Sunday, October 14, 2012

Exploring by Mouth

I had arranged, that evening, to take part in a Food Adventure tour originating on Chandni Chowk. We had been briefed not to eat anything in preparation, not even breakfast, so I was anticipating a real feast! Originally I had been the only person registered on the trip, but eventually 4 people in total had turned up, all of which had been on the DelhiByCycle tour that morning! Since I had mentioned that I was doing it, I directed a couple of people to the website, clearly this worked!

Ivy, Greg, Randy and I met our guide Vipin outside Haldiram's (a canteen reminding me very much of those in Beijing - d'oh!) and went inside, were interviewed about our life stories (now I know how it feels!) and brought us our first selection of dishes. Each dish was shared between the four of us, with frequent reminders to 'pace ourselves', but we had soon tasted a pastry bowl full of spices and yoghurt and lentils and beansprouts called Raj Kachori,

...some deep-fried snacks (one heart-shaped one with Paneer (cheese) and the other with onions and raisins)

...and a crispy globe which you broke open, filled with potato pieces then brimmed with either salty or sugary water. Yum!

Next we went round the corner for an Afghani roll, and the now familiar routine of recording every dish to SD card, finally giving me the opportunity to use the peculiar 'food mode' of my camera.

An excursion into street food was next, with Ivy purchasing a delicious Mango Lassi in a rough-thrown terracotta cup that you could keep (if it survives the flight home) and us all trying some Jellibi, which is a delicious dish that Sudip introduced to me. It's a batter that is piped in a swirl into hot oil, cooked until it turns bright red, then steeped in syrup until it is completely absorped. I maintain that Indian cuisine does excellent sweet desserts!

We then dived into the back streets of Chandni Chowk where we had been cycling that morning. They certainly looked a lot more inviting in the evening, with lots of small restaurants opening out of no-where. We paid a brief visit to a British house in the middle of all this,

then to a restaurant which had been serving Dosa (stuffed pancakes) for over 6 generations in this same place! They've clearly got the knack and we had a savoury, a chilli and a banana dosa here with all sorts of amazing dips (including caramelised bananas).

Before we entered our next restaurant, we were warned that it did look 'dodgy' but we were promised that we were not going to be slaughtered for our kidneys so I guess it was OK! We went up a narrow, dirty staircase until we emerged in a room that looked very much like it had been on fire at some point. Actually it was stained black from the smoke of a Tandoor oven in the corner. But we had some more delicious Dosa here (Paneer Dosa this time), with a chilli pickle, and some Masala Chai which is probably the only tea I have ever enjoyed enough to finish the glass!


We were now some distance from Chandni Chowk, but Vipin had a trick up his sleeve and found us a couple of rickshaws to take us back up the hill. We were divided equally between those 'who had a good appetite' (the heavy ones) and the rest, so Greg and I shared the heavy persons' rickshaw with a slightly younger and more enthusiastic driver. He stood up on the pedals for us while the older and wiser driver of the other 'shaw admitted defeat and just pushed the other 3 along...


Our final restaurant was where we were allowed to eat as much as we could - we were provided with a selection of currys, including a mutton korma which was nothing like what you would call Korma in the UK (other than it was mild and delicious), sheek kebab (also delicious), a couple of other currys whose name I forget and to eat with this feast, some more of the delicious freshly-baked Rotis.

And of course there was Dessert! This is Kheer, a rice pudding dish that Greg and I (who were sharing) ordered a 2nd, 3rd and 4th in order to get our fill.


The power went out at this point so we were forced to discuss our experiences by phonelight, but still we had had an amazing evening of food discovery we other people who enjoyed the new tastes and textures of Indian food, and with a guide who really knew what he was talking about, with our best interests (ie avoiding Delhi Belly!) at heart.

So we went our separate ways, I took a tuktuk back to my hotel for another arbritrarily-bartered pittance (I've paid between 30 and 200 rupees for journeys of unknown length), and went to bed. Absolutely stuffed.

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1 comment:

  1. Rather you than me I think CJ; stomachs shrink with age I think you'll find....

    Much looking forward to reading your first reflection of Nepal.

    Stay safe.

    Dad XX