Walking the streets of India’s capital city is an assault on the senses. Locals on foot shoulder their way through the crowded sidewalks past brightly colored sari shops and stands selling floral offerings for the nearest temple. Horns of auto rickshaws and calls of street vendors come together to form a nearly continuous din, and amidst it all drifts the distinctive aroma of oil, curry powder and chili.
You may be familiar with the Indian dishes found in sit-down restaurants throughout the world, but it’s the street food in New Delhi that keeps you coming back for more.
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These crispy little triangles, typically stuffed with curried potatoes, cauliflower or peas are deep-fried and served fresh out of the oil. As you crunch through the golden brown pastry shell, fragrant steam escapes from the piping hot filling. Counteract the fiery flavors by dipping your samosas in tamarind sauce, a tart and slightly sweet brown condiment.
Indian restaurants in most parts of the world serve naan, a leavened flatbread, but in the streets of Delhi, puri is the bread of choice. The unleavened dough is rolled flat and deep fried, and usually served with a curry for dipping. The slight saltiness and satisfying crunch of puri perfectly offsets the sweeter flavor profile of some north Indian curries.
For a taste of Delhi in a single bite, you can’t do much better than gol gappas. Bite-sized crispy fried shells are filled with a spicy, sour and sweet mixture of boiled potatoes, tamarind water and chili. Have some napkins on hand, because these get messy.
Foodies with a sweet tooth should keep an eye out for a jalebi vendor. The long pieces of dough are wrapped into a loose spiral and, of course, deep fried. They are then soaked in a sugary syrup. The crystalized sugar coating gives way to a chewy, pillowy doughnut-like interior.