I came across the night food tour of Chandni Chowk by Seek Sherpa on bookmyshow and really wanted to go for it. But as soon as KC heard ‘beef’ he was turned off. In his own words “I do not like to experiment with food”. Give him thalieepth, vada pao, sabudana khichdi, Mumbai pao bhaji and food cooked by his mom and he is truly happy. Very much unlike me. I will draw the line at seafood because my first experience with seafood (except fish which was part of my staple diet having spent growing years at Saurashtra- coastal area of Gujarat) was squid which is extremely unappetising. But anything else (except creepy crawlies) I am willing to try once. And I have eaten beef in school and it was not bad. Of course, my parents will get a heart attack if they hear about my beef expedition.
I was wary about going alone on a trip to Chandni Chowk with a stranger since it is Delhi and all. Not that I would take such a risk in any other city… no, not even Mumbai. I decided to figure it out after my experience of Seek Sherpa at Humayun’s tomb. As luck would have it, Akshay Williams- the Sherpa for the food tour, had come to Humayun’s tomb to take our email addresses and photograph. Now that I knew who was the guide it didn’t seem like a strange proposition at all. I asked KD and she was in. And then yesterday KC also decided to come along even though he didn’t want to eat anything.
The drive from Gurgaon to Darya ganj was torture because there was a lot of traffic. C’mon people- it’s a weekend. Stay home… relax… sleep… leave the roads empty.
*Don’t mind the bad pics. It was dark, crowded and all we wanted to do was eat. So clicking pics was an effort*
We started at 8 pm from outside Moti Mahal restaurant. This is the place where butter chicken was invented. Not making this up. Akshay told us this and I read it today in Vir Sanghvi’s article in HT Brunch.
Stop 1: Natraj Bhalle
Cost : Rs 50 per plate
The dahi bhalle at Natraj are supposed to be the best. I found them ok because I have grown up eating ghar wale dahi bhalle. But this was KC’s favourite dish. I could finish only half of it and decided to have small quantities so I could taste all the dishes. And that was my strategy for next 3 hours.
Stop 2 : Tandoori chicken
Cost : Rs 80 per plate
I have never eaten this kind of tandoori chicken. We knew it would have loads of butter and all. While they were roasting it I thought now they will just drop a little butter over it. Nope. What they did was dunk the chicken into melted butter, add curd, add some masala, mix it and serve. The yellow fluid in the pic is butter. So yum.
Stop 3 : Gond ka halwa
The one on the left is gond ka halwa. Am not sure what the one on right is. We ordered gajar ka halwa but that is not what it looks like.
Stop 4 : Beef kebabs
Rs 40 for 3 kebabs
We had beef kebab and dhaage wale kebabs. I don’t have pics of the latter because it was crowded and we just wanted to eat the kebab. I thought the beef kebab was good till I had the dhaage wale ones. These kebabs have threads strung into them which have to be pulled out before eating and are made from minced beef. Oh so yummy. One of my favourite dishes of the night.
Stop 4 : Shahi Tukda
Rs 25 per plate
This was my next favourite dish. I just had bites from KC and KD’s plates and wish I had taken one for myself too. I am not a mithai person at all but loved this.
Stop 5 : Chicken fry at Darya Ganj near Jahangeer
Cost : Rs 100 for 1 plate with rumaali roti
The chicken is like the one at KFC except with Indian masala which is so much better. We had it with rumaali roti, onions, spicy chutney and grated radish. Loved it.
All in all, a great tour. It cost us 600 bucks which includes transport and a dessert.
The thing about Chandni Chowk is that there are many good food places but you need a local to help find them. It’s impossible to traverse the crowded lanes on your own and search. Most of the places we visited were hole in the walls. I don’t even know their names. And there is, of course no seating. If you are finicky about hygiene, food quality etc this is definitely not for you. But if you miss street food this is a must visit. Akshay Williams lives around in Old Delhi and has grown up here. So he knows which are the best places to go to. Everyone goes to Karims and Moti Mahal but these are gems that only the locals know.
We got a lot of looks but I was oblivious to them. The unique part was that the area was crowded and bustling even at 11 pm. So different from the regular Delhi streets. And yes, there were enough women outdoors at that hour.
I guess, you never really know a city till you have visited the old areas. And you are definitely not a local if you haven’t visited the old areas.
We also stopped at Mirza Ghalib’s haveli which is closed after 6 pm but the caretaker was kind enough to let us have a look.
Now this man had the perfect life- forever drunk, writing poetry, sooo many havelis at Meerut/Delhi/Agra/Moradabad, a dutiful wife who never nagged/complained and many girlfriends.
Amen to that.