Touchdown in Delhi
I have officially arrived in Delhi, the capital of India, and the first on my culinary tour. And what a sight it is to behold. The city is abuzz with bustling bazaars, picturesque alleyways brimming with history, some 25 million people… and chaos. Noise, cars, cows, and chaos! I am in love.
Many people I know have told me that when you first arrive in India your senses are awakened by a thousand different smells, sights, flavours and colours; and they couldn’t be more accurate in their descriptions. I am overwhelmed with the plethora of food options that this incredible city has on offer; and I find myself devouring plate after plate of delectable dishes.
Jet lag weighing me down, a coffee buzz from the plane, and a rumbling stomach craving all that Delhi has to offer, I headed out straight after I arrived at my backpackers in search of some of the city’s famed dhabas (roadside eateries dotted along the national highways of India). For me, it’s the story behind these little places that I love, all of them starting out with humble beginnings as scantily-built shacks specializing in one or two items.
If they gained popularity with locals and travellers, a restaurant would be set up to cater to their future needs. The first of my hunger pangs satisfied, I then set off to a Market known by locals as the Paranthe Wali Gali, and gosh this was an experience in itself. Only a few hours into my arrival in the country and I had begun to understand the concept of controlled chaos.
I’ve been going to markets as far back as I can remember. My grandfather used to do the shopping for the community temple and I was dragged along as his ‘assistant’… much to my dismay at the time, as it interfered with afternoons with my friends on the cricket pitch. Though, it didn’t take me long to start enjoying these trips as I would watch in awe at the emphasis my grandfather placed on the ingredients and the care he placed on his vendor selection; scratching items from his list along the way.
Now in India, my attention was quickly distracted from the ingredients to the people. The market is everything you expect and more and it is because of the people and their resilience to survive.
You soon realise that one of the hardest things to do in Old Delhi is negotiate through the cluster of jammed-packed roads. But once you find your “groove”, you soon see the beauty of the people that surround you.
It truly is a sight to behold.