The eating habits of Delhiites in the morning are quite different especially for those who are used to having ‘idli’, ‘dosa’ and ‘idiyappam’ for breakfast. There are many eateries in Delhi that serve ‘samosa’, ‘pakoda’, matti’ and ‘poori’ in the morning. It is interesting to note that the national capital city doesn’t have a distinctive cuisine as many dishes and delicacies converged into Delhi taking different gastronomical routes. Some flavours are centuries old and others are just a few years old.
Old Delhi is a place where history sleeps in every corner. When you talk about Old Delhi, a delectable spread of aromatic non-vegetarian food such as ‘biriyani’, ‘kebab’ and ‘nihari’ (a kind of stew) will flash through your mind. But the narrow streets of Old Delhi have much more to offer. “Different varieties of vegetarian dishes were introduced to Delhi by people who came to the city. But this fact is often forgotten, including the multitude of mouth-watering delicacies that were added to the Delhi platter by Jains and Banias,” says food consultant and Chef Sadaf Hussain.
A cup of piping hot sweet tea and a piece of rusk mostly stir Old Delhi from its deep slumber every morning. And during winter it is a norm to have this combo first thing in the morning. For Delhiites, rusk is ‘papy’ and the humble dry bread comes in different tastes and shapes.
A motley crowd of curious food lovers is a permanent fixture before the modest Ram Swaroop Halwai shop in Sitaram Bazar and everyone will be eagerly waiting to lay hands on a plate of delicious ‘bedmi poori’ ( a deep-fried bread) and Nagori halwa (a sweet).
A 2-minute walk from the Chawri Bazar metro station will take you to the sought-after Ram Swaroop Halwai shop. Your breakfast can be sumptuous as you will get two ‘pooris’, a portion of potato and vegetable curry and carrot pickle for just Rs 20. It is noteworthy that the ‘pooris’ are served on small teak leaves brought from Hyderabad. Your palate will crave for more as the Nagori ‘pooris’, which are made of semolina (rava), filled with the sweet halwa will provide a unique food experience. You can have two ‘nagoris’ and a portion of halwa for just Rs 15.
‘Matti’ is a delicacy that has its roots in Rajasthan and many eateries sell this toothsome dish in Old Delhi. If you want to have one of the best ‘chole’ (white peas curry) and ‘kulcha’ (an Indian flatbread), then head to some of the food outlets near the Chawri Bazar metro station. When you reach north India, you will realize how well dishes can be made of white peas.
The sweet smell of potatoes filled with a blend of different spices being fried will make you drool as you stroll through the congested pathways of Sitaram Bazar. Many people rushing to work usually have this succulent delicacy for breakfast.
The narrow lanes of Old Delhi have something more to offer to gourmets and every nook and cranny of this age-old city has a story to tell about its rich culinary legacy.