The Time I Ate Nothing but Delhi Street-Food for a Week

While living in Delhi, I got the brilliant idea to take on the persona of a Buzzfeed writer and do one of those “only eat one thing for a week” articles. The idea seemed too fun to pass-up. I thought, what is the food available in Delhi that would make this most entertaining… STREET FOOD!!! And that’s how my idea to eat nothing but Delhi street food for a week was born.

Jalebi
Jalebi

Day one started in the most quintessentially Delhi way possible. I went to my trusted ParathaWala for an egg paratha and chai. The preparation of this dish is quite simple, it consists of a flat bread fried on a griddle with a scrambled egg poured inside a slit in the middle which is then grilled to create a three layer flat bread, scrambled egg, flatbread omelette sandwhich. It’s nothing short of delicious, and of course requires a piping hot cup of chai to accompany. Now, paratha is not always considered street food, since it is often cooked in the house, but when it is accompanied by a dab of butter large enough to coat three slices of bread liberally, and served out of a street stall, then it can easily be considered street food. Lunch progressed nicely as well, with momos and chili-garlic-chicken-chowmin. The mere thought of which is enough to make my mouth water. I think this chowmin might honestly contain an entire head of garlic in each half plate. Dinner was also excellent, although light, and consisted of baingan pakora, eggplant battered and fried, from one of the two pakora stands in my neighborhood. I accompanied dinner with a trip to my local arcade and played a couple rounds of Tekken.

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Chili Garlic Chicken Chowmin

The next day, I woke up and headed towards the other pakora stand in my neighborhood, and got aloo pakora, battered fried potato, and chai. Aloo pakora is one of the more standard pakoras, along with bread pakora, which is simply white bread sliced, battered, and fried. Luckily I arrived early enough to watch the aloo pakora as it was retrieved hot and fresh out of the bubbling oil it was fried in. By now I was already starting to feel the effects of four straight oil laden meals, little did I know what was in store the rest of the week. Later in the day, I had to take my moped for servicing, and while I was waiting for my oil change, I stopped into the local rajma kulcha stand down the block from the garage. Rajma is a standard kidney bean and masala dish and kulcha is a close relative of better-known naan. This meal was probably my most complete of the entire week, and would have been low oil had it not been for the ice cube sized chunk of butter skating across the top of my stack of kulchas. It was worth it. Dinner was chole with chopped aloo simmered in a spicy sauce with pooris on the side basically chickpeas, potato, and fried flat bread. It was good. To round off a good second day I treated myself to Jalebi, my old favorite sweet. I like to describe jalebis as mini crispy funnel cakes soaked in syrup. When they’re fresh, biting into one releases still-hot ghee from the center of the fried funnel cakes, which mixes with the overly sweet syrup to create the most delicious dessert experience available this side of the Yamuna.

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Egg Paratha

On day three I decided to play it safe for breakfast and got a bread omelette, which is exactly what it sounds like. Nothing special there. Then for lunch, I went back to the Chinese food stand where I had eaten chowmin earlier in the week and got their chili potato. I washed it down with a juice box of Maaza mango juice. The chili potato was soaked in a mixture of red chili sauce and oil, and plenty of MSG. Day three dinner was Maggi, which is India’s top ramen, and a bread roll with butter, which I split with a friend. This was the first time I started to wish I could have normal food at home again, and it was mostly because the Maggi was a little overdone and soggy.

 

After my meal of Maggi, my resolve weakened and all I could think about was waking up the next morning and eating breakfast at home. The next morning I woke up and had a bowl of granola, and thus ended my admittedly short-lived week eating nothing but Delhi street food. The lesson I learned is that soggy Maggi can break the soul of even the most determined eaters.

Owen Sanders Jollie began studying Hindi during his freshman year of college at Emory University. Since then, his interest in India has expanded to include Urdu poetry, Indian politics, and U.S.-India relations. Owen comes to the fellowship from the Center for Strategic and International Studies where he was a researcher with the Wadhwani Chair for U.S.-India Policy Studies. Owen's most recent trip to India was this past summer, when he spent two months in Lucknow studying Urdu at the American Institute of Indian Studies. He plans to continue learning both Hindi and Urdu and to expand his understanding of Indian politics with a focus on the development of corporate social responsibility. Owen grew up in Seattle, Washington and is an avid baseball fan.

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2 thoughts on “The Time I Ate Nothing but Delhi Street-Food for a Week

  1. When you eat at a road side eatery, do take a minute to see the number of people present there! Take a quick look at the type of vehicles around! It is a definite indicator of the cleanliness and hygene of food served! I eat at road side eateries on the highways all the time in India, but am careful with where I stop

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