Food Trail #1: Chandini Chowk

Like I mentioned in a blog before, I have been grappling with writing and have diagnosed myself with writer’s block. I was hoping that writing about something I am passionate about will help and I hope I am right this time. 

Delhi in winters is perfect during the day when the sun shines brightly with a cool breeze blowing. It’s the perfect time to be out door. It’s the perfect time to explore Delhi on foot. What better place to start from but the oldest, crowdest, busiest and craziest streets of Chandini Chowk! For people who don’t know about Chandini Chowk, it is famous by many names – Dilli 6, Purani Dilli, Old Delhi etc. There are many crazy intertwined streets that are at some places almost claustrophobic. The place is famous for many things but more so for its rich heritage in terms of old havelis, Jama Masjid, Sees Ganj Gurudwara amongst others and the richer food that you get here. If you Google about the food choices available here you will be spoilt for choice. From proper restaurants to street food to decade old shops specialising in specific food items, this place is a gold mine for any foodie who is open for experimenting. But you must be warned that the places here are almost always super crowded and before venturing to Chandini Chowk one must get their psuhing and shoving game upto mark.

So this wonderful winter Saturday, my friends and I decided to venture to Chandini Chowk and follow a predecided food trail. We all caught the metro to Chandini Chowk (Chandini Chowk station on the yellow line). As soon as we exited the metro station we made our way to our first stop which is a few hundred meters from the metro station – Natraj Dahi Bhalla Corner.

This place is extremely famous for its Dahi Bhalla. I’ve been eating chaat from here since I was a kid and it still tastes super amazing. For 50 rupees a plate, one gets to hog on this delightful snack (after you have been shoved around by the multitudes of people outside the shop).

From here we started walking in the direction of the town hall in the hope of finding our next stop. Along the way we were all tempted by the sight of “rabri” being sold on the road side. We bought a plate (costs 30 rupees) to just taste it. It was pretty damn amazing. We were all floored by the rabri and didn’t eat more only cause we had a food trail schedule to stick to. 

We walked around Chandini Chowk looking for our next destination. I love the feel of Old Delhi. Somehow despite how rapidly Delhi has evolved, this part of the city has still retained its oldern world charm. We crossed the town hall, some mosques and hurriedly walked around looking for our next stop.

Our next stop was Jung Bahadur Kachori Waala to have kachori with aloo. 

The serving includes kachori, sabzi and some very spicy green chilli topping. For people who don’t enjoy spicy food, avoiding the chillies is the best course to take. The kachoris here were selling fast with a large crowd outside. I enjoyed the kachori mostly because it was fresh and hot. It isn’t very different from the kachoris you get across Delhi and so I wasn’t totally thrilled with the effort we put into finding this place. 

Along the way towards the gali exit, we noticed a man selling freshly made nankhatai and we decided to taste it. 

For 40 rupees we got about 8-9 pieces. They were warm because they were freshly made. And they were amazing! They melted in the mouth and were not too sweet. It was worth the stop!

We passed through the parathe waali gali on our way to our next stop. The gali was jam-packed during lunch time with waiting of about 40mins at each of the restaurants. Since, none of us wanted to eat parathe we decided to quickly wade our way through the scores of people which proved to be quite a task. Serious crowd alert for people visiting here on a weekend. 

Our next stop was so famous that they decided to put famous in their name. 

The ‘Old Famous Jalebi Waala’ at Dariba Kalan! I am not the biggest fan of jalebis but one look at the jalebis and I wanted to have them all. Unlike the regular jalebis, one piece of jalebi here weighs 100gms (50 rupees for every 100gms) and is huge! It is the best jalebi I have ever had. One can also have the same with rabri! 

We decided to take a break from the eating and go visit the new cool place in Chandini Chowk, the Dharampura Haveli. This is an ancient Haveli that has been renovated into a hotel and has Kathak performances in the evening during the weekend. Unfortunately on reaching the Haveli, we learnt that it costs 350 rupees per person just to enter the Haveli and none of us were in a mood to dish out that kind of money on anything but food. Hence, we bid adieu to the Haveli and decided to walk to Jama Masjid where lied our last stop.

 The street outside Jama Masjid’s gate no.1 is a non vegetarian foodie’s paradise. The most famous restaurant in the area being Karims. We decided to head to All Jawahar to give this restaurant a try. I’m a vegetarian and having heard that the vegetarian food offered here is fantastic too, I really wanted to eat here. 

The non vegetarians with me quickly decided on eating Chicken chengezi and badami mutton. I settled for malai kofta and sheer maal. The food took a long time to come but it was worth it. The food was out of the world. A little too oily and heavy but it got all of us licking our fingers. A tip for anyone planning to go here, order smaller portions cause the food is very heavy. The service is extremely slow, so be patient cause the food is totally worth it. Also, I was so busy eating the food that I didn’t stop to take any pictures!

With this our food trail in Chandini Chowk came to an end. We were exhausted, sleepy and too full to walk. We walked around the streets of Chawri bazaar as we walked towards the metro station. Chandini Chowk is one of my favourite places in Delhi because it holds so many gems within itself. We didn’t go to a lot of other famous places like Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar, Choke Kulche waala, Moti Mahal, Haldirams and Karims, since we have been to these places before. I plan to do another trail in Chandini Chowk but this time a shopping trail where I plan to visit a few famous bridal lehenga shops, silver shops and imitation jewelry shops. Do let me know if there are any other gems that I’m missing out on! If you are a foodie, head to Chandini Chowk and follow your own trail or randomly keep eating whatever comes your way!

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