If you love your street food, you must doff your cap to a young man who has been bringing down walls. There was a time when street food vendors of Old Delhi were an anonymous lot. Only the die-hard street food lover knew about, say, Moinuddin’s kababs or Jain Sa’ab’s fruit sandwiches. The adventurous would venture out in search of them, but the nondescript vendors sat in little corners, and it wasn’t easy to locate them. And then came Anubhav Sapra.
A street food lover himself, Sapra has been organising food festivals and food walks. He leads groups of people through the mazes of Old Delhi and introduces them to the best of street food.
And now, with his group, Delhi Food Walks, he has started a process of giving the best recognition as well. I was present at the first edition of the Delhi Street Food Awards, 2018, held in the Capital recently. It was a nostalgic reunion of food lovers and sellers.
Delhi Food Walks had selected 19 food categories — and put them up online for a vote. And I must say I agreed with most of the decisions.
Natraj Chaat in Chandni Chowk is actually known for its dahi bhalley, but got the best award for its aloo tikki. And indeed, the tikkis are delicious — with a crispy outer layer and soft and spicy potatoes within. My old favourite — Ashok Chaat Bhandar in Chawri Baazaar — won the award for gol gappas. I am not much into gol gappas mself, but I certainly rate them as one of the best chaat makers in town.
When it comes to samosas, it is difficult to zero in on any one samosa shop. But the well stuffed samosas of Chaina Ram Sweets are certainly among the best. The prize for the best papdi chaat went to Shri Balaji Chaat Corner in Chandni Chowk.
I love bedmi poori and Shyam Sweets in Chawri Bazaar, which won the award, is one of my favourites. And if you like chholey bhaturey (like I do, and I believe as do certain sections of the Indian political class!) then you should certainly try out the fare at Chacha’s in Kamla Nagar.
For breakfast fare, there is nothing quite like the nagori halwa that you get at Shiv Mishthan Bhandar in Chandni Chowk. But on kulfi, I differ with the majority that voted for Roshan Di Kulfi in Karol Bagh. My favourite is Kuremal Mohanlal in Kucha Pati Ram.
I was happy to meet some of the Qureshi brothers, who grill the most delicious seekh kababs in the Jama Masjid area and won the best seekh kabab prize. Khandani Pakode Wala in Nauroji Nagar was awarded for their delicious pakoras prepared with cauliflower, brinjal, paneer, potatoes and so on.
Among the other winners — all old favourites — was Fateh Ki Kachori in Civil Lines, Lotan Kulche Waala in Chawri Baazaar and Kallu Nihaari in Turkman Gate.
There were other awards as well — the best banta recognition went to Vedprakash Lemon in Chandni Chowk, Dolma Aunty in Lajpat Nagar was voted for her juicy momos, Moolchand Paranthe Waala for its popular parathas, Jain Chawal Wala in CP for rajma chawal and Singing Tree in Chittaranjan Park awarded for the various kinds of teas it serves. There was even a prize for the best paan, which went to Gupta Paan, better known as Odeon Paan.
The much respected Jamaluddin got a Hall of Fame award for his Old Kheer Shop in Lal Kuan area, while special category awards were conferred on ILHAM Afghan Cuisine Rajiv Bhai Ke Special Pizza Omelette in Palam Extension. The Trending Street Food honour went to KB Chaat’s Moonglet, Karol Bagh.
All well deserved, I say. But now it’s time we gave the “best award giver award” to Delhi Food Walks!