Delhi – A foodie’s delight

A street vendor seling 'pani puri'
A street vendor seling ‘pani puri’

It’s been two weeks since I got back from our three-week holiday in India and I am having major withdrawal symptoms. Although the trip was far from a holiday – what with the city hopping, long waits at the airport, hours spent in traffic and the mad rush to be someplace all the time. The people, the food, the sounds and the smell – I am missing them all.

Besides meeting friends and family, another priority on such trips is to eat as much of the local fare as possible. From street foods to gourmet food, I had to tuck in as much as possible! The foodie in me was thrilled to see how much Delhi and its neighbouring areas had evolved gastronomically between 2013 and 2014. Hundreds of new places had sprouted across the city, serving local as well as international food. Here are some highlights from the journey my stomach made:

Chole Bhature
Chole Bhature

1) Street foods: Pani puri, bhel puri, jhal muri, chole bhature, garam jalebis

I know the names are baffling and a tad funny but I can assure you, that if you are an Indian or have ever visited the country, these are the foods that will tease your taste buds at every street corner, market and even the food court of malls! Made from ordinary everyday ingredients such as flour, rice, chickpeas, lentils and local spices, I have grown up on these. So it wasn’t surprising that soon after reaching Delhi, I made my way to the nearest market to sample my favourite, pani puri. These are round hollow balls made of flour and filled with spiced water and potato or chickpeas. There is no better way to eat these other than while standing on the street and trying to fit the entire ball in your mouth without breaking it!

My favourite place to eat chole bhature (a combination of spicy chickpeas and fried bread), is at the Bengali Sweets restaurant in South Extension. A favourite with locals, this place is always buzzing with people enjoying a variety of Indian chaats, sweets and snacks.

Stairs leading up to Soda Bottle Opener Wala
Stairs leading up to Soda Bottle Opener Wala

2) Parsi food at Soda Bottle Opener Wala

A fairly new and long awaited entrant in the market, Soda Bottle Opener Wala brings the rich flavours of Parsi and Mumbai street food to Delhi. Parsis, Zoroastrian settlers from Iran, opened Irani cafes (as they are popularly called), all over Mumbai, soon becoming a part of the city’s fabric. But over the years, these cafes have become a dying breed despite the popularity of the food.

As soon as I walked into Soda Bottle Opener Wala, I was transported back to the small Irani cafes of Mumbai. The interiors of the restaurant reflect the old world charm of the original cafes – replete with black and white pictures, glass jars filled with cookies and baked goodies, food being served in aluminium platters and small glasses for the famous Irani chai. I absolutely loved their mutton berry pulao (a meat and rice dish topped), keema pao (mince and special bread) and the extra sweet Irani special chai (tea).

The restaurant has two branches – one in Delhi’s Khan Market and the other in Cyber Hub, Gurgaon.

Wall decor at the restaurant
Wall decor at the restaurant

3) Cyber Hub – one stop foodie paradise

Ever since setting foot in Delhi, all everyone ever asked me was whether I had had a chance to visit Cyber Hub in Gurgaon (a satellite city of Delhi and part of the National Capital Region which houses the majority of corporate offices in the region). Set in the heart of Cyber City, which is home to around 500 corporate offices, Cyber Hub offers employees and visitors more than 40 different dining options, all under one roof. From fast food to fancy fine dining; from cafes to pubs and chic lounges; Cyber Hub has already become the destination of choice when considering eating out options in Delhi and its surrounds.

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