Food in India is diverse, the cuisine is widely divided from South to North, spicy to mild and vegetarian to non-vegetarian. To enjoy the rich and spicy food you must have healthy palate.
Food in India can be intimidating, and to eat like a local in Delhi one does need to know where to go. Walking alone in dingy streets of Chandni Chonk could be an overwhelming experience. Some tour companies in Delhi offer food walks with detailed plans if someone is apprehensive about walking alone. Having explored Delhi over past few years, it was easy for me to make my own itinerary. I have frequented many places since my childhood.
Many foodies would divide Delhi from traditional old Delhi/Chandni Chonk, Connaught Place to the new trendy areas like Cyber City or South Delhi. It was very hard for me to distinguish as I consider Delhi to be one mega food capital.
To keep this article interesting and not too long, I’ve listed limited places which I like. The list in not in particular order of choice or top rating.
Babu Ram Parathe Wala: Ever heard of Cashew, Almond or Mewa stuff paratha? You will get one here. Located in parathe wali gali, Chandni Chonk they are in business since 1868 offering crazy parathas. There are few more paratha restaurants in this small street, but Babu Ram Parathe Wala remains on the top of my list. The parathas are served with 3 kind of curries and accompanying with pickles and chutney. Traditional stuffed paratha is made on iron griddle with hearty dollop of ghee to shallow fry it. The parathas served here are deep fried in wok like pan, which makes them extra crisp. You can ask them to make the paratha less spicy if you have sensitive taste buds.
Kedr-Nath Prem-Chand Halwai: Walk further 100 meters in the street, and after couple of turns, you will see KedarNath Halwai. There are few food items you can try here including Kachori Sabji, Bedmi Puri and Nagori Halwa. Kachori stays on the top of my list. Kachori, is crispy, served dipped in hot, spicy and flavorsome potato curry, this will definitely tingle your taste buds. Lassi is also worth trying and is served in clay glass.
Kawarji’s Sweet Shop: After trying delectable parathas & spicy kachories, there is time to have something sweet to wipe the impact of chilies. This sweet shop is in business from 1850’s offering traditional Indian sweets. Do try gulab jamun and shahi toast or get some savory snacks mix packed for home.
Old Famous Jalebi Wala: Walk along the main road towards Lal Quila, and you would spot famous Jalebi wala on the corner of Chandni Chonk Marg and Sangatrashan Street. Similar to above mentioned places, this too was established over 100 years ago. To be honest various sweets shops in Delhi have much crisper and better jalebies, but I wouldn’t advise missing this place, as you will miss out on piece of history.
Karim’s: Karim’s is a must visit place for a foodie, a legacy – which many may consider as over hyped. Karim’s have opened various outlets in NCR region, but to experience the history and tradition, one must visit the Old Delhi branch near Jama Masjid. There is nothing fancy about the place, apart from delectable non vegetarian dishes. Gosht Ka Shorba and Mutton Nihari stay on the top of my list along with Chicken Jahangiri.
Kake Da Hotel: Established about 80 years ago, Kake Da Hotel in Connaught Place never failed to deliver tasty food, quick service at pocket friendly rates. Try Saag Meat and Keema Kaleji, this will satisfy all your taste buds. There is normally a wait for 20-30 minutes after 8pm, don’t get put off as it’s worth waiting for table.
Coffee Home: Craving for South Indian coffee can be calmed at Coffee Home located on Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place. The restaurant features old banyan tree in the courtyard. This Delhi tourism coffee Home is vintage and one of the oldest South Indian restaurant in Connaught Place.
Odean Paan: Think of the sweet paan flavor from chocolate to Strawberry and from ice paan to fire paan, you will get from Odean Paan. The small hawker stall is located in the middle circle of D block, Connaught Place. The paan wala will ask you to open your mouth so that he is place the freshly rolled paan in your mouth. Want to experience brain freeze, go for Ice paan. For at least 2 minutes you won’t know whats going on with your taste buds.
Sita Ram Diwan Chand: Old famous chana bhatura shop in Paharganj, they only serve till stock lasts. When I was kid, this place had no queues, now you can’t escape the queue, no matter what time you visit. The bhaturas are soft and fluffy, the chana curry is delicious with perfect balance of spices.
Punjab Grill: New addition compared to above historic places, Punjab Grill have multiple outlets in the city. The tandoori items both vegetarian and non-vegetarian are delectable, and my favorite item on their menu is Meat Punjab Grill, which is out of the world. The lassi with peda is a twist, which is worth trying.
Punjabi By Nature: Pani puri with Vodka Shot and side of beer, sounds tempting right? Make your way to one of the outlets in Delhi. Raan a Punjab and Murgh Makhani are one one of my favorite dishes.
The Potbelly: Time to step away from street food/curried/mughlai dishes to something more regional. The Potbelly café specialize in Bihari cuisine. Try the sabudana pakoda and most famous Bihari dish “Litti Chokha”. Among the various thali meals from menu, I like the Bhojpuri thali.
Bukhara: ‘Dal Bukhara’ may ring the bell; the world-famous lentil curry belongs to Bukhara. It’s very rare that I miss a visit to Bukhara during my travels to Delhi. Infect I plan my day in such a way that I have one meal at Bukhara. The restaurant is part of ITC Maurya hotel and offers uber luxurious surrounding and equally high price tag.