I can only hope, for your sake, that you have a strong stomach and mind…because New Delhi street food can make bellies very, very happy. If you’re in, you’re in for delight, namely delicious comfort foods like momos, thukpa, and paranthas, kebabs, biryani, and chaat (various savory or salty snacks that are particular to the Indian palate, and that there is no substitute for anywhere else in the world).
If safety is a concern, you can rest assured that the vendors on this list are reigning champions of street food, and value hygiene as well as quality and flavor. But many other city street vendors these days are conscientious about using mineral water in their preparations, because they know they’ve got to give visitors a fair shot of tasting some of the city’s culinary genius. If you’re going to shop around for street food, look for vendors with signs saying “Bisleri water”— a generic term meaning all filtered/mineral water.
Majnu Ka Tilla
Perfect for cool Delhi evenings, Majnu ka Tilla is a colloquial name for a North Delhi locality close to the Yamuna—a Tibetan settlement where you’ll find the best brothy noodles and soupy momos (dumplings) outside of Tibet. It has a series of small restaurants, some more official looking than the others, so it’s not strictly street food but fits the bill in spirit.
Prince’s Paan in M-Block Market, Greater Kailash I
The proper way to end a festive Indian meal is with paan (folded betel leaves stuffed with various fillings), which work as a digestive as well as a mouth-freshener. As is the case with all specialty arts, the people who make paan do it superbly—and the vendors at Prince’s Paan & Chaat Corner serve up both classic variations and new innovations like Chocolate Paan.
Paranthe Walli Gali
For me, paranthas always remind me of Sunday family lunches (and also occasional after-party roadside stops, when a carb overload is fully justified). This lane in Old Delhi serves theirs piping hot, and stuffed with both the usual aloo/gobi (potato/cauliflower) as well as more unusual fillings like badam (almonds.) Whatever you choose, there is no excuse for skipping the blob of butter that melts in the middle of your hot parantha. It’s good for you; my mum says so!
Even though chaat is now widely available, you can only get the true New Delhi experience by eating it on a busy street, blocking out the sound and fury of busy traffic to focus on every bite of fresh, tangy, minty golgappas (bite-sized airy bread puffs). Bengali Market has been serving chaat for ages, so they’re clearly doing something right; try the papri chaat or dahi aloo tikki. And golgappas, of course. It’s mostly air and water (I tell myself), so it doesn’t really count as proper food. So go on, have another plate!