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A Round-Up of Delhi’s Best Street Food


Journeywoman, Pamela Timms moved from Edinburgh, Scotland to live in Delhi, India. She is a food writer, blogger and cook. Since launching in March 2009, her blog, Eat and Dust has been voted one of India’s top 5 food blogs by Good Housekeeping magazine and was chosen Blog of the Week in The Times of India. We thought Pamela was the perfect person to consult about Delhi's best street food. She writes...

I put together this street food list for the Guardian Newspaper to coincide with the Commonwealth Games. I’m not sure how many athletes or officials managed to get beyond the Games Village canteen to sample Delhi’s incredible street food but for any JourneyWoman intrigued by Delhi’s wonderful street food, these are just a few of my all time favourites.

Best korma: Ashok and Ashok -- If you only eat out once during your stay in Delhi, head for Ashok amd Ashok: the chicken and mutton kormas here have been known to make grown men crumple. As well as boasting an edgy gangster heritage, A&A make chicken korma every day, mutton korma on Wednesday and Saturday (invariably sold out an hour after opening at 1pm) and biryani. The meat just melts, hinting at a magical mystery masala (apparently up to 30 different spices), pistachios, and a devilish pact with the ghee (clarified butter) tin. Go to: 42 Subhas Chowk, Basti Harphool Singh, Sadar Thana Road, Sadar Bazaar, Old Delhi


Best kebabs: Ustad Moinuddin -- For just a few rupees you can eat some of the finest kebabs in Delhi. On Lal Kuan close to where the great Urdu poet Ghalib once lived, you’ll find the beef kebab maker Ustad Moinuddin. As you wait your turn, you’ll have time to watch the master at work, packing soft meat on to skewers, judging the exact cooking time for optimum succulence before tipping them quickly on to plates and into waiting hands. Forget Bukhara; this is the real deal. Go to: Lal Kuan, at the corner with Gali Qasimjan, near Chawri Bazaar metro, Old Delhi


Best kulfi: Kuremal Kulfi -- The Kuremal family have been making kulfi (ice cream) in the old city since 1908. They turn out over 50 varieties, including pomegranate, tamarind, rose and custard apple, and also make a wonderful stuffed kulfi: mango or orange flavours stuffed into fruit skins. Go to: Kucha Pati Ram, off Sitaram Bazaar, near Chawri Bazaar metro, Old Delhi


Best paratha: Kake di Hatti -- Head down to the Old Delhi spice market in Khari Baoli, and once you’ve inhaled the fumes from a thousand sacks of chillies, turn into Church Mission Road and order one of Kake di Hatti’s divine tandoor-fresh paratha's. There are many flavours but favourites include potato, cauliflower and mooli (radish). And don’t miss the faluda (a rose-flavoured creamy vermicelli confection) at Giani’s next door. Go to: Church Mission Road, Khari Baoli, Old Delhi


Best kheer: Bade Mian --Bade Mian's kheer shop (oppposite Badal Beg mosque in Lal Kuan) quite simply sells the finest kheer (cardamom-laced rice pudding) you’re ever likely to taste. I never come home with less than a kilo! Go to: Lal Kuan, near Chawri Bazaar metro, Old Delhi


Best breakfast: Shyam Sweets -- Old Delhi is a wonderful place for breakfast – try the bedmi aloo (deep-fried spiced bread with a spicy potato curry) at Shyam Sweets, about half-way along Chawri Bazaar, on the right if you’re going towards Jama Masjid.


Best sweets: Chaina Ram -- Regularly voted the best sweet shop in Delhi. Try the Karachi halwa, laddoos and other treats cooked in ghee at this Sindhi shop on Chandni Chowk.


Best snacks -- Around the Jama Masjid area, stroll along Matia Mahal (also the home of the famous Karim’s and Al-Jawahar restaurants) and stop at any of the little stalls – it’s almost impossible to eat badly here. One highlight is shahi tukda, labelled by one enthusiast as “bread pudding on steroids”. The kebabs and biryanis in this area are also pretty special.


Best way to get around -- It’s a good idea to hire a cycle rickshaw to get around Old Delhi. I recommend driver Rahul Pal (reach him on +919 871 533849). He speaks perfect English and knows all my favourite haunts.


Culinary habits and an ounce of prevention...

I don’t preach total obsessiveness when it comes to one’s culinary habits in the tropics and developing countries, but I do suggest common sense and some caution, as well as some preparedness. 'Boil it, bottle it, peel it, cook it …. or forget it' still makes a great deal of sense. But let me elaborate.

If you plan to boil your water, just bring it to a rolling boil for a minute or two. Any longer will rob you of your fuel and your water. When it comes to bottled water …buyer beware. Look for that unbroken seal, and don’t patronize that cute boy selling bottles from behind the taco stand. If you are a bit further off the proverbial beaten path, you might want to disinfect your water with products on the market (ask your travel doctor for her/his suggestions), or use one of the many water filters that are available. Beer, wine and carbonated drinks should all be safe, though the ice added to drinks may definitely be suspect. I say, avoid the ice completely.

Food that is cooked is definitely safer than that skewer of mystery meat being offered to you at the bus stop. So by all means, eat in the markets, but eat what is cooked, make that 'well cooked', and cooked in front of your very own eyes. Fruits should not present a problem, just peel them. If you just absolutely crave that Caesar salad, then you really need to soak your romaine in some chlorine, a.k.a. bleach (sodium hypochlorite, 5% - 2 drops per litre).

(Mark Wise is a family doctor and runs The Travel Clinic in Toronto, Canada, He is the author of the book, THE TRAVEL DOCTOR, and is the chairman of the board of Canadian Feed The Children. This is some of his practical advice for avoiding stomach upsets and diarrhea when we are off exploring the world.)

Want to read more about avoiding stomach upsets in India, click here.





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