This yellow belly backpacker made her way to India last December and for 2 weeks explored all the sights, smells and flavours there is to explore about Indian food. I wanted to share my best bits with you guys because I’d LOVE if what I write can help you all out on your adventures or even better, inspire you to go on one. What better way to learn about a country and culture than through their food. I have noticed from travelling throughout Asia that it’s the heart and soul of every community, its the centre and soul of everyday life and I just love it.
So. One of my favourite things to do in a new city is explore it by… a food walk of course! AND I’ve been thinking (wouldn’t be like me), that there must be other people out there that love to do the same. Is there anything better than seeing where the best places are to eat, the places all the locals go, the ones down the side streets that, if truth be told, you wouldn’t dare venture down alone or are just hidden that we may not be so lucky to find, I am pretty good at hunting them out. But in this case, I was fortunate not to have had to and could leave that up to someone with far more experience with the streets of Delhi. So here goes, my first food tour blog thanks to the lovely Anubhav of Delhi food tours + Ellen, my yellow belly backpacking buddy, the one who was videoing me eating goat’s trotters in old Delhi, not looking my finest, to have one up on me, but we will forgive her for that (only just) + don’t worry I got her back!!!
First things first… CHAI. Nope not chai tea or chai late or anything else. Chai, just Chai. Chai translates as tea so to say chai tea means tea tea, ok you get the gist. I now am a Chai snob because while in India I became 99.9% chai. one day we had like 6 glasses each, in our defence they are small. I even came home with chai spices AND glasses (see the ones I got at the end- thanks to Anubhav for helping me hunt them down) to feed my addiction, yes I was hooked! and rightly so… that creamy, frothy, light and spicy milky hug in a mug was just heaven. This guy below made the best chai in Delhi, possibly India so of course Anubhav brought us here, only the best! It kind of was a sense of home, the people were so friendly, there was one man he was making toast over the open flame by the kettle where he was waiting for the water to boil, tea + toast anyone?
What a lot of people don’t know is there’s chai + chai masala. Now, most chai has a little spice added to it but it’s the chai masala you’re after. It’s tea, milk, water, sugar + spices + it’s just the best. I’ve actually just got up since I wrote that last sentence and put some on for myself… even went out to the prop room and got my glasses, it’s just not the same not in them. Now I’m 100% game to tell you SO much more about my food travels.
Ok ok so I may have had two, now it’s back to dreaming about Indian food.
Chole kulcha aka chickpea soup heaven. It was topped with thinly sliced ginger and loads of coriander, mango sauce, butter, all the good stuff.
Do me a favour, find this guy down a side street. he has a famous BYOB stand, but not as we know it, its bring your own butter, of course it is, we’re in India. he adds half of it to the and puts the other half on top to ooze into the sauce. He’s never without a queue and the food is tip top. You know a place is good when there are so many locals eating there.
I think one of the best things about this tour was going to the spice market. I had never seen anything like it before, like I mean spices I had never seen before. They use litchen in Indian cooking did you know that? I sure as hell didn’t, there was bags and bags of it there. He also brought us all the way up to the roof terraces where you could see spices and food trying in the sun and workers lay on the rooftop for a mid-day nap, I almost joined them. almost.
But back to our first food stop which was Shyam sweets, it has been dishing out the most incredible nagori halwa in the early hours of the morning in Delhi since 1910. Here, they have only two options available at breakfast time Nagori and desi bedwi, both equally delicious. Below you can see this incredible man, sitting up on a table making the , basically they are dough balls stuffed with lentils, rolled out and fried twice it has the most incredible flavour and is super light and crispy. We ate this with potato curry + chickpea curry. You know what I remember at this stand. We started our food tour here and saw these two guys (obviously fellow travellers) three other times that day in Delhi, weird and crazy knowing the size and amount of people in Delhi, now there’s a random useless fact, but something I won’t forget! Anyway, back to the food, we had a sweet dish at this stand too which was the nagori halva, YUM!
