Food in Old Delhi

The most famous dish in Old Delhi is Daulat ki Chaat – literally meaning snack food of the wealthy. You can only buy it in the winter in the narrow streets and lanes of Old Delhi. The precise recipe is a closely guarded secret but it involves mixing cream and milk for hours by moonlight. It froths up into a foam and is left to set in the cold morning air, a process which is assisted by dew. To finish off, add saffron, crushed nuts and unrefined sugar. Buy it directly from the barrowboy.


It tastes heavenly. Indeed, some have called it the Ambrosia of the Gods. It melts on your tongue, subtle and creamy, slightly sweet. A fluted cardboard saucer costs 40 rupees, but supersize it for an extra 10 rupees. You know you’re worth it. Sadly, there are only six more weeks to go in the Daulat ki Chaat season. By the time of the Holi Festival, it is off the menu.

This is just an ordinary cake shop

There are hundreds of sweet sellers making thousands of different kinds of dessert. The most famous is the jalebi, strands of sweetened dough fried in clarified butter (ghee). The old jalebiwalah opposite the Moti Cinema is the most famous and popular, as well as the most expensive. I enjoyed a plate of jelabi with sweet,  creamy yoghurt.

By the way,  be careful how you pronounce jalebi; julabi means diarrhoea.”Can you give me diarrhoea please?”

I prefer to go to Ghantewala Halwai, a sweet shop which was founded in 1790. It specialises in halva, pistachio barfi, and my favourite, laddoo. These are slightly larger than a golf ball, made with semolina, chick pea flour and ground coconut, soaked in sugar syrup and again, fried in ghee.


Dal biji is a snack made from crispy gram flour noodles, to which you add dried melon seeds, at Kanwarji Bhagirathmal.

Deep frying is a common way to cook pancake-style bread, such as paratha and puris. They look so enticing but to avoid being a total fat trip, they need to be skilfully cooked. If I eat anything, I choose a place which is packed with locals. If they can stomach the E coli, so can I.

img_9275 img_9344

Dairy products are very popular. I like this photograph of the girl looking up at the soft curd cheese.



From sublime sweets to blood and guts. After slaughter, nothing is wasted.

This little girl is delighted to help her father prepare trotters.
Some nice fresh liver. How about thinly sliced, fried in butter with sage leaves?
Or some brains, poached and served with a sprinkling of black pepper on hot buttered toast?
I must admit that I am not so keen on lungs. The bronchi are very chewy.

This little lad slices up lungs using a wickedly-sharp knife gripped by his toes.

With the cool weather, there is more fish in the market. These look fresh and tempting.


Enough of the gore. How about some fruit? Physalis or cape gooseberry? How about guavas – the best ones come from Thailand with pink, soft flesh – or ripe papaya which is wonderful with a squeeze of lime to dispel the faint sickly taste?

You need some spices to enliven the taste of bland food. This spice seller’s patch is just a thin sliver of pavement.


I saved this pot of liquid from boiling over. I have no idea what it is, however. It looks like something from Chernobyl.



By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.


  1. What a delight for the senses. I love every graphic, organic one of them. I will never go there but so enjoy the sights you share. Indian food in USA is making a big surge in popularity.

    1. Good traditional food is a delight. In UK there are many so called Indian restaurants staffed by Sylhetis from Bangladesh making food to suit the British palate which is not authentic. Curries here have spices but are not always hot.

  2. It must be something with turmeric 🙂 I hope that jalebi does not give one julabi :). I can feel the enthusiasm with India from your pages. Delicious all around!

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