It’s a hard job for a foodie but Mouli Bardhan gobbles up the street food experience of Delhi. Here Check Out Mouli Bardhan Street food experience.
Donning my comfortable shoes, I am ready for action. It’s 9.30am and we stand in a street in Old Delhi, a bustling district of India’s capital that is home to over 11 million inhabitants – and growing!
The city is waking up: as the iron shutters of little shops clatter to signify they are open for business, the streets fill with people, meandering cows, bicycle rickshaws and motorbikes.
Gagan, my knowledgeable tour guide for the next few hours, leads me through the many unidentifiable narrow streets and alleys. I could easily get lost here alone. There is so much to discover.
Having grown up in Delhi and worked as a tour guide for over seven years, Gagan proudly tells me he knows these streets like the back of his hand. With him around, I relax and open myself up to the multi-sensory experience that is happening: honking vehicles, excited chatter, the clatter of wagon wheels on the asphalt, and fragrant spicy aromas mingling with the smell of burning waste.
As we take a turn down a narrow side street, my nose suddenly takes in something sweet. We have stopped outside Imriti, where traditional sweet makers welcome me with a big smile, pleased to have a curious foreign customer.
As smoke rises from a large vat of hot oil, I realise that the first meal of my day is super sweet, super sticky and extremely tasty: it’s the Jalebi.
Right next door, there are Bedmi pooris (a fried Indian flatbread) being made. The dough is kneaded so skilfully that can only come from years of practise. Once one has been freshly fried before my eyes I gobble it up with a slightly spicy sauce. Yum!
As we continue to stroll through the streets, Gagan enthusiastically shares history about Old Delhi, including his own stories from childhood. The way he describes it, I realise that time has stood still here. Nothing has changed.
Traders still line up to sell their goods – stalls that are dedicated to nuts, dried fruits, the pungent garlic or rosey hues of pomegranate. There is so much to see and admire.
I inhale a sharp smell when we reach an open backyard. No wonder: the ground is ladenwith hundreds of bags brimming with chillies. Who eats them all? I wonder. It becomes clear here why India is the world’s largest chilli producer and consumer.
We take a break at a local chai (tea) stall where we drink fresh masala chai. As the seller meticulously shows me how it is prepared, I realise there is an art to it. He openly chatters to me in Hindi about how proud he is that his son -who wants to become a maths teacher – goes to school. I share a smile with him – it is his son who is doing the translation into English for me.
The most popular Indian sweet outside of India is probably the gulab jamun but Gagan tells me that I haven’t lived until I try the best kheer in India, which happens to be located just around the corner.
Kheer is a sweet rice pudding with raisins and nuts. The Old Kheer shop opens at 11am each day and sells out within three hours, making the owner a very wealthy and well-known man in the city! Lucky for us, we are right on time. It’s delicious!
We feast on namkeen, some large, spicy fried snacks that are sold in jumbo family-sized bags.
The more that Gagan and I walk along and chat, the more I realise I have gone from being a silent observer, but part of the scene, talking and laughing with the vendors we pass.
I’m already feeling full when we reach a stand that sells Pani Puris – a popular and tasty concoction of sharp, sweet and sour flavors, so I pass on trying them. Gagan happily knocks backs a plateful.
When we reach Old Delhi’s most famous restaurant, Karims, I cannot say no to its mouthwatering tandoori chicken that I am told is the most authentic you’ll ever get. I gobble it up with fresh Indian breads. This is the perfect end to a fantastic street food experience.
It’s only noon but I think I will be skipping lunch and instead opt for a little nap to rest my food baby. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences in one morning that I think I could write several books! Happy food memories like this should never fade.
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