You know one of the delights of vacationing for me and my husband is in eating local food. And we like most cuisines, so it is hardly a challenge for us to try something new except that we don’t eat many kinds of meats. So this time, when we planned a trip to North India, Punjabi food and North Indian cuisine was high on our priority list. Amritsari kulche, Dal makhani, Pindi Chane, Rajma, aloo gobhi, lassi and chat were on our must-eat list.
I had told myself that I will not crib about street food and will keep my eyes closed to the filth that normally surrounds these roadside stalls.
First stop was Delhi. And this time I wanted to visit the famed Chandni Chowk especially Parathewali Gali that has so much history associated with it. Though I was prepared for it, the heat, dust and filth completely threw me off. I tried my best to shut my eyes to the smelly gutters right next to the tiny shops each one churning out deep-fried parathas at frightening frequency. The place was congested and crowded. We joined the queue awaiting our turn. The kids had a hard time understanding how we were going to eat there. But we had to ask them to make do this one time. Finally our turn came and out came the thalis with an assortment of curries, chutney and pickle. The parathas were okay in taste but who eats deep-fried parathas? I am used to parathas roasted on tawa. While I was eating, I saw a foreigner of Asian origin attacking the parathas with gusto. I felt like rushing and falling at his feet. How was he going to counter the ensuing diarrhea was a question at the top of my mind while I worried about my own tummy and prayed to all possible Gods to keep me healthy, as it was the start of my vacation. We rounded off the meal with lassi which tasted refreshing in the heat.
Now, we headed out to a dahi bhalle stall (dahi vade as I call them). The dahi bhallas were again decent in taste. The dahi having a tinge of sourness that I disliked. But the tikki chat that we had next was completely delicious. This was the hole-in-the-wall place that was churning these delicacies. We had to stand on the narrow road with milling crowds and traffic all around. My younger son was regularly getting pushed around and was ready to use his Ninja maneuvers on the offenders, but the offenders were too quick for him.
Stuffed to the gills, we had no space left in the tummy to try out hot jalebis or the other chaat fare on offer. We did, however, manage to pick up dry ber as well as mulberries that I had after a really long time. All these are favorites from my childhood. By the time we decided to head back it was early evening.
After this tryst with street food, we settled for some fantastic Punjabi food in an upscale restaurant in Connaught Place next day with a bunch of friends. This was the first time I was meeting my good friends from the blogworld — Rickie, Ruchira, Alka, Amit, Ashima, Ritu, Naina, Sangeeta, Kajal and Sakshi, and it felt like I had always known them! We created quite a ruckus in the place and spent a really fun afternoon. Yes, we were going all out tasting the delicious Punjabi-Dilli cuisine. Oh yes, we had the famed meetha paan as well. The kids confirmed a few times to ensure that we were not going to eat on the streets again. Alas, my reputation for clean, hygienic food had taken a beating in their eyes.
Bidding goodbye to Delhi, our next stop was the city of Agra, the land of Taj Mahal and the place of my birth. I was going back after a good 3 decades. Originally from UP, I looked forward to connecting with the tastes of my childhood. That will come up in the next post.