More than 16.5 million people travel through Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport every year. Many of these visitors don’t hang around, instead jumping on a bus, trainor taxi to escape the commotion of the capital; but those who do so are missing out on some truly wonderful food.
Delhi is believed to be around 5,000 years old and the city itself has no specific culinary traditions of its own; instead, it is home to an exciting amalgamation of cuisines from all across India. And while it may seem like any other busy capital city on first appearances, look closer and you’ll discover a culinary experience like nowhere else.
When most of us think about the foods of India, we usually think about spices – well, this is something that Delhi does particularly well. Khari Baoli is the largest spice market in the whole of Asia, and has been running in Delhi since the 17th century, attracting both locals and visitors wishing to enjoy the sights and smells.
In fact, Delhi is home to the widest and best quality selection of street food in India, and hawkers and food vendors can be seen early in the morning preparing their wares for the day. For the best chaat (savoury snacks) in town, head to Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi – here you’ll find namkeen-wallahs (vendors selling savoury snack food) andparantha-wallahs (those selling unleavened flatbreads soaked in ghee), as well as halwais, or makers of traditional sweets.
The people of Delhi are passionate about the food they eat, and a number of companies now exist that help locals and visitors to feed their appetites and get a true taste of the city. One such company is Delhi Food Walks, which offers tours around popular foodie destinations in the city including the previously-mentioned Chandni Chowk, Paharganj and Chittaranjan Park. Those taking part in the tour get the chance to meet other food-lovers and share the unique experience with them.
It’s true thatthe food of Delhi incorporates a mix of India’s culinary styles, but the most popular style of cooking enjoyed in the capital is Mughlai. The influence of Mughal rule is still present in Delhi cuisine, with theMughal speciality of tandoor being served throughout the city and kebabs, rotis and tandooris featuring in many homes and restaurants.
As well as restaurants serving up local fare, Delhi also has many quality international restaurants offering delicious food from all over the world, including Thailand, China and even Mexico. These can be quite expensive in comparison with restaurants serving regional Indian cuisine; but wherever you choose to dine – be it international restaurant, Indian restaurant or a street vendor –keep in mind that Delhi is around 1,000 km from the nearest ocean, so meat or veggie options are going to be fresher than those featuring fish or seafood.
Here in the UK, you can sample the finest delicacies of Delhi and the rest of India at one of London’s fine dining Indian restaurants, from street-food-style morsels to thalis and rich, mouth-watering curries.