Heard of Chloe bhature? OH MOMMA it’s good. What is it? it’s one of the nicest things that’ll past through your lips. It’s a Punjabi dish (from Northern India) + is a combination of chana masala and bhatura. It’s a breakfast dish and usually served in a silver tray, which my brother would have loved as a kid because every element has its own little slot, no fear of one piece touching off the other here!! So Chana masala is a chickpea masala, yeah you heard me right, heaven. It’s made from chickpeas, onions, spices and tomatoes Bhature is a fried bread, which we actually got to see being made. Love that shit, like actually getting to see locals cook stuff, I’d stand there all day and watch them. I love how it’s so easy to them, they just flow and move and are able to do it effortlessly without even thinking and I find it just mesmerising. Anyway, Bhatura is made using flour and sometimes with semolina added to give it more texture, olled bhatura to hot oil and press gently with a ladle, until it starts to puff. A typical recipe includes white flour (madia), ghee and yoghurt (dahi), and either yeast or baking powder. After kneading the dough is left to rise, and then small balls of it are either hand-rolled or flattened using a rolling pin. Bhatura is added to hot oil and pressed gently with a ladle, until it starts to puff. I had to give you a run through of the process there. The way they make these, wish I videoed it, next time! will there be a next time India? Hope so!
Goat’s trotters…. yep I tried them. I have always been great to try new things, even as a tiny tot, and things weren’t about to change here. I don’t think I’ll be running back for them, it was similar texture to chicken feet, pretty much all fat, not really my thing, the flavour was amazing, I just couldn’t get past the texture. the sauce however was amazing and Karims is famous. After that, on the street, homeless people queue outside restaurants and people can buy them meals, It was incredible to see how only a few euro could feed so many!
I love Indian food and chances are, since I’ve SO many places to tell you guys about I might not make it back to tell you more about Indian food until my next trip so stick with me.
Malaiyo, MY FAVOURITE! This dessert deserves a blog post of it’s own really. I’m so glad we were in India when we were, it’s a winter dessert, Che Ching. I had watched several you tubers chat about it and had my malaiyo eyes set on Varanasi (the home of malaiyo) but since travel plans change that didn’t happen. luckily Anubhav can read minds and brought me to the best malaiyo stand in Old Delhi. Not sure what you define as a food stall/stand but a man with a cart on the side of the street is good enough for me, especially if the cart has malaiyo. This seasonal dessert foam is like eating clouds, if I ever got to eat clouds I’m sure it would be the very same as this. I don’t know how they contain it within the bowl but I wasn’t asking questions, you guys do what you need to do to bring us this. they sprinkle the milk foam in pistachios and what I think is like a crystallised milk, correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway, genius stuff and honestly I’m not going to even attempt to recreate this as I’d just butcher it.
In case I couldn’t love the food tour and Indian food anymore, Anubhav informed us that in India, just like the malaiyo, most food is seasonal, especially desserts. They of course use fruit and vegetables which is readily available and use what is grown within the country. When we were there carrots were in season so the sweet treats pictured above were made from them, and were only available at that time. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
You can’t leave India without trying something drenched in sugar syrup. Ok, so something we didn’t try on the food tour which is a must while in India (like don’t even tell me you were in India if you don’t try these) are gulab jamun, they are usually served hot in a sugar syrup and are similar to doughnuts. + jalebi, eat them, lots of them and worry about the calories later! Another thing, not going to lie, I didn’t have one lassi in India, I loved a milkshake growing up but I didn’t have the best experience with one in Nepal, can’t say the lumpy milky texture did it for me but whenever I get back I’ll give it another go. If anyone has recommendations for the best places let me know, I hear Varanasi are where the best ones are at?
If you’d like to know more about this trip or want to do a food walk in Delhi, or other cities Anubhav is your man. He runs lots of different food walks breakfast, Chandi chowk + old Delhi along with cooking classes + market walks. But there’s one condition, if you go I want to hear about it all and re-live the memories. http://www.delhifoodwalks.com/walks