We combine Delhi sightseeing with tasting the local street foods
A Delhi Food Tour is the perfect way to explore the city whilst tasting all the delicious street foods. Before we planned our trip to India I knew that I wanted to taste as many of the different foods as possible. However, we knew if we just wandered around looking for places to eat we’d miss out on some great experiences. So we booked quite a few small group food tours while we were in India. We really enjoyed them and it’s definitely something we’ll do again in the future.
Small group Delhi food tours
We arranged our Delhi Food Tour through Reality Tours and Travel. It’s never easy to choose a tour operator but Reality Tours had great online reviews and we liked the sound of their operation. Not only do they provide a fabulous Delhi Food Tour but they use their profits to benefit local people. If that sounds like a win-win to you then you’re spot on!
We paid 2000 India Rupees each for the tour which is about £22. You get all your food and water included and of course, the services of the guide. Someone with local knowledge makes all the difference because you can just relax and follow their lead. In a city as busy as Delhi that’s quite a luxury for a few hours.
As it was a small group food tour, we met outside the metro station in Connaught Place. We quickly found our guide, Vijay, and were then joined by two French ladies who would form our group for the evening. Apparently, two other people had booked the tour but they cancelled at the last minute.
One of the things I loved about doing this tour was that it was a Delhi City Tour as well as a food tour. We started our adventures with a trip on the Delhi metro. I wasn’t actually expecting that but it makes sense to meet somewhere central like Connaught Place and then travel to Old Delhi. The metro is quite new and clean and remarkably uncrowded which was something of a surprise.
Stepping out of the metro into the streets of Old Delhi is a bit of shock to the senses. Old Delhi is chaotic with lots of little alleyways and grubby streets. Without our guide, we’d have been a bit lost. Fortunately, Vijay knew exactly where he was going.
Indian Fried Potatoes
We started by tasting traditional Indian fried potatoes or aloo chat. You order and they make them fresh in front of you. In the photo above, you can see the large flat pan they fry the potatoes in. Vijay informed us that they make the potatoes as ‘normal’ and ‘spicy’. Most of our group ordered spicy but I chose the normal potatoes. Mine was delicious. Although the others enjoyed theirs they weren’t sure what extra spices were used.
Next, we tried some Indian sweets. I loved the fact that Indians have a sweet tooth as I love desserts. Before we arrived in India I didn’t know they had so many different types of sweets so it was a nice surprise. Jalebi was one of my favourites. The flour dough is deep-fried to produce a pretzel-shaped pastry which is soaked in sugar syrup. You can eat Jalebi hot or cold but they’re particularly delicious warm. They have a slightly chewy texture and they are very, very sweet.
We also tasted Kheer which is Indian rice pudding. I had this in Kolkata too but I didn’t know what it was called. Of course, it’s very sweet and Paul wasn’t so keen on it but I love it. Another sweet favourite was Shahi Tukda. This is a bread pudding where the bread is soaked in milk and nuts. It’s nothing like a traditional British bread pudding, although I love that too. I wish you could buy more Indian sweets in the UK although perhaps it’s best for my weight that we don’t!
One of the highlights of the Delhi Food Tour was our visit to the Sikh temple. We visited Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib which is a historical monument, built to commemorate the death of the Ninth Guru Satguru Tegh Bahadur. He was beheaded on the orders of the Mughal Emperor on 11th November 1675 because he refused to convert to Islam.
Thus, he became a martyr and is an important historical figure in Sikhism. His followers managed to remove his body and cremate it by burning his house. The trunk of the tree where the Guru was beheaded and the well he used for taking bath while in prison are preserved at the shrine.
As soon as we arrived at the temple we went to a reception area. Here you remove your shoes and leave them in the cloakroom. Both men and women must cover their head to enter the temple and they provide scarves for those who don’t have their own. Below, you can see Paul wearing this new fashion accessory. I think it quite suits him! Seriously, though we’re always happy to comply with these requests as it’s good to respect other people’s cultural and religious traditions.
Inside Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib
It was a bit strange that we had to leave our shoes and then walk outside onto the rather dirty street before entering the temple through the main door. You do walk through a footbath though so they’ve obviously considered that too.
Inside, the temple was quite busy but everyone, including tourists, is made very welcome. I’ve never been inside a Sikh Temple before so I was keen to see what it was like. In fact, the inside is beautiful but it is the atmosphere of peace and tranquillity that really strikes you.
Feeding the hungry
Every day, the kitchens at the temple feed thousands of people for free. It’s something that happens at Sikh temples across the world and it’s just one indicator of how genuinely hospitable the Sikhs are. In the photo below you can see part of the massive kitchen where the food preparation takes place. Huge cauldrons of rice and dahl are cooked here and then distributed to the lines of people sitting in the dining hall. Anyone can come along for a meal and you can even volunteer to help out if you want to. Unfortunately, we were short on time in Delhi but it’s something I’d like to do in the future as it’s such a worthwhile thing to be part of.
Spice and Fruit Markets
Then we took a tuk-tuk to the spice market. Here we saw a wide selection of spices. The chilli pepper area is called the ‘coughing and sneezing market’ which is very apt. Since I have asthma I was a bit wary of spending time here. It didn’t trigger my asthma but it did make me sneeze. As you can see in the photo above, it’s more of a wholesale market so the spices are not laid out on display. Instead, you see huge sacks full of chillis and other spices. All destined for local hotels and restaurants.
Nearby is a more traditional market where you can see goods displayed for sale. Even here they sell in quite large quantities although some had smaller bags for sale as well. It was amazing to see how many different types of dried fruit, nuts and seeds were available.
Probably my favourite savoury dish was Chole Bature. This is a puffed bread which we saw them make fresh right in front of us. Then it’s served with tasty chickpea curry. Really delicious. In fact, one of the things I love about eating Indian street food is that it’s cooked freshly for you. So you get to eat it piping hot and you can see how it’s cooked and what’s put in it.
Indian Fried Chicken
We finished our Delhi food tour with a tuk-tuk ride to Matia Mahal for fried chicken. Since neither of us eats chicken we weren’t looking forward to this part of the tour but the two French guests did want to try it so we went along. It was a very busy restaurant and Vijay couldn’t find us any seats so he arranged for us to sit upstairs in a room on our own. For company, we had several large buckets with raw chicken in it. At this point, none of the non-vegetarians was keen on eating here either but Vijay assured them it was quite safe. I was quite glad I don’t eat chicken, to be honest. However, the others did taste it and said it was good so don’t let me put you off if you like chicken.
Why you must do a Delhi Food Tour
If you’re in Delhi or anywhere else in India for that matter then do go on a food tour. We’d never go in any of these places without a guide as they just don’t look that inviting from outside but if you go to the right places, the food is excellent. We found the street food vendors and restaurant staff really friendly and very eager for us to taste their food. It was an amazing experience and we’ll definitely do it again when we return.