The Best Dishes That You Must Try in DelhiEvery place has its own distinct features those characterize the soul of the city. Food is such a feature on which the whole cultural of a city can get reflected. Delhi, the capital city of India has a mixed culture established by various communities living here together for ages. But the city is mostly influenced by firstly the Mughals and then by Punjabis settled here permanently after the partition. Unsurprisingly, the food in Delhi predominantly is either Punjabi or Mughlai by nature. But most of them are simply heavenly in taste. There are uncountable food items those keep Delhi on the top of any food lover’s dream destination list. Here we present to you the best dishes that you must try when you’re in Delhi!
The Best Food Items of Delhi That You Cannot Give a Miss
The first dish that comes to your mind when talking about foods in Delhi is nothing but the Butter Chicken! It is ubiquitous and completely synonymous with the city which was probably a surprising outcome of an accidental mix and match. It is believed that in the decades of ‘50s, at the kitchen of Moti Matal Restaurant, Daryaganj (already famous for its Tandoori Chicken) a staff accidentally flipped some pieces of tandoori chicken into a sauce made of butter, tomato and some other spices.
That unintentional incident established its place in history, forever! Butter chicken is the most popular non-vegetarian dish still comprises of tender roasted chicken pieces immersed in the red velvety gravy made off tomato puree, ground spices and thick cream, and essentially everything done with lots of melted butter. Butter chicken is one of those Indian iconic dishes those have conquered the world of food, globally!
Street Foods are the biggest attraction and probably the weakest point of Delhiites! They are the best in India! And street foods in Delhi mean Chaat! From Gol Gappa to Papdi Chaat, from Dahi Bhalle to Aloo Tikki to fruit chaat- there is seriously no boundary for Delhi’s chaat cravings. You just cannot say no to the old Delhi Chaats especially if they come from Bittu Tikki Wala, Daulat ki Chaat or Lala Babu Chaat Bhandar. They are simply glorious!
Parantha is not just a food in Delhi; it does not just satiate the hunger, it represents the emotions of the maker. Parantha is the most beloved breakfast item for most of the Delhiites, especially during the winter season. A parantha is made by rolling the normal atta dough, but becomes special when it gets stuffed by anything you like and then pan fried in pure ghee! Yes, the stuffing of parantha can be made by anything stored in your refrigerator.
The most delicious variations of paranthas are the aloo (potato) ka parantha, gobi (cauliflower) ka parantha, paneer parantha, mooli (radish) ka parantha etc. and yes, no parantha is ever complete without some generous dollops of butter layered on them. The best accompaniment of any parantha is curd. Oh boy, breakfast was never so yummilicious!
The most loved Delhi foods usually come in pairs. Chole-Bhature must be the numero uno due of the list of the best food-jodis in Delhi. You do not taste anything until you taste Chhole-Bhature. Chhole-Bhature is one of the most enjoyed breakfast items also taken as an evening snack, or just whenever you want! The fluffy Bhatures made of slightly fermented plain flour dough and these are incomplete without their better half-Chhole. Chhole or the Chickpeas are prepared with abundance of onion-tomato puree, ginger-garlic, and all other Indian spice powders including Amchur powder which gives its rich dark colour. A tall glass of chilled Lassi would be a perfect end of a Chhole-Bhature meal.
Another pair that just cannot be separated from Delhi is Matar-Kulcha. This is both a street and a household platter in Delhi. A street vendor selling smoking hot oil fried Kulcha and spicy Matar on a huge brass handi is a very common sight throughout the city’s crowded places. Kulcha is a kind of soft flat bread made of fermented flour and can be prepared both in tawa or tandoor. The spicy matar or the dried white peas curry is the only thing to have with kulchas!
Again, the most loved dal or lentil of Delhi is nothing but the dal makhni. Mostly enjoyed at restaurants these days, dal makhni needs expertise to be cooked at home. The black dal and some rajma create magic of flavours when cooked in proper amount of spices. The extra dollop of melted butter and heavy cream are just the icing on the cake. Any celebration, be it at home or outside, dal makhni is a must in the menu. This iconic Punjabi delicacy is truly a mandatory food while staying in the city.
Paneer is for vegetarian what meat is for non-vegetarians. Though Delhi has its unique fancy for both chicken and mutton, there is a vast population in the city who enjoy vegetarian food. Shahi Paneer is the highest form of food-sophistication for them. This tomato based gravy has an abundance use of cashew paste and heavy cream combined with other spices. Those soft pieces of Paneer floating on the rich gravy take us to a world of flavours.
