My personal journey with Old Delhi began in the mid 1990s. My advanced chef training after hotel school was at the ITC Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi, which is also home to the iconic Bukhara restaurant. On the few days we were off work (and not too tired), we would venture into Old Delhi. The first few trips were out of a sense of adventure, getting on our bikes and heading for a food binge.
I still remember our old haunts from those times, many of which continue to thrive on, especially my first sight of the Gali Paranthe Wali in Chandni Chowk – a whole lane dotted with vendors preparing and selling parathas – with its mad maze of electricity wires and cables hovering perilously close to our heads. There was the Sohan halwa from Ghantewala Sweets which unfortunately shut down in 2015 after a whopping 225 years in business and Dahi bhalla (a popular street food snack made of fried flour, potato and chickpeas) at Natraj. I loved watching the cooks at the famous Jalebi Wala with their giant kadhai (wok) and jalebis sizzling in ghee or buying kitchen equipment from the wholesalers at Lal Kuan.
My first gastronomic experience at Karim’s was unforgettable. Winter climes brought us the warmth of delicious treats: Daulat ki chaat (aerated milk custard), Shakarkandi (roasted sweet potato chaat) and piping hot Gajar halwa (carrot fudge). On a side note, I must say I love the misty look that veils Delhi in the winter. I have mentioned a lot of food spots but believe me when I say there is so much more to explore, discover and talk about.