Chowing down in Chandni Chowk (part 1)

One of my favorite things in life is food.  I love to make it, smell it, taste it, touch it, eat it, share it, and take photos of it.  When I travel this is especially important because food is so much a part of the culture, that it can’t be avoided no matter where you’re at.  Indian food has always been one of my favorites ever since I had my first taste of chole so long ago so my time has here has been a gastronomical delight!

Welcome to Chandni Chowk, home of delicious and cheap eats!

Chandni Chowk - Old Delhi

Chandni Chowk – Old Delhi

I’ve heard amazing things about the food in Old Delhi, and in particular in Chandni Chowk, so I made it a point to spend a couple of days there soaking up some local flavors.  I did some homework online, read some articles, and explored the website Food Enthusiasts of Delhi while taking notes.  Before long I had a list of places long enough that I probably wouldn’t be able to finish it one day.  So I spent 2 days finishing it!

Gole Hatti - Chandni Chowk

Gole Hatti – Chandni Chowk

My first stop of the day was Gole Hatti.  It wasn’t at the spot that google maps listed, but I was able to find it by asking the first person I saw who looked like they spend enough time in the area to know a few places.  I mispronounced it, but with a chuckle, the man understood what I said and pointed me in the right direction.

Palak Chole Chawal

Palak Chole Chawal

My first dish of the 2 day long food fest was palak chole chawal.  In English that means spinach, chickpeas, and rice.  The dish was okay, but definitely didn’t live up to the hype that I had read about.  What really stood out to me was the cinnamon and cloves (maybe) that were more prominent masking some of the bitterness of spinach.  It was a unique dish compared to other chole dishes I’ve had, but wasn’t as nice.  At 30 rupees though, I wasn’t hurting too bad.

Kake di Hatti - Chandi Chowk

Kake di Hatti – Chandi Chowk

Just around the corner from Gole Hatti was another legendary Chandni Chowk place, Kake di Hatti.

Paneer stuffed naan at Kake di Hatti

Paneer stuffed naan at Kake di Hatti

This place was well regarded for its stuffed naan.  Mine was stuffed with paneer which is a type of fresh cheese curd used in India, Afghan, and Iranian food.

Cooking naan in a tandoori oven.

Cooking naan in a tandoori oven.

Naan is a type of flat bread cooked in a tandoori clay oven and is found in parts of central and south Asia.  

Fresh naan from Kake di Hatti.

Fresh naan from Kake di Hatti.

I’ve had naan many more times in the west than I have in India and this is the first time I’ve had one with a filling.

Dal makhani from Kake di Hatti.

Dal makhani from Kake di Hatti.

I didn’t want to just eat a piece of bread, so I decided to get a half order of dal makhani as well.  Dal makhani originates from the northwest state of Punjab but after the Indian partition has become a quintessential dish throughout India.  The primary ingredients are urad (whole black lentils) and rajma (red kidney beans) with butter and whole cream.

The taste is of course very rich…

street_food-chandni_chowk-old_delhi-2304

Delicious!

…And very delicious!  

Kake di Hatti absolutely lived up to the hype!  I only wish I had more people so we could have ordered more plates to try.  Alas, with my average of two small meals per day, I was quite full before I even showed up.  If I remember correctly the naan was about 90 rupees and the dal was 60.  150 rupees for this meal was a great value compared to some of the crappy tourist restaurants I’ve been to.  I’ve also heard their curries here are outstanding.  I may take a trip back to find out.

Something sweet in Chandni Chowk

The original Giani's ice cream.

Heaven!

Conveniently located next door from Kake di Hatti is Giani’s ice cream to sooth my sweet tooth.  Giani’s is a chain that is located all over Delhi, but this one I’m told is the place to go for the famous rabri faluda.  It’s another staple of Chandni Chowk.

Giani's Rabri Faluda.

Giani’s Rabri Faluda.

This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen served in a glass, and I was excited to try.  Faluda is a very rich and sweet drink made with vermicelli noodles.  The rabri that is put into the mix is made from boiled milk, cream, sugar, nuts, and cardamom.  It’s an incredible flavor and is an absolute must try.

rabri_faluda-gianis-chandni_chowk-old_delhi-2325

Cheers to Giani’s!

There were more places on my list of must eats, but unfortunately I couldn’t move much after this.  I tried to visit the red fort down the road and just ended up sitting on a curb taking photos with locals who asked me.  So, I had to save both for another day, and thus comes another post.  Stay tuned for part 2 of this epic series of gastronomical delight in the streets of Old Delhi.

And if you have any suggestions for where else I should eat either in Chandni Chowk or elsewhere in Delhi, leave a comment below.  I’ll be in town for a bit longer and I’d be willing to fly back just for another stuffed naan and faluda!

Subscribe via email to make sure you’re kept informed of the amazing places I ate at on day 2!