Best 5 street food stalls: New Delhi

Residents of Delhi follow a useful rule when it comes to their pick of street food: It has to be fresh and made hot in front of them.

Locals stand cheek by jowl at street corner eateries, watching and waiting as their jalebis, a pretzel-shaped sweet, are dunked in boiling oil and then soaked in syrup. In a city where food hygiene is a concern, a good rule of thumb is to just follow the crowds.

Let me share with you five of my favourite haunts in this list.

The highest concentration of street food is in old Delhi, where the 17th-century Red Fort complex is located. Lip-smacking snacks are found in its narrow and chaotic lanes.

In other parts of the city, roadside eateries range from hole-in-the wall outfits to large establishments, where the food preparation extends from the kitchen to the street.

Pt. Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan

Address: 34 Paranthewala Gali, Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi
How to get there: Take the metro and alight at Chandni Chowk Metro Station
Opening hours: Open from 9am to 10.30 pm daily
Contact: +91 9811 2631 37

In the late 1960s, there were more than a dozen makers of paranthas – fried flat breads – in this one narrow lane in Delhi, hence the name paranthawala gali, which basically means a lane of parantha sellers. Now only three to four remain, with Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan the oldest, established in 1872.

It is something of an experience to reach the gali, or lane, walking through narrow lanes in the oldest part of Delhi.

But once there, the breads (35 rupees, or $0.72, to 55 rupees) are worth it.

There are a variety of stuffings to choose from: potato, crushed cauliflower, white radish, cashew nut, raisins, crushed badam and banana for the more adventurous.

The paranthas are served with sweet tamarind chutney, mint chutney, chillies, mixed vegetable pickle and potato curry. Be prepared to stand around to eat.

Natraj

Address: 1396, Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi
How to get there: Take the metro and alight at Chandni Chowk Metro Station
Opening hours: Open from 11.30am to 9pm daily
Contact: +91 9811 1674 00

You could almost miss this tiny corner shop if not for the crowds eating off shiny throw-away plates. Natraj is more like a food kiosk selling aloo tikki, a spicy potato cutlet, and dahi bhalla (pictured), a yogurt-based snack.

The golden brown aloo tikki at 35 rupees ($0.72) is served with mint and tamarind chutney for a sweet and sour experience. The surprise is the spicy filling, adding to the burst of flavours.

Its other speciality, the dahi bhalla at 35 rupees($0.72), is perfect for a hot summer afternoon. Fried dumplings are soaked in water to soften them and then dunked in cool fresh yoghurt topped with mint and tamarind chutney.

These two of Delhi’s street food staples at this shop are undoubtedly the best in town.

Bengali Sweet House

Address: 27-33 Bengali Market, New Delhi
How to get there: Exit from Mandi House metro station, and walk down Tansen Marg for 50 metres towards Bengali Market
Opening hours: Open from 7.30am to 11.45 pm daily
Contact: +91 011 2331 1855 or +91 011 2331 9224, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bengali-Sweet-House/159677870753744

As its name suggests, the eatery specialises in a variety of sweetmeats but it also provides some of the best savoury Indian dishes or chaat. This is no place to be if you’re going to count calories.

Enjoy their mouth watering gol-guppas, bhalla pari or aloo tikkis either sitting comfortably inside or standing by the streets just like how the locals do it.

It has been vouched by many for being extremely affordable and hygienic.

Bengali Sweet House, which has been around since 1936, has appeared in numerous Bollywood films.

A-list Hindu actors such as Annu Kapoor and Ayushmann Khurrana have been seen savouring these famous gol-guppas on screen.

Delhi is famous for its chaat, but sweet tooths shouldn’t leave without tasting the gulab jamuns, dumplings made of thickened or reduced milk, soaked in a rose flavored sugar syrup.

Prince Pan House

Address: 29/5 M Block Market, Greater Kailash I, New Delhi
How to get there: The nearest metro station is the Kailash Colony metro station. Upon exiting, walk along Kailash Colony road. Turn right at the roundabout, and walk to the end of Sh. Krishan Lal Nagpal Marg
Opening hours: Open from 9am to 11pm daily
Contact: +91 011 2923 6364

This eatery, in the corner of a popular upscale market in a posh area of South Delhi, is frequented by the city’s well-heeled.

Women carrying designer bags and young college students take a break from shopping to eat at the roadside eatery, which stocks everything from drinks such as spiced lemon juice to spicy fried potatoes and crispy snacks.

But the speciality is the gol gappa at five for 30 rupees ($0.62), a crispy ball made out of wheat and filled with tamarind, chilli, potato, onion, chickpeas and spiced water. Each gol gappa is assembled right in front of the customer and it has to be eaten whole so that the water does not spill out.

Prince Pan House uses only bottled mineral water, so you do not have to worry about the origin of the spiced water.

Also try the sweet paan or betel leaf wrapped around a filling of coconut, fruit and rose petal preserves and various spices (25 rupees to 40 rupees).

Old Famous Jalebi Wala

Address: 1797 Dariba Corner, Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi
How to get there: Take the metro and alight at Chandni Chowk Metro Station. The stall is at the intersection of Dariba Kalan and Chandni Chowk main road
Opening hours: Open from 8am to 10pm daily
Contact: +91 011 2325 6973

This corner shop specialises in only one sweet and yet it has both foreigners and locals coming back for more. The crowd pleaser is the piping hot jalebis, Delhi’s own version of a messy pretzel.

Established in 1884 by Nemchand Jain, the shop has been handed down through five generations and doesn’t seem to be going out of business anytime soon.

The golden-coloured jalebis at 35 rupees ($0.72) for 100g are made of plain white refined flour. They are first deep fried in loops before being generously soaked in sugar syrup.

A bite into a jalebi promises quite the sugar rush.

The sticky fingers are unavoidable but worth it, many have said.