When one hears the name Delhi, what should come to mind is the wide range of street food. Delhi-ites are best known for their love for food. They have an insatiable appetite and often travel for food. Nonetheless, what truly defines a Delhi and a Delhi-ite is the street food and love for the same. The reach for street food is far and wide and only gets more intriguing as you explore the food scene. Wander around the labyrinthine lanes of Old Delhi or Chandni Chowk and you will easily find street vendors churning out some of the delicious wonders. People gather around these stalls at any time of the day ordering one dish at a time. Ranging from freshly fried samosas to chaats to decadent desserts such as daulat ki chaat, find out more about some of the best street food you should try in Delhi, do continue reading.
1. Daulat ki chaat (cream of milk pudding)
Daulat ki chaat is a rich milk and cream dish which is found in Delhi only during winter. The dish is then garnished with toppings such as saffron and nuts. Making this dish takes some patience and effort. It involves three to four hours of simply churning the milk and then leaving it out overnight. It is also usually made when the temperatures are cooler especially between Diwali and Holi. It is believed that this dish collapses and loses its texture when temperatures are warm. There are many places in Delhi to enjoy this dish. However, the best place to get it would be in and around Chandni Chowk. Do remember that because this dish loses its texture with movement and temperature changes, it is probably best enjoyed on the spot right in front of the street vendor.
2. Paranthe (unleavened stuff flatbread)
Paranthas are very popular in Indian households, with many homes making them as part of their regular meals. These are pan-fried round unleavened flatbreads made of wheat flour and usually stuffed with interesting ingredients like paneer (cottage cheese), potatoes or mixed vegetables. They are then served with accompaniments like curd, pickles and so on. In Delhi, seeing street vendors making paranthe is a common sight. They are made all day long and can be eaten at any time of the day, even as a snack. These paranthe are extremely affordable and you will be surprised at the number of varieties that a vendor can cook for you.
3. Aloo tikki (potato cutlets)
Chuck the diet and go to a street vendor who fries wonderful aloo tikkis to fix your hunger pang. Aloo tikkis are potato cutlets which are fried to golden brown and served with an accompaniment like a chutney or sauce. These potato patties are sometimes mixed with other ingredients like peas or even boiled chickpeas. Street vendors in Delhi serve them in a variety of ways especially since Delhi-ites love their potatoes. These aloo tikkis are sometimes mashed and topped with spices and ingredients like onions and chillies. Otherwise, they can simply be served in a cutlet form along with sauces. When in Delhi, aloo tikkis can easily be found around the city.
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4. Ram ladoo
Ram ladoo is a classic street food easily found in the streets of Delhi. In fact, it is so famous so that every other street vendor can be seen selling freshly fried Ram ladoos. These delicious balls are simply savoury made of a batter of lentils and spices. They are then golden-fried in hot oil and topped with an assortment of ingredients like grated radish, green chutney and a sweet dip. You can easily spot a street vendor selling these as they can be identified by the presence of heaps of fried savoury balls. They are also sold at affordable prices and make for a lovely winter snack.
5. Multani moth kachori (moth bean balls with curry)
Multani moth kachoris are a North Indian speciality that deserves much credit. These kachoris are stuffed moth beans balls and are crusty and crunchy. These kachoris are then dished out onto a plate and topped with deliciously rich lentils known as dal. A sprinkle of rice, some pickled onions and chutney are all added on top. There are a number of street vendors around the city who can help pep up your dull day by providing delicious and fresh Multani moth kachoris. Enjoy a blast of flavours on the roads of Delhi.
6. Falooda (rose syrup dessert)
Falooda is an Indian dessert that has its origins in the Indian subcontinent. There are many versions of this dessert and similar desserts are also seen in Iran and parts of the Middle East. This Indian dessert is made by mixing rose syrup to sweet basil seeds, vermicelli, milk and is then topped with vanilla ice cream. Some versions of this popular street dessert include adding mixed nuts, fruits or other flavours of ice cream. Ideal for one with a sweet tooth, faloodas are absolutely refreshing and a hit among children who enjoy the colourful appearance.
7. Rabri (sweet milk-based dish)
Rabri is a sweet and rich condensed milk-based dessert that is unique to India. It can be found in many sweet shops across the country as well as on the streets. This dessert is made by boiling the milk on low heat till a certain amount of density is reached. Sugar, spices and chopped nuts are then added to this dessert. Usually served chilled, rabri can also be found on the streets on food carts. Delhi is no exception and many Delhi-ites enjoy this dessert during festivals.
8. Aloo poori (deep-fried bread with potato curry)
Aloo Poori is a North Indian delicacy which again can be eaten any time during the day. Many Delhi-ites enjoy the poori aloo for breakfast especially. Pooris are made of plain flour, rolled out and then deep-fried until it puffs up. Aloo is a potato curry dish which is typically served alongside the pooris. As you can imagine, poori aloo is a hot favourite in Delhi too and many food street vendors can be found selling these to hungry customers turn after turn. Old Delhi is perhaps the best place to go to savour some of the city’s best on the streets of Delhi. Alternatively, it can also be found on the national highways if you go off-roading from Delhi.
