Things to do in New Delhi: A Chef’s Tour Food Walk
After five days of feasting over lavish dishes across the Gandhi Circuit in Gujarat, you might expect I’d already be over the moon and blissfully content in my exploration of the culinary culture of India. But no. Because the more I dig my palate into the various staples of Indian cuisine, it nurtures my cravings even more and more. So upon my arrival in New Delhi, the first thing I did was to sign up for A Chef’s Tour in the city. Well, because priorities, priorities — and Indian food is one of the main reasons why I flew to this wonderful country in a heartbeat. So going on a New Delhi Food Tour was a no brainer for me.
The meeting place for A Chef’s Tour was set at the bustling Chandni Chowk. One of oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, India bustling with stalls, ambulant vendors, rickshaws, and whatnots. I was running a bit late because I spent some time dilly-dallying near Jama Masjid, where the sheer street activities both overwhelmed and amazed me to no end. Fortunately, a rickshaw driver noticed me wandering in a state of confusion and called my attention “Want a ride?”. I immediately said, “Can you take me to the Chandi Chowk 5?”. Motioning the customary Indian head bobble, he said “Come, no problem. I’ll take you”. And so my Old Delhi food journey began.
A Chef’s Tour Delhi Experience
The tour started at 12 noon and promised me over 4 hours of navigating through Old Delhi’s maze – hitting some of the tastiest spots with my guide. And yet my experience well and beyond that. True, I did get a taste of the best eats but I also got a taste of their culture, their beliefs, their everyday way of life. It was filling, it was immersive, it was enriching.
As a New Delhi Food Tour, A Chef’s Tour Food Walk took me to at least 10 spots that offered the best of Indian cuisine. Each spot highlighting age-old recipes that have been passed on for generations (one was on its 6th) and loved by people from all over.
A Chef’s Tour Delhi: A Food Walk of Culinary Heritage
As a alighted my rickshaw ride, I was immediately met by my guide, Gejandra or Chintu for short. A quick walk took us to the first stop of our 4 hour gastronomic adventure. Established in 1884, we had a sweet starter at the Jalebi Wala.
For only 50 rupees, get a plateful of piping hot, thick and juicy, freshly made jalebis that the sweet tooth in you will truly love. Jalebis are sweet treats made of flour batter swirled and deep fried to a golden brown and coated with syrup. They are often served as desserts during lunch and dinner. Delicious!
Food Tour Trivia: Did you know that Chandi Chowk is the biggest market in India? With over 3000 stalls and 50000 visitors everyday?
It’s always been a dream to visit a Sikh Temple and see a Free Kitchen in person. And finally, that culinary dream came intro fruituition with A Chef’s Tour Old Delhi. A 5 minute walk from our starting point, Chintu and I arrived at the Guru Durra. A Sikh temple most famous for being the spot where Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded by Mughal King Aurangzeb.
As I took off my footwear, wrapped my head, and washed my feet, I could not help but be amazed by how much people was present. It must have been in the thousands, moving about everywhere like in a constant turnstile.
And then I walked up and entered the temple door. A grand and massive hall filled with devotees seated, praying, singing. All waiting for blessings as they gave reverence to Guru Tech Bahadur’s execution spot. We walked around twice in a circle. Our ears were filled with loud chants, creating sense serenity and peace within.
We then walked up to the next building, to the Free Kitchen. And we were pleasantly welcomed by HUGE casseroles being rolled towards the stove.
The whole free kitchen was busy from end to end. On one side were volunteers kneading flour for the chapatis. In front were those cooking the actual chapatis.
And on the other one, people stirring and pouring food to and from the giant casseroles.
Just outside, were the dishwashers.
And finally inside the dining hall were about a hundred people eating happily seated on the floor. A very small fraction compared to the 5000 who eat at the Free Kitchen every single day. Such an amazing sight it was to see.
6th Generation Parathas at Chadni Chowk
We’ve all heard about family recipes. But have you ever encountered one that’s been passed on for six generations? Well, I have and it was quite a delight.
A parathra is a flatbread that is an amalgamation of the words parat and atta, which literally means layers of cooked dough. It’s basically made of wheat flour, various stuffings (mostly veggies), ghee/butter deep fried to a crisp brown.
We had one with cheese and another one with peas and potato. We then paired them with an assortment of sauces/dips like sweet red sauce, sweet potato, dry potato, green chili etc. It was an exciting medley of sweet, savory, spicy all at the same time. The place was packed to the brim and after tasting their Parathas, I understand why their shop has been a crowd favorite since 1872.
Pani Puri, Mirchi Bava, Kachori Wala
The next hour took me to a maze of streets and alleys filled with colorful shops, busy stalls, and interesting structures. Just as in The Grand Bagwhati, I’ve had the traditional Pani Puri Water Chart.
