DELHI STREET FOOD TOUR – WHAT TO EXPECT

EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR NEXT STREET FOOD TOUR IN OLD DELHI

One of our biggest highlights of every trip we embark on is the food! And, the food in India is famous worldwide for the curries, breads, and all manner of spicy deliciousness. The moment we landed in Delhi, we knew that we needed to sample the best of the best that this huge city has to offer, immediately.

Most India itineraries don’t include Delhi, because there is so much to do and see elsewhere in this vast country. However, if you’re like us and have a couple of days to spare in this enormous city, one of the most recommended things to do here is a street food tour

The street food in India – and Delhi in particular – is so varied and incredible that it deserves days upon days of exploration to see and taste it all. The main area for food exploration is Old Delhi. In particular, the area of Chandni Chowk. This area is known as one of the biggest bazaars in the city, and for it’s hundreds upon hundreds of traders, merchants and street food vendors. Some of the best street food this city has to offer can be found here, amongst the narrow alleyways, silver merchants and wild monkeys. 

GUIDED OR NOT GUIDED?

For many, this area of town (and Old Delhi in general) can be an overwhelming experience. Therefore, a paid, guided tour can be a sensible option for anyone slightly nervous or apprehensive about walking the alleys by themselves. Another of the main motivations for joining a guided street food tour can be because of the fear that many have about the cleanliness, hygiene and safety of the food itself. Joining an established tour can put these worries at rest, as most of the vendors will be carefully selected by the guides for their safety and hygiene.

We decided to join an Old Delhi Street Food Tour on our first day in Delhi. The company we chose to do this with was “Reality Tours and Travel” (we were not paid or given anything for free in order to write about our experience), and the tour took us to 6 different food vendors over a 3 hour period, costing us just $20 each.

If partaking in a street food tour yourself, don’t forget a few simple things. Make sure to bring wet wipes, hand santiser and toilet paper (whilst in India, never go anywhere without toilet paper) along with you, and most importantly, make sure you go hungry.

So, about the food.

From the moment we walked out of the metro station and onto the wet, muddy street of Chadni Chowk, the sights, sounds and smells overwhelmed us completely. There is so much going on in this bustling heart of Old Delhi, that it’s impossible to know where to look at any given moment. 

We walked briskly because of the hammering rain. We ran through deep puddles of mud, dodging brightly coloured tuktuks and coat wearing street dogs, to reach our first stop of the street food tour: Jalebi Wala

Jalebi Wala specialises in two things: Jalebi and Samosa. We are here to try the former.

JALEBI


Fun fact: After trying a jalebi for the first time on our Delhi street food tour, Danielle could no longer walk past any jalebi vendor in the city without buying one. This turned into a full blown jalebi addiction. You have been warned.

old famous jalebi wala old delhi
Hot, fresh Jalebi from Old Famous Jalebi Wala in Old Delhi.

Looking a lot like a translucent, deep fried pretzel or swirl, this sweet snack is one of India’s best sweet treats. Essentially, this delightfully sickly snack is a deep fried (in ghee – not oil) dough, that is then soaked in a sugar syrup and rose water combination. This creates a wonderfully balanced fatty, sugary, warm doughnut-like swirl of incredible-ness. It’s like all the best parts of a doughnut, packed into one small treat. Best served fresh and warm, this mouth-watering snack is guaranteed to make you want more (and more, and more…).

Our stop at Jalebi Wala was the first time either of us had tried Jalebi. Danielle claimed it to be the best thing she had ever eaten. Having allegedly been around since the late 1800’s, this small stall is one of the best places in all of Delhi to try the snack. Costing just 500rs per kg, one jalebi can be had for less than 50rs (<$1).

jalebi wala old dehli
Jalebi Wala store front.

Note: other vendors across the city will charge as little as 100rs per kg, making Danielle’s jalebi addiction an affordable one at just 10rs (13 cents) per jalebi.

WARNING: Please do embrace the hot, sugary syrup that resides inside the jalebi (and makes it taste so wonderful), HOWEVER, you WILL spill it all down yourself (and in your hair, if you’re anything like Danielle) every single time you eat one. Again, you have been warned.

