periodically simply because I love the cheese pav bhaji on Chowpatty. Many other variants of the pav bhaji are also available here, the dry fruit pav bhaji or mushroom pav bhaji for instance.
4. Saaj and Falafel: Falafel is probably the best known middle eastern snack. I will always have fond memories of the super-falafelman in Umm Qais, Jordan (he made 1 falafel per second). We ate those falafels with Saaj (the fresh hot bread from the bakery next door) and labneh from the dairy (which was also, conveniently, next door) and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had on the road. Anyone travelling to Jordan, look for this guy on the way to Umm Qais, he’s awesome!
5. Samosa Sandwich: This is a dish that I believe is indigenous to Baroda in Gujarat, because I have never found it anywhere else. Pieces of samosa (which needs no description) between 2 slices of bread topped with ketchup, green chutney and a generous amount of cheese. It is delicious! One of the only places to eat this: Vishal Samosa Sandwich in Alkapuri, Baroda. One cheese topped sandwich costs Rs. 30.
6. Chaat: Sev puri, golgappas (pani puris or puchkas), dahi bhalla, aaloo tikki… this is quite a long list. Everyone has their favourites and mine vary according to my mood. Right now I do remember, the dahi bhallas and aaloo tikkis at Natraj Bahi Bhalla in Chandni Chowk, Delhi rather fondly.
7. Parathas: This stuffed bread is found all over North India. Somehow, I never liked the famous deep fried parathas in Parathe Wali Galli in Chandni Chowk. However, there are many roadside paratha wallas who make excellent parathas which are stuffed to their capacity and shallow fried. There are many different stuffings, vegetarian and non vegetarian. Some of the most best parathas are to be had in various dhabas in Murthal, Haryana. In Delhi, there are places like Tanku ka Dhaba in Qutb Institutional Area, the Moolchand Paratha wala famous for his egg parathas and many others.
8. Rajma Chawal: My list could not possibly be complete without this: Red kidney beans in a spicy and tangy tomato gravy served with rice. Okay the description probably does not sound too appetising but you need to eat this to believe it. Its one of the more popular lunches in Delhi and is definitely much healthier than most (or all) of the other items on this list without being any less delicious. I’ve been told that the best rajma chawal to be had in Delhi is in Nehru Place in South Delhi but sadly, I haven’t tried it yet*. I have had the rajma chawal in Shankar Market in Delhi and it is pretty fantastic.
9. Momos: There are a variety of these dumplings available: vegetarian and non vegetarian, steamed and fried. I love them with the red chilli sauce! There are many well known momo vendors all over, I don’t really have a particular favourite.
10. Kebabs: This item needs no introduction either. Everyone thinks of Chandni Chowk when they think of Kebabs and for good reason, they’re pretty awesome. However, there are a couple of really good places in South Delhi as well. My favourites: The Galauti Kebab with Mughlai Paratha at Rajinder da Dhaba in Safadjung and the Kakori Kebab with Varqi Paratha at Al Quresh which is in Yeshwant Place Complex on Vinay Marg.
11. Mattar Kulcha/ Paratha: I know this is a list of ten memorable street foods but I simply couldn’t exclude it. Call it an honorary mention. This is one of the cheapest snacks you can get on the streets of Delhi which is both delicious and filling (Rs. 10- 15 per plate). The mattar or peas are cooked and then mixed with spices, onions, chillies and drizzled with lime juice before being served with warm kulchas or parathas. This was what got me through college.
*I finally tried the Rajma Chawal at Standard’s Punjabi Khana in Nehru Place and I wasn’t disappointed. It was perfect.