I hate being in crowded places. But there is something about the narrow streets of erstwhile Shahajahanabad, the capital of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, that I am never able to get over it. And that is mouthwatering delicacies!! The streets in Chandni Chowk, are full of eating joints and you can sense spices everywhere in the air. Each of these joints, claims to be the best and to be a century old. Most of them might be good but not all can be the best.
A big time foodie myself, I have been there many times to try different flavors and spices of Old Delhi. The trials have helped me to lock in my favorites. I have accompanied several of my friends and family to try these favorites, and each one of them loved these. I thought, what better way to capture the excitement and thrill my folks experienced, than a blog about my favorite delicacies at Chandni Chowk! And hence this page on my blog. I am vegetarian and so are all my favorites!
The best way to reach Chandni Chowk is through the Delhi metro (yellow line). Once youare here (11 AM is an ideal time to reach), you can walk/ take a rickshaw to explore the streets. At the Chandni Chowk metro station, take the exit for the Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib. Once you are at the Gurdwara (about 100 m from the station exit), take a right on to the main street of Chandni Chowk. Keep walking another 100 m and enter the Paranthe wali gali and cross it. The road will take a turn towards the right. Keep following it to reach the dead end of the road and our first destination, for having Bedmi and aloo sabzi. A staple breakfast dish of Old Delhi, it is usually over at this shop by 12 Noon. Enjoy the blend of spices in this dish to kick start a spicy day. Make sure you save some appetite for the rest of the day.
Next you can head towards the Natraj Dahi Bhalla shop. You can retrace your path to cross the parathe wali gali and reach the main street. Walk a little ahead on the main street and you will see this shop in a small corner on the opposite site of the road. Take a bite of this Dahi Bhalla and it will dissolve in your mouth instantly. The flavour and the texture of the curd (dahi) goes perfectly with the bhallas. If you are an aloo tikki fan, you can try it here. It’s served with sweet and spicy chutneys and is good but not a part of my favorites.
Till now you have tried a spicy and a sweet dish. To ensure the best mix, now its time for another spicy dish.i.e. Aloo Chaat. After having the Dahi Bhallas, start walking backwards on the main street itself. After about 100 m, you will see the Aloo Chaat shop (Vishan Swarup Chaat Bhandaar) towards your left. It’s not even a covered shop. Its just a blue tin sheet with a window. Ashok Sharma stands on one side and the customers stand on the other side of the sheet along with the server ‘Bharat’. This is by far the best aloo chaat that I have ever tried. You can tell him the level of spice that you prefer (low, medium, high). The spice and the flavor of his chutney, which he has been making for the last few decades, will blow away your mind. Just relish the taste and be lost in it. He serves fruit chaat as well but that’s again not a part of my favorites.
By now you might be feeling a bit thirsty. And now is the perfect time to enjoy the Kaanji Vada, another perfect blend of numerous spices. Just walk back from the aloo chaat shop for another 50 m on the main street. You will see Shyam Kanji House on the same side as the aloo chaat shop and right opposite to a bridal store. The Kanji wada is sold by Dinesh Kumar in a small red tin enclosure towards the bottom of a tea shop. From this tiny space, that can barely accommodate him, he has been serving the traditional, kaanji with hand made dal vadas for years. These vadas are so soft that they will disappear in your mouth in seconds. Feel drenched in this shower of spices.
If you like Daal Biji (a spicy namkeen/ savory snack), I will recommend you to try Kanwarji’s Confectioners. This shop is on the main street of Chandni Chowk, just at the entry of Paranthe walli gali. You can get Dal Biji packed for home, as I am sure that you might be too full by now to try anything else.
If you enjoy visiting historical places, do take a guided tour of Red Fort and offer a prayer at Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. Feel lost in the royal splendid life that Mughals led in this very area a few centuries back.
It’s time to walk back to the metro station and to think about when you want to be here next!
Read more about Monuments to Visit in Delhi