9. Jalebi (deep-fried Indian sweet)
Jalebis are a national favourite and more so in Delhi. This is a festive dessert which is said to have either originated from India or Iran. Jalebis are made from plain flour which are deep-fried in a circular shape and then soaked in sugar syrup. They are deliciously sweet and a popular traditional street snack which are crunchy, warm and simply irresistible. These jalebis are best enjoyed hot so do have them right in front of the street vendor. You should ideally have it with rabri (discussed above) or plain curd.
A true Delhi-ite will tell you that the city is almost synonymous with a kebab. History has it that the city of Delhi is deeply entrenched connections with the Mughals and North Indian royal families. As such, some of the best kebabs can be found on the streets of this awe-inspiring city. There are many varieties of kebabs, each one presenting itself with a unique flavour. If you are keen on going behind these char-grilled and well-marinated pieces of meat, then head to the streets of Delhi where street vendors can be identified with their long skewers char-grilling meat above burning coal.
11. Golgappe (fried semolina balls)
Golgappe are definitely the national favourite with variations found in each and every state across the country. Golgappes are round, hollow balls known as puris which are then filled with a stuffing of tamarind water, spiced water and potato or lentil mixture. These make for a good snack and are absolutely light on the stomach. Delhi-ites believe that there is nothing better than eating a good and cheap plate of golgappe on the streets with friends while sharing a good laugh. You will be able to find this street snack almost around every corner and cranny of the city. So whenever the craving sets in, you are guaranteed to find a street vendor making them within a short distance of wherever you are in Delhi.
Rolls are very commonly found in the streets of Delhi. Many street vendors serve out quick and delicious tasting rolls filled with various ingredients. Originally, a speciality of Kolkata, India, rolls have now taken Delhi by storm. The wrap-like snacks are suitable even for vegetarians as there are many varieties that Delhi street hawkers have come up with. In fact, it is now pervasively known that there is nothing better than a piping hot roll for a hungry stomach. The dish is basically a wrap made of paranthe with the filling of chicken/mutton/eggs/vegetables, or ingredients of your choice.
13. Chole bhature (puffed deep-fried bread with chickpea curry)
It can safely be said that chole bhature, a deep-fried puffed bread with chickpea curry, is Delhi’s backbone where the street food scene is concerned. This is because of Delhi-ites’ sheer fondness for this delicacy. Chole bhature is the go-to dish for a quick fix on a wintry morning for breakfast, a sinful indulgence for a rainy day or just because one is craving for it! Some of the best chole bhatures in Delhi can be found by the roads. You can look out for street carts, or road-side eateries to indulge in the flavours of this delicious snack.
14. Kulfi (Indian frozen dessert)
Kulfi is an all-time favourite in Delhi and is a frozen dessert with an Indian twist. Kulfis are sold across many street stalls and are available in various colours, shapes and flavours. Unlike regular ice creams, a kulfi is creamier and thicker. Traditional flavours of kulfis that can be found being sold by street vendors are cream, rose, saffron and cardamom. These kulfis are the perfect fix for a hot day in Delhi.
15. Samosa (fried pastry with savoury filling)
In Delhi, every other street food vendor can be seen busy frying samosas to golden perfection. These savoury triangles are the city’s (and even the whole country) most favourite snack and are commonly relished with tea. These snacks are stuffed with a spicy potato mixture. This snack makes for a great party treat as well. Street vendors in Delhi are known to dish out delicious samosas with people flocking to get their hand on one or two as their tea time snack.
16. Dahi bhalle (fried lentil balls in yoghurt)
Dahi bhalle or fried lentil balls which are doused in yoghurt are one of the most favourite and popular snacks in Northern India. Lentil balls are deep-fried and then placed in yoghurt and some sauces. This snack is best served cold and can be found in many street stalls across Delhi. Dahi bhalles are light on the tummy and make for a great quick fix if you are in Delhi.
17. Pakode (savoury fritters)
Pakode are crunchy, savoury fritters which are typical to the Indian subcontinent. They are highly popular across the country, and likewise in Delhi. They are commonly sold by many street vendors in the city and are sold at affordable rates. Delicious pakode are usually eaten as a snack at any time of the day. So, if you feel peckish during a walk, or simply want to try something from a street vendors, then savour some pakode with a hot cup of tea.
18. Lacha tokri (potato basket chaat)
Lacha tokri or potato basket chaat is a highly impressive snack item which will satisfy your palate instantly with one bite. One will get an explosion of flavours and textures as soon as one takes a bite. Typical to Punjab and also Delhi in particular, this is one snack which everyone would love. A very delicious and crispy basket made of potatoes is first made. Then, it is filled with various types of ingredients based on your liking. There are many places around Delhi to try out this dish. One famous place would be in the Karol Bagh area.