VEGETARIAN ‘KEBAB’


Disclaimer: After much thought about whether or not to put this entry into this post, I have decided to do so purely for the comedic value. This ‘kebab’ doesn’t come recommended, and was only inserted into our itinerary as a quick, impromptu vegetarian alternative to the fried chicken that was originally planned for the tour. It wasn’t particularly great, and even our guide Kavita only enjoyed the onion side that came with it. Anyway, here it is.

After eating the most delicious thing Danielle has ever eaten (jalebi), our guide Kavita took the four of us (a couple from the Netherlands are also on the tour with us, making the group total four) back through the crowded, narrow street and into a small vegetarian kebab shop, about a 5 minute walk away.

Everyone’s hopes are high at this point – we’ve just eaten the most delicious sugary snack known to mankind – things are about to get even better, right? Wrong.

We take a seat at the back of the small shop, and Kavita runs off to order something from the Chinese owner. 

delhi street food tour
“Vegetarian kebab” in Old Delhi.

The dish arrives. Disappointed looks are shared across the table. I bravely offer to take the first piece of what can only be described visually as something that closely resembles human excrement. I place the smallest piece I can find into my mouth, and nervously everyone watches me with great anticipation. My face gives nothing away. I leave everyone hanging in great suspense. After a long pause, Danielle asks: “how is it?”

Honestly, it really wasn’t that bad. But, it really wasn’t great either. It didn’t really taste of anything at all, and it was just too spicy (and too burnt) for me to enjoy (and the appearance really did put us all off). Even our guide, Kavita, openly admits that she only enjoyed the spicy, pickled onions that accompanied the ‘kebab’. Not something that we will be ordering again then.

After polishing off the plate of food (begrudgingly), and back to reality, we pick up our things and head off to our next stop on the culinary rollercoaster of Old Delhi: Aloo Chat.

ALOO CHAT


As we make our way back out into the rainy streets, we’re all a little unsure of what to expect next. Having gone from something so delicious, to something not so delicious, we’re all a little apprehensive about what we’re going to have the pleasure of eating next on our Delhi street food tour. Luckily for us, it’s quite delightful.

aloo chaat old delhi
Frying potatoes for Aloo Chaat in Old Delhi.

Kavita informs us that Aloo Chat literally translates to small potato. Aloo = potato, chat = small/little. So, when we round the corner to see a small, busy stall with potato chunks frying in a giant wok, we’re not surprised that it’s our next stop.

Kavita orders us a bowl as we take a few snaps of the guy behind the enormous frying pan. He takes a generous portion of the fried potatoes, places them into a large bowl, and pours a pasty concoction of spices over them. He then sticks a few cocktail sticks into them, and hands it over. Voila!

We’re all a little hesitant to try this after our last snack stop, so I (again) bravely volunteer to take the first bite (how bad can a fried, spicy potato be?). Thankfully, it’s very tasty

A perfect balance of sweet, sour/tangy, spicy and greasy, this potato snack gets more and more flavourful as we get further down the bowl. With hints of sharp lemon and chilli, the spicy paste that was poured over them has pooled at the bottom of the bowl, making the last few bites incredible.

delhi street food tour
The street food vendor preparing our aloo chaat.

With our faith restored in the street food of Delhi, we finish the bowl and turn to Kavita. She tells us that our next stop is going to be: Natraj Dahi Bhalla. Excited, we follow her once again through the busy, narrow streets.

DAHI BHALLA


Described by our guide as ‘deep fried lentil balls’, this particular Indian street food was not really to either of our personal tastes (Danielle went as far as saying it was ‘disgusting’, however I was indifferent to it). 

These deep fried balls are made of ground lentils and spices, and served in both a yoghurt sauce, and a pomegranate sauce. It is a strangely satisfying blend of both salty, sweet and spicy. The sweet pomegranate sauce is flavoured with spices and fresh, red chilly.

Served in a small bowl with a wooden spoon, this snack is both hot and cold (Danielle said it was a little bit like eating a hot apple pie and ice cream – only the apple pie was a deep fried lentil ball, and the ice cream was plain yoghurt…), which makes for a strange experience. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting. Danielle put down her spoon after just one mouthful. I may have eaten two thirds of the bowl before calling it quits.

