Chaat-hunting in Chandni Chowk is no easy feat. It may be one of the best places in Delhi to find delectable street food but it is also the most dangerous. Is it worth the risk? Well, I think so, but only if you know in advance where to find the tastiest snacks – as this is no place for a random cheeseburger!
If you make it past the vagabonds and scammers, and if you still have your wallet in your pocket, then it is time to stop bargain-hunting and now start to hunt down that famous Chaat from Chandni Chowk. Chaat is the term Indians use for snack foods (a bit like dim sum in Chinese cuisine), and it can be made up of literally hundreds of different foods. However, the best ones are readily available in every nook and cranny of Chandni Chowk. India is well known for its cheap and tasty street food, and Chandni Chowk could very well be the food-lovers’ Paradise!
I was told that Dahi Bhalla is one of the most popular street foods in Chandni Chowk, so I had to check it out. The most famous vendor for Dahi Bhalla is Natraj, where you can find very long queues at any time of the time, but especially at lunchtimes. The dish is made from savoury potato fritters known as ‘vada’ that are coated in thick yogurt. The ones I had were sprinkled with black pepper and green chilies. They taste AMAZING!
Now if you were wondering about street foods in Delhi, then wonder no more, for Paratha is the number one snack! This unleavened flatbread is made from layers of dough that are covered in ghee and then pan-fried before eating. This makes them more of a mouthful than the chapati that you get in Southern Indian and even more so than the dosa that you get in South East Asia. Everybody can be seen eating paratha in Chandni Chowk – it is literally a bread that goes with anything and everything!
One of the snacks I liked most of all in Chandni Chowk was momo, which are what Indian call steamed dumplings (these are similar to mandu from Korea, baozi from China and manti from Turkey etc.). There is a great fast food joint in India called “Wow Momo” which has taken these chaat items and turned them into a franchise. However, for the most authentic momo, you need to come to Chandni Chowk and buy some from the local vendors here. In addition, you can find plenty of sickly dried fruits from vendors around Delhi, and this I am told is one of the more popular types of chaat in the city. It might not be very Indian, but Indians seem to love it anyway!
For something to end your meal, why not hunt down some Falooda. This is a yogurt-like drink that can be served cold. It contains rose water, vermicelli, and tapioca pearls, among other things. It reminded me of Bubble Tea which is prevalent in Taiwanese cuisine. In Delhi, however, Giani’s Gi Hatti Rabri Falooda is the ultimate beverage – and it can also be served as a dessert, as Delhiites love their Falooda to resemble more of an ice cream sundae rather than a mere drink!
And who said Indian food was boring?!