Veg food in Delhi is a myth- my friends told me. But that’s not the scene– no. There is a huge variety of vegetarian food in Delhi and we tried to sample a slice of it during my recent food visit in Delhi. Chandni Chowk is one of the busiest and largest markets in Delhi. In around 17th Century, Nawab Shajahan and his daughter Jahanara designed this market. After its inception, this market has witnessed the rise and fall of many powerful dynasties including the British. But still, somehow it has survived its old-world charm. And here lies Asia’s largest spice market, which is a visual treat by itself. If we have the Kebab lane of Jama Masjid area on one side, on the other side, we have the huge vegetarian spread at the Khari Baoli. And I’ll try to focus on the veg food in Delhi in this post.
Please note, I have traveled mostly by cabs and electronic autos. Hence, for location, I’ll be mentioning only the Google location. You can check it here.
Old famous Jalebiwala in Chandni Chowk
Rule 1: if you find one Jalebi and samosa shop surviving with its full glory for 130+ years, you tend to respect it. This shop was started in 1884 by Late Sh. Lala Nem Chand Jain from Agra’s Hari Ki Garhi village. He came to Delhi with Rs 2 (which he got in dowry) and started this. And the fourth generation of owners is now running it. People say it’s still a secret recipe, that is being used. Mr. Abhishek Jain now is running this shop.
Now for the food. Of course to start with, we ordered for the Jalebis. I must say they were piping hot, crunchy outside and soft inside. the serving is basic- on paper plates. But frankly, if you ask me, the Jalebis didn’t really impress me. I’ve tasted better stuff elsewhere. “We use desi khandsari sugar for preeparing the syrup and Desi ghee for frying and not the usual fare”- I was told. “But I found it just GOOD- to be polite”- my inner argumentative Bengali murmured. Somebofy heard me somewhere and the next item bowled me over. It was Matar Ki Samosa. Imagine a samosa with no potato, but full of a spicy pea. Again fried in ghee, it saved the shop. Once I go back, I’ll go for this only and Jalebi will be my second preference.
Around 5 minutes from the Old Famous Jalebiwala, there lies China Ram- arguable the best sweet shop in Delhi. In 1901, while Pablo Picaso was having his first exhibition, in Lahore, Pakistan, a small insignificant shop was opened named Chaina Ram. After the independence, they’ve moved to Delhi near the Fatehpur Mandir and arguably, they serve some of the best sindhi sweets in Delhi. “First order for their Karachi Halwa and then Sohan Halwa”, I was strictly told. And who am I to object? Now, Karachi Halwa is a sweet dish with a gelatinous texture and is made by just ghee, sugar and flour/ suji. Topped with sliced dry fruits, I must say, this was the best dessert I’ve tasted that morning. The Sohan Halwa was also a killer, and I actually saved it to carry back home.
Gole Di Hatti
We took a right turn from Chaina Ram and it was a 5 minutes walk. We had reached. Now, once I was looking for veg food in Delhi, I couldn’t miss this place. This place is supposed to come out with one of the best Chole Bature in Delhi, I was told. But the “claim-to-fame” for this joint came not for this dish, but for a simple dish- Palak Chole Chawal. Basically, its Palak Chole (spicy chickpea curry cooked with spinach) poured on rice. Simple as it sounds, I’ve found the simple dishes to be more complex and rare. Nowadays, we hardly come across a place where we get to eat food directly from patila to plate. Somehow it’s finished on a frying pan and with the change of cook, the taste varies. But it’s not the case here.
The Palak chawal had an undertone of Black Pepper and paired with the freshness of spinach, it took the gravy to a different level. Chole Bature looked fierce but was actually subtle. The gravy was smooth, onions were bhunaoed properly and Batura was good.
But how could I forget the Dahi Vada? Please don’t smirk. I know Dahi Vada is a simple dish., But masters present a simple dish in a special way. The Vada had some crushed black pepper. So when I took them inside my mouth, that peeper came with the taste of the thick curd and it was pure heaven. I actually ordered for 2 portions for myself. Did I mention that the interior is rustic and service super fast ?
Don’t kill me, but this place actually doesn’t have a name. It’s situated just adjacent to Giani Di Hatti and Kake Di Hatti (famous for Amritsari food). And that’s probably the landmark.
While I was getting seduced by the soya Champ at the nearby shop, my friend and guide Anirban Bora, scolded me and took me back to my senses. He ordered Malai Lassi from the shop. and boy, it was pure lust. Rabri was blended with super thick curd, served in an earthen Kulhar (not that it really mattered) and topped with a piece of malai. A lassi like that can make a man forget his life problems for some time, at least for a man like myself.
Giani Di Hatti
I was full, but couldn’t leave the place without sampling some Rabri Falooda from Giani’s Di Hatti. Giani Gurucharan Singh migrated from Pakistan to Delhi in 1951 and started this shop. And his specialty was Rabri Falooda. We ordered just that. In a thick heavy glass, 50% faluda was topped with 50% rabri and the whole thing was getting missed by a vigorous spoon movement, before getting served. The place is pre-paid. You have to pay at the counter and the bill has to be handed over to the server. “Not bad”, I said.
The persons managing the counter didn’t believe really in client service, but their culinary skills made up for it. I was told they make some heavenly Dal Ki Halwa and Gajar Ki Halwa, but we were too full for it.
We were seriously full for the day and were unable to take more food. I am sure there are more places in the Chandni Chowk area for awesome veg food in Delhi, which we couldn’t cover. And with my future visits, this blog post will be updated.