Our next Delhi street food successfully restored our faith entirely in Indian street food: Chole Bhature.

CHOLE BHATURE


After the lentil balls, Kavita hails a tuktuk from the busy street corner, and we all jump in. On the 10 minute ride, she tells us what we are about to eat. All of us are apprehensive. She explains that Chole translates to chickpea, and that we are going to be eating a chickpea curry served with a round, puffed fried bread. She also promises that we will like this one.

More of a quick restaurant meal than street food, this meal is our favourite of the entire tour (and remains one of our all time favourite Indian meals to order for breakfast/lunch/dinner). We arrive at the counter of Gianis and Kavita orders us each a half plate – one small portion of chickpea curry and one piece of puffed bread. This place only serves Chole Bhature

chole bhature gianis old delhi street food tour
Our favourite meal of the tour: chole bhature at Gianis in Old Delhi.

Our food arrives and we all jump in. Kavita tells us how the bread is made: a flour and baking soda dough is stuffed with crumbled cheese and then deep fried. The chickpeas are made brown by soaking them in black tea overnight.

We all have a mouthful, and look at across at each other, pleasantly surprised. Danielle even says ‘yum’ out loud. Finally, we have found something (almost) as delicious as jalebi! We quickly finish the food and tell Kavita how much we enjoyed that one.

INDIAN SWEETS


Another short rickshaw ride away is the final stop on our Delhi street food tour. After 10 minutes of riding through the flooded, bumpy alleys, we arrive at a small sweet shop.

The staff are just setting up for the days trade at 3pm, pulling out counters, tables and chairs for customers to sit on. We are the first customers of the day.

Kavita asks us what we want. Unsure, we simply answer: “anything”. 

We patiently wait, out of the way of the busy staff. Kavita then comes over with an array of different sweets, and we try them all.


Kheer – Indian rice pudding, served in a small, orange clay pot.

Rasgulla – dumplings of cottage cheese and semolina dough, soaked in a very sweet sugar syrup. (Danielle hated this one so much, so actually had to spit it out after taking a bite!)

Barfi – condensed milk mixed with sugar, and typically enhanced with fruit or nuts like: mango, coconut, almonds or cashews. There are many different varieties in this shop, all of them very different in colour and appearance.

Kaju Katli – a small, diamond shaped sweet. Tastes and looks a little like marzipan, but is made from cashew nuts. Usually has a shiny, silver film on the top.


Danielle didn’t like ANY of the sweets. I wasn’t offended by any of them, but wouldn’t go out of my way to order any again. Of all of them, my favourite was definitely the kheer.

IS IT WORTH IT?


For $20, yes. 

If we were to have spent more money on the tour, I think we would have been a little disappointed. There were a lot of expensive Delhi street food tours we could have chosen to go on, but we were being budget conscious when we made our decision. This may have impacted the overall quality of the tour, but in our opinions, there is only so much you can reasonably pay to have a local take you around Old Delhi to try street food.

Having said that, we did really enjoy ourselves! We thought it was a genuinely good way to spend a few hours of the afternoon. If we were to have gone on our own street food adventure, we may not have chosen the foods that we were given, but we probably would have given a few more than 6 a try. 

In summary, we would recommend a Delhi street food tour, and think that it is worth it.

OUR PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR


LAPTOP – Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch

SMALL CAMERA – Olympus OMD- E-M10 Mark II

ZOOM LENS – Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm Lens

DSLR BODY – Canon 60D

WIDE ANGLE LENS – Sigma 10-20mm Lens

DRONE – DJI Mavic Pro

ACTION CAMERA – GoPro Hero 7 Black Edition

MICROPHONE – Rode VideoMicro

CAMERA BAG – Lowepro Fastpack 250 AW II

For more food related content, check out our top foods to enjoy in neighbouring Nepal. Also see our favourite places to eat and drink in Pokhara, Nepal!

Brenna & Danielle

About Us


We are Brenna & Danielle, two travel bloggers and photographers from England. 
After quitting our jobs in 2017, we backpacked and travelled to over 3 continents, and 20 countries together. We aim to inspire, through our honest and detailed travel guides and advice.
This blog exists to serve as an in-depth guide to many destinations across the globe, but also to inspire travel and adventure in all those that peruse these pages.

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