[New Delhi, India] Delhi loves to eat. The locals are fiercely possessive about their food and feel immensely proud of it.
Not just the capital of India, full of history, art, and culture, Delhi is a destination for food lovers.
The city is unique as the food found here is not just limited to North Indian dishes. Instead, you will see more localised versions of South India, Chinese, and of course Continental in diverse presentations and distinct flavours.
In addition to this, restaurants that serve specialised cuisines like Korean, Parsi, Bihari, Kashmiri and many more can be found in small corners all across the town.
But, Delhi has its favourites – dishes that are cherished by the locals and have either originated in the city or were brought here many moons ago.
They have since then incorporated themselves in the local food culture to the extent that they are now an integral part of Delhi… just as Delhi is an essential part of these dishes.
A dish that Delhi can proudly call its own, Butter Chicken was first made in Moti Mahal, Daryaganj when pieces of chicken were left in a creamy tomato gravy by mistake.
The rest, as they say, is history, and since then Butter Chicken has become a favourite among the non-vegetarian eaters of the city.
While Moti Mahal remains the place to have the ultimate version of the dish, I recently had a delicious Butter Chicken, that I recommend, at Anna Maya in Andaz Hotel near New Delhi International Airport.
The go-to street food, you can eat Chaat in its various avatars off small one-man setups to big corporate restaurants like Haldirams and Bikanerwala.
Gol Gappas, Cheelas, Dahi Bhallas, Aaloo Tikkis, the tastes and textures of these scrumptious bites are mind-blowing and guaranteed to take you on a beautiful and quick culinary journey.
With its origins in Tibet, these steamed and sometimes fried dumplings gained popularity initially among the college-going crowd of the city.
Relatively cheap and available in a variety of fillings, Momos are usually served with a spicy dipping sauce.
While everyone has their favourite Momo stand, the Nagaland and Sikkim booths in Dilli Haat are famous for satiating momo cravings.
Cauliflower, potato, green chilli, spinach, paneer, pakodas are fried snacks that are eagerly consumed especially during the Monsoon (rainy) season along with coriander chutney and Masala Chai.
Khandani Pakode Wala in Sarojini Nagar remains one of the most popular destinations for Pakodas although they are often made at home as well.
Perfect for lunch, Chola Bhaturas are a combination of fluffy, hot, maida flour bread and spicy chickpeas.
One of the selling points of this tasty dish is the puffed-up bhaturas that are always a pleasant sight.
The Chola Bhatura from Sita Ram Diwan Chand in Paharganj has remained a family favourite of mine for decades.
They might have originated in the Middle East and Lucknow in India is known for its Kebabs, but Delhi is not behind when it comes to showering love for these succulent pieces of meat prepared in various fashions.
Karim’s in Old Delhi is as iconic as it gets and their Seekh Kebabs is the one to try.
You can imagine the love Delhi has for food when an entire lane in the old part of the city is named after one of its most cherished foods.
Paranthewali Gali is a street that is as iconic as the stuffed bread that is often eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The trick though is to go empty stomach and make sure you apply a lot of butter on top of the parantha. The paranthas are a heavy meal, deep fried in these parts, but one that satisfies the soul to its very core.
There are lots of options but if you find yourself in the area, eat at Pandit Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan who have been serving paranthas now since the 1870s.
Delhi loves to eat lentils and Daal Makhani (Black Udad Daal) is the noblest of them all.
You are guaranteed to find it on all menus of restaurants that serve North Indian food, however, if it is iconic you want, then look no further than the 18-hour slow cooked Daal that is served at Bukhara.
Make is special but accompanying it with an excellent crispy Naan bread and some Paneer or Chicken Tikka and you have the most popular combination of food that locals love to eat.
Daulat Ki Chaat & Jalebis
We Delhiites have a somewhat troublesome sweet-tooth. No meal is complete without having some meetha (sweet) in the end.
The desserts change with the seasons and winters is when you get some of the best options such as Daulat Ki Chaat, a soft, creamy, airy milk dessert or Jalebis which are spirals of flour fried and then immersed in super sweet syrup giving it an orange-golden tint.
However, if exclusivity is the name of the game, try the signature Daulat Ki Chaat served at Indian Accent at The Lodhi in New Delhi – considered the best restaurant in India.
Some consider it a digestive, others a mouth freshener, Paan is widely eaten by many after a heavy meal.
This small packet consists of betel leaf filled with bits of areca nut, tobacco (optional), herbs, seeds, and other sweet and sour condiments that pack quite the punch.
Often eaten to act as a stimulant, it is available now in somewhat healthier variations, but for someone eating it for the first time, it is bound to be an explosion of flavours they will not forget quickly.
Prince Paan in Greater Kailash is one of the most popular places to have paan in the city and is crowded at all times of the day, especially late evenings and nights.
* Written by DFD’s India Correspondent @tickereatstheworld. Raghav is a travel and food writer who enjoys the thrill of discovering new places and writing about them. When he is not working, he can be found driving around his two kids from one birthday party to another.