This pair is probably one of the most comfort foods we can ever have. Rajma-Chawal is a staple at every Punjabi household in Delhi. No other fancy food can ever be compared to a bowlful of home-cooked curried kidney beans and boiled rice. If food soothes the soul, Rajma-Chawal does it best for Delhiites. Pure bliss!
Another staple at almost every household here in Delhi, Kadhi-Chawal is one of those foods come in an unassuming getup but blow your senses with their powerful taste. From the household kitchen to the langars of every Mata ki Chawki, or Kirtan, Kadhi-Chawal is something Delhi can never get over. Kadhi is a pale-yellow coloured gravy made of nothing but just a mixture of curd, water and besan (gram flour) comined with the perfect amount of mild spices. Some small deep fried onion-besan dumplings (pakoda) are added to this gravy which further increases both its taste and uniqueness. Kadhi is served mainly with boiled rice.
Nihari, Paya and Kebabs at Karim’s
Karim is not just a name, it is a legend that Delhi has been carrying with it for years quite proudly. And it is considered a sin for a meat lover doesn’t taste the world famous Nihari, Paya and Kebabs at Karim’s. A lazy walk through the narrow bylanes of old Delhi, the scrumptious smell of the slow cooked spicy Nihari and kebabs can take anyone to the bygone era of the Mughals.
Momo is a food that came from a distant place and then took Delhi by storm. Momo is now undoubtedly one of the most loved snacks in Delhi. Vendors selling hot steamed, fried or even tandoori momos with variety of chutneys at almost every nook and corner of the city are very common sights these days. To the college students or to the office goers, from the intervals of a film to a birthday party-these yummy dumplings have their mighty presence everywhere.
They were born in Kolkata (then Calcutta), but the whole country fell in love with them. Kathi Roll is another street food wonder that never fails to impress anyone. Delhi has its own variants of Kathi Rolls and they taste a little different than their Kolkata counterparts. And it would be a huge miss to not give them a good try. The busy lifestyle of Delhi’s people probably helped making Kathi Roll an overtly popular food item here!
Tandoori Chicken Tikka
Before butter chicken was accidentally created at the kitchen of Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, the restaurant had already created sensation among the Delhi food circle by presenting Tandoori Chikken Tikka. Though tandoori chicken was originated in Punjab much before India got independence, it was Kundan Lal Jaggi and Kundan Lal Gujral, the owners of Moti Mahal who actually popularized Tandoori Chicken Tikka at a vast platform.
From our first PM Jawaharlal Nehru to the US Presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy and so many international figures, Tandoori Chicken Tikka was favourited by all. These tender pieces of spice marinated roasted chicken served with salad and curd chutney are quite unaffordable miss while you’re in Delhi.
A vegetarian meal in Delhi can never be complete without a dish called Malai Kofta. This rich succulent gravy made of onion, tomato and cashew nut paste, curd, spices and thick cream and the vegetable dumplings in the gravy-Malai Kofta is really a royal treat carrying everything good and flavorful in it!
Quintessentially a Delhi delicacy, chaap or the soya chaap is a marvel food popular among both vegetarians and non-vegetarians across the city. Made of soyabeen, these wonderful ingredient can be prepared in both dry and gravy version. It is almost equivalent to a mutton dish and would be a grand miss if not tried at least once!
Samosa is undoubtedly one of the most loved savoury snack items in India. Though all of them look alike, but every region of our country has their own recipes for the filling of samosas. The samosas in Delhi are big in size and robust in flavor! The highly spicy mashed potato-peas filling and the accompanying green chutney make these samosas so HOT!
Giani Ka Halwa
The name says it all! Giani and Delhi is inseparable. So are the Delhiiets and their fondness for Halwa! Be it Gajar or Moong dal or even Urad Dal Halwa- for Delhi, it serves the best!
Vastly popular in the whole country, Kulfi-Falooda has their distinct omnipresence in Delhi. The long sticks of frozen milk embellished with lots of nuts are the must-haves after completing a soulful meal. And if you want to know why Delhi cannot live without Kulfi, take multiple trips to the places serving the most succulent ones. Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwala, BTW, Roshan Kulfi, and Giani’s are the biggest names.
Ice Cream at Giani’s
Delhi swears by Giani’s Ice cream. No word can truly justify the taste of these delectable ice creams. So, you better go and taste them!
Also see: The best street food in Delhi
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