It’s basically a crispy hollow ball made of wheat that’s filled with spicy potatoes. It’s then topped with a spicy tangy tamarind water infused with mint leaves and black salt. Served cold.
I know the combination sounds a little off but trust me, it’s a very tasty snack. Fun fact, I’ve heard Pani Puris are fancied especially by young Indian women. And probably of mine now too!
After passing the Navgrah (Nine Houses) which are heritage protected, we then wazed around to eat some Mirchivada or Mirchi Bava. It’s a spicy Indian snack made of chili and potato stuffing then served with spicy tomato sauce or tamarind chutney.
It was okay but I enjoyed the Ground Flour Potato Spinach we had from the same shop. It was crunchy, light on the tummy but very tasty.
Next stop on our Old Delhi Food Tour was the famous Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala. A sort of crispy flat pies stuffed with either dal or potatoes served with piping hot Aloo Sabzi. Which is basically a spiced curry sauce made chopped potatoes, salt, and curry leaves. Fantastic!
Arguably the largest spice market in the world, the Gadodiya is what culinary dreams are made of!
Rows upon rows of stalls selling all sorts of spices, dried food, treats, and anything you can think of. Some selling per bag, some selling by the sack. We started walking down the main road filled with the people, rickshaws, cows, and whatnots.
It was crazy, it was busy, it was beautiful.
Not a minute passed by and we reached a large building, filled with spice vendors that eventually wound up to a large rooftop. To be honest, I wasn’t at all excited going up because it was dark and a little messy.
But as soon as I got up, my jaw dropped. A 360 view of the spice market, a lovely Mosque at the back, and a view of New Delhi from afar. Chintu then told me the building is home to almost 200+ vendors of the spice market.
I marveled at the spectacular view for a few minutes while sipping some Masala tea by the gazebo. I felt relaxed. It was a good rest indeed.
Sweet Endings: Lassi, Sweet Milk Curd, Jain Lemon Soda, and Dahi Bhalla
After that lovely detour at the Spice Market, it was finally time for my favorite part of our Old Delhi Food Tour: DESSERT. Before coming to India, I haven’t heard much about any Indian dessert dish. I honestly thought, locals just loved their food spicy, savory, and yes, made of curry. But I was so wrong! Indian cuisine actually had many delicious desserts to boost!
I’ve had four of them at the Chef’s Tour New Delhi and they were just perfect.
I first had the lassi after I ate parathas, a sweet-sour drink similar to a cold yogurt drink.
Followed by the sweet milk curd topped with pistachios and almond (my favorite).
Third came Chintu’s favorite, the famed Jain Lemon Soda. A sort of lemonade with soda and spiced up with actual masala. It had a unique almost weird taste in the beginning, to be honest, but totally refreshing. I can totally see me drinking this again and again during hot summer days.
To end our 4 hour tour, Chintu took me to one of the busiest stalls in Chadni Chowk called Natraj. They sell the famous Dahi Bhalla, a sweet-savory dessert made of fine flour topped with yogurt and black pepper sauce. I don’t know how to describe its taste exactly. Think soft fritters swimming in a paradox of sweet, creamy, and spicy flavors. I was already full then but the Dahi Bhalla was so good, I just had to finish the whole bowl.
A few minutes rest, made my way to the Chandi Chowk train station and finally exchanged goodbyes with Chintu. Four hours of culinary heritage, in the busy streets of Old Delhi. It was overwhelming. Oh what a truly delicious day it was!
About the Guide
I loved how my guide Chintu or Gejandra was just overflowing with historic knowledge. Chintu shared tidbits every now and then that made the tour even more interesting.
He was patient, courteous, and all around pleasant. He would even assist you during chaotic bottlenecks within the market. And even wait for you when you find something nice to buy. And oh, did I mention he can also speak fluent French? Impressive, if I must say!
Travel Tips for A Chef’s Tour Delhi
– The meet up point can be tricky especially if you’re coming elsewhere around the area. Because the place is too huge and you can easily get lost along the way. So the best way to get there is through the metro/subway. Because the meet up point is actually and exit of the subway station.
– Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Do bring your own water bottle and towel, if you must
– Bring loose change for small trinkets you may want to buy along the way.
Overall, I am extra satisfied with my Chef’s Tour New Delhi. And I would definitely recommend it if you need to do an Old Delhi food tour. A solid 5 stars for comprehensiveness, guide knowledge and service, and overall depth of the tour. Thank you Chintu and A Chef’s Tour for this wonderful culinary experience. See you at the next city!
Ready to go an extraordinary food tours led by cooks, chefs, and local foodies? Visit A Chef’s Tour and go on a culinary adventure soon!
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