19. Gajar ka halwa (carrot-based dessert pudding)
Gajar ka halwa is a carrot-based dessert which is quintessentially Indian. They are served during many festivals and auspicious events throughout the city of Delhi. This halwa is made by adding grated carrots to water, milk and sugar. The mixture is then stirred frequently as it cooks. Finally, a garnish of crushed nuts is added on top. During winter, the carrots used for this dish are deeper red in colour, adding to the vibrant colour of the dish as well. It can easily be bought off a street vendor too. If you are in the city, especially during winter, then gajar ka halwa is a must-try for you. They are also sold at affordable rates.
20. Aloo chaat (Potato snack)
Chaats or snacks are the go-to food for a quick fix and these form a fundamental part of Indian street food. Likewise, aloo chaat, or a potato snack is highly popular in Delhi. Although there are many variations to this snack, in Delhi, the way to go is to spice up good old boiled potatoes after frying them in oil. This carbohydrate-laden snack is easily found in street vendors who constantly dish out piping hot spiced potatoes.
21. Dabeli (sweet-spicy potato burger)
Dabeli is a popular snack item that originates in Gujurat. This is a sweet-spicy snack which is made by combining mashed boiled potatoes with a special blend of powdered spices. The patty is then fried and stuffed between two burger buns known as pavs. Then a concoction of sauces is added between the buns along with pomegranates and roasted peanuts. Although the most authentic dabelis are said to be found in Mandvi, a city in the Kutch region in Gujarat, there are many street vendors in Delhi too who make them really well and at par with its authentic Gujarati version.
22. Nankhatai (Indian shortbread biscuits)
Nankhatai is the Indian version of shortbread biscuits. Native to the Indian subcontinent, nankhatais are particularly popular in Northern India. It is said that these biscuits have a Dutch influence, a result of Indian history of trade with the Netherlands. Indians add an incredible twist to these biscuits and dry them well before selling. These biscuits can easily be found in Delhi being sold on streets or road-side snack shops. Nankhatais go down particularly well with hot tea, making them an ideal tea-time snack.
23. Chana jor garam (roasted flat chickpea snack)
Street food need not always be unhealthy. One such healthy and light street snack is chana jor garam which can be found on the streets of many Indian states. Chana is chickpea which is roasted, flatted into thin discs and then adequately spiced for this snack. Subsequently, toppings like chopped tomatoes, diced onions, spices and a green chutney are added to this. The main ingredients are freshly chopped tomatoes, onion, few spices and green chutney. This snack can easily be found around the streets of Delhi.
24. Chole kulche (plain flour bread with chickpea dip)
This is a classic North Indian item which can be eaten at any time of the day. Delhi-ites, in particular, are fond of this curried chickpea and the plain bread which is grilled on a flat pan. This is a slightly spicy dish which is commonly found throughout the country. In Delhi, one can easily find chole kulche being on the streets on carts or at road-side eateries. If you are looking for something to spice up your tongue, then this is the best option for you.
25. Momos (dumplings)
Momos are the Indian version of dumplings. These unique yet delicious snacks are a hot favourite amongst the young and the old. Even if you are a vegetarian, you will be able to find a vegetarian momo being sold on the streets of India’s capital city. Look out for the stalls with steamers that cook to perfection hot and delectable momos. These momos are then placed on a plate alongside a delicious red chilli garlic sauce. Delhi-ites believe that there is no better snack to satisfy your peckish feeling when you are looking for something not deep-fried.
26. Pav bhaji (bread with a vegetable dip)
Pav Bhaji is simply a concoction of bread (pav) and a vegetable dip (bhaji). A lip-smacking street snack, pav bhaji is the go-to food for anyone looking for a wholesome yet quick bite. A combination of vegetables are cooked with spices and mashed to a paste consistency. It is then served with buttered pavs and sold at reasonable rates. This street snack which is quintessentially from Mumbai has made itself known throughout the country. Likewise, in Delhi, one will be able to find street vendors dishing out a mouth-watering plate of pav bhaji.
27. Bhel puri (puffed rice snack)
Bhel puri, a popular Indian puffed rice snack, also known as chaat can be commonly found throughout the country. Initially originating from the streets of Mumbai, bhel puri is an Indian all-time favourite. A mixture of puffed rice, sev (lentil crisps), tomatoes, potatoes and a combination of chutneys, this snack is appetising yet light on the stomach. Experience the burst of flavours on your tongue with every mouthful. This snack can easily be found anywhere around the streets of Delhi. Just head over to any street vendor and get your plate of bhel puri right away.
28. Besan Chilla (gram flour pancake)
Besan chilla is a protein-rich snack commonly found in the streets of Delhi. This dish is almost like a pancake made primarily of gram flour. There are variations in this dish, of course. Some vendors add extra ingredients like chillies, chopped vegetables or even cheese to make the besan chilla more flavourful. If you are looking for something nutritious yet local, then besan chilla is something you would want to try.
Indulge in Delhi's best street food
It is a must to indulge in some of the best street food that can be found in Delhi. Set off on a food trail and explore the various haunts to get the best gastronomical experiences while in the city.
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