What makes Delhi Spring so special? The mellow sunshine and cool breeze, the fiery red Palash and other Spring blossoms and...the food! Aah the food! Carts selling gur-patti and til-patti, an assortment of chana and peanuts and desi-popcorn in earthen pots, sell their wares at street corners, market places and Metro stations. Around offices and commercial areas, vendors hawking boiled eggs, sliced and sprinkled with chopped onions and masala do brisk business. So do street-side Chinese joints with their hilariously misspelt menu cards and Hakka noodles that demand that you pull out your handkerchief and blow you nose.
There is samosa, kachori and piping hot paranthas. The wonderful thing about the street food in Delhi is witnessing the change of guard, with every season the current gives way to a few seasonal items. Of course there are the vendors selling chhole kulcha and rajma chawal, a year-round favourite. Chaat and momos never go out of circulation, and kulhad-wali chai and piping hot aloo tikkis need no occasion. But there are a few items that will stick around for a few more weeks, and then quietly disappear with the rising temperatures. Grab them before they're gone!
Shakarkandi ki Chaat
Sweet potatoes are a winter crop and a rich source of potassium, magnesium and Vitamin B. So if you’ve avoided them because of their reputation of being a ‘potato’, it’s time to shed that fear and eat as much of this fibre-rich food as you can. You’ll find the chaatwalas balancing their wares on bamboo tripods in parks, gardens and busy market places. If you spot starfruit among stacks of sweet potato, ask for these super-sour fruits to be added to your steamed sweet potato chaat, it provides a shot of Vitamin C, and a tanginess you’ll savour.
Rs 30 per plate.
Apart from being a popular street food item that is sold at every street corner, a ram laddoo stall is fit to be an art installation—for how skillfully these moong dal (green lentil) pakodis are stacked into a heap. The vendor usually re-fries them before serving, adds a scoop of green chutney and a portion of grated radish tossed with green coriander. The only argument against this delicious snack is the oil used for frying—heating oil repeatedly at high temperatures is ideal condition for the formation of unhealthy trans fats! But if yours is an occasional indulgence, lay those worries to rest and enjoy a plateful of ram laddoo with its vegetable garnish.
Rs 20-25 per plate.
Chhallee or steamed ear of corn, is a variant of the bhutta. Unlike the more popular version that is roasted on hot embers of coal, chhallee is steamed whole. You’ll find the vendors outside malls and metro stations, squatting with a sack of steaming corn, to be peeled and slathered with a generous dose of lime and masala. The American sweet corn has swept the market, and while some bhuttawalas continue to stock the traditional varieties for roasting, chhallee is almost always sweet corn cobs. Don’t miss this warm, juicy delight this February!
Rs 20 per piece.
Once a staple food for Bihar’s farming community, litti chokha has found a place on gourmet menus in Delhi. The best part is that its popularity cuts across classes, from the office-going crowd to the men and women who are constructing these spaces in the National Capital Region's ever changing landscape. Most of the vendors are migrants from Bihar and are creating an exciting street food ecosystem around Delhi Metro stations. Litti chokha offers a full meal, with a rustic appeal that takes you right back to the kitchens of your grandparents. It is a wholesome—litti is wheat flour balls stuffed with protein-rich sattu (chickpea flour) mixed with green chillies. These are roasted on hot embers of coal. Chokha has aubergines and potatoes, mashed and drizzled with mustard oil and green chillies. Before serving you this hearty plate, the litti is flattened with the palm and dunked in ghee. Then comes a dollop of chokha, a sprinkle of chopped onions and a swipe of freshly ground mustard sauce. If you’re not careful with the chillies, the spice will have you panting, but you’ll remember the flavours for a really long time. That’s a promise!
Rs 20 per plate.
Also Read: A Taste of Bihar
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