Studded with famous food stalls, the maze-like alleyways and marketplaces of Old Delhi have been luring foodies for centuries, but there's more to Delhi street food than the jalebi (sweet dough) whorls and puffy parathas (fried bread) of Chandni Chowk.
Street food legends-in-the-making have mushroomed across the capital, especially in South Delhi, where markets are dotted with kerb-side kiosks doling out rich servings of deliciousness. Here is our pick of the tempting street-food treats squirreled away in the southern suburbs.
A plate with crunch at Bombay Bhel Puri
Citizens of South Delhi have been patronizing the small kiosk known as Bombay Bhel Puri in Sundar Nagar Market for decades, and with good reason. A short hop south from Pragati Maidan and Purana Qila on Mathura Road, the food stand run by Bhajan Lal has transplanted Mumbai’s favourite street snacks – bhel puri and sev puri, two sublime variations of spiced noodle salad – to the nation’s capital, winning ample praise from pernickety Punjabi palates. These crunchy delights are a light-on-the-stomach, any time treat and Delhiites are often spotted making a beeline for Bombay Bhel Puri late at night as an extra pick-me-up after dinner. Also on offer is jhal muri (puffed rice) and batata puri (bhel and sev noodles doused in date chutney), the owners’ ode to Kolkata.
Breakfast bonhomie at Baba Nagpal Corner
Residents of Lajpat Nagar, just one flyover across from swanky Defence Colony, rise at the crack of dawn to flock to Baba Nagpal Corner (7/25, Gupta Market, near Amar Colony, Lajpat Nagar IV) for a serving of their famous chole bhatura, subtly spiced chick-pea curry and deep-fried bread stuffed with cottage cheese. Doled out daily while stocks last, this hearty north Indian breakfast staple has been luring people to the road-side stall for decades. Throughout the day, you’ll find droves of school, college, and office-going regulars hankering for their share. Samosas also contribute to Nagpal’s brisk business, especially in the winter months. Expect little by way of ambience; locals love to stock up and move on.
Anytime eating at Khandani Pakore Wala
The perfect pairing for a steaming cup of masala chai (Indian tea), pakoras – vegetables and other fillings, dipped in gram-flour batter and deep fried – are an old Delhi favourite, particularly in the damp months of the monsoon. Those in the know make a beeline for Khandani Pakore Wala (11, Ring Road Market, Sarojini Nagar), a small shop in a market teeming with car mechanics and vendors of vehicle accessories. Subject to season, all manner of Indian vegetables are chopped up, batter-wrapped, and dunked into a cauldron of bubbling oil, delivering the crisp crunch so beloved by Delhiites. Weekends see a rush of eager patrons toting bags of cauliflower, spinach, potato, onion and cottage-cheese pakoras.
Meaty morsels at Qureshi’s Kabab Corner
A famous destination for carnivores, Qureshi’s (E-27, Main Market, South Extension II) sees a great rush in the evenings, as commuters stop in for a home-time treat. Regulars swear by the varied chicken grills as starters, favouring mutton rogan josh or korma as a filling main course. The accompanying chutney is legendary, its rich flavour providing the perfect foil to Qureshi’s aromatic kababs. They’re open through the day from 10.30am to 11pm.
A taste of Tibet at Dolma Aunty Momos
It’s not just shopping bargains that draw the inhabitants of south Delhi to Lajpat Nagar’s bustling Central Market. Tucked away near Ragini Creations in sector 39-B is one of the best spots to sample an authentic taste of Tibet in the form of Dolma Aunty Momos. The same family have been serving up these freshly steamed vegetarian and non-vegetarian dumplings for thirty years, and the quality of the output can be judged by the crowd of customers waiting patiently for a turn. Pocket-friendly prices allow for double helpings if you are in more than just a nibbling mood. Go slow on the fiery chutney though; it leaves searing memories in its wake.
Something to chew on at Prince Paan & Chaat Corner
Once a tiny kiosk vending cigarettes and betel nut in Greater Kailash I's M Block market, Prince Paan (M-29, M Block Market, Greater Kailash I) has blossomed into the capital’s best-loved stop for paan (chewable parcels of betel nut) and chaat (Indian-style salad). Regulars and rookies gather daily for the signature flavoured paans – strawberry, butterscotch, mango – and rounds of gol gappe, tiny hollow puri (fried breads) filled with chutney and a spicy water-based sauce, prepared with purified mineral water. Other street-side favourites include aloo tikki (spiced potato fritters) and Mumbai-style bhel puri.
Year-round sweetness at Charan Singh Kulfi
For nearly a quarter of a century, a bicycle carrier and cramped food van have been peddling cool, fruity goodness every evening at South Extension Main Market. The fruit-flavoured sorbets, kulfi (made from frozen reduced milk) and ice-creams are a great hit with the rush of shoppers, and owner Charan Singh works a special magic in the summer months, when abundantly available melons, mangoes, and chickoos (sapodilla) are transformed into refreshing dollops of heaven. Seek it out at E-20, Main Market, South Extension, Part II.