Mapping street food of Delhi with Anubhav Sapra

Today afternoon I met somebody whose job is envy to many of us who are in love with the city’s street food.  As promised we meet near Gate No 5 Chandni chowk Metro station. He orders five bottles of water puts them in the jute bags for the leg of customised food walk kick starting from 5pm and shares with me his thoughts on JFC , Natraj ki aloo tikka, best nahari, paya and much more.

Anubhav Sapra, the man behind Delhi Food Walks very graciously agreed for a conversation over his journey of Delhi Food Walks which has been in news  for the street food tours across Delhi and beyond Delhi as well. His transition from working for Centre for Equity Studies to being his own boss, bringing street food to the forefront and his journey from being blogger in 2010 to owning and running Delhi Food Walks, is a wonderful inspiration and I thought it would be great to wrap up 2014 for itiriti readers.

The anecdotes he shares is meaty and juicy for a small budget film if not a blockbuster. He began organising food tours for his foodie friends on Sundays along with a day job in Centre for Equity Studies. Slowly those food tours metamorphosed into Sunday walking tours as the numbers increased. And facebook played a revolutionary role here. Way back in 2010 Anubhav posted an event that he was going to organise a food walk in Paharganj. Thirty odd people showed up. It was a huge success. This response encouraged him to organise more such tours on Sundays mainly around Old Delhi.

Slowly by 2011 Delhi Food Walks was conceptualised and recently he has quit his day job and he works seven days a week from 8am to 9pm for Delhi Food Walks. Though he organises food walks around various nook and corner of Delhi, he loves to talk about the street food cultures of Old Delhi which as he endearingly puts it represents our syncretism. ‘Which place under the sun will have the best dishes made from vegetables, pulses and no onion and garlic and moment you walk over to another lane you can have the choicest pieces of lamb, goat and chicken?’ As I remind him of the best fried chicken, he remarks ‘oh yes, JFC you mean’. For all fried chicken lovers, it is a treat to get the best fried cuts from the shops right across Jamma Masjid and JFC rules!

He tells me that  old Delhi’s by lanes have a story to tell through food. I agree. He adds that each lane is a telling tale about food proscriptions practiced by community. One example he cites is the absence of onion and garlic in the condiments or stuffing of parathawallas of parathewalli galli. The owners, practicing Jains refrain from using onion or garlic and this is only paratha which is deep fried in ghee and I add, served with pumpkin curry and banana tamarind chutney. Nestled few yards away are the bakeries – a telling representation of cultures of bread making in India. As he recounts to me the bakeries in the by-lanes of Delhi he also recalls that in his childhood his mother used to knead the dough and send it off to local dhaba for rotis to be made. Our conversation moves to communal nature of making breads with the series of bakeries in Old Delhi still surviving by making rotis. No conversation of breads is complete without the famous kebabs and for kebab lovers Delhi Food Walks will soon announce a kebab and biryani trail in Old Delhi in January 2015.

As time runs out and he welcomes me to join him for aloo tikki at Nataraj (Chandni Chowk) he also shares a passionate project geared to make use of left over food from city’s professional kitchens.  Anubhav and his volunteers have done a survey regarding the  management of excess food across city’s restaurant counter-tops. In this project called Save food foundation, their aim is to collect the food and redistribute it to the homeless in the city.

As his guests arrive I join them for a piping hot aloo tikka chat at Nataraj and resist the temptation of joining them for the walk. On weekdays, he organises customised food walks across the city. Customised walks are tailor-made for your tastebuds and it can be a combination of Old Delhi, Majnu ka Tila and Kamala Nagar. Some of the food enthusiasts across the world and India also join his specialised by-lane walks (available on requests) which lasts for three to four hours in Old Delhi. Apart from food, there is a lot of food talk about the spices, the process, and the people involved in making the food.

On weekends, he organises community walks. These walks are listed  in facebook and anybody can sign the walk. Of late he is organising walks around specific food items. For instance in December 2014 he organised a chat trail in Old Delhi which I hear was a huge success. What is best about Delhi Food Walks is that they do not outsource the walks. So, Anubhav is here to guide you to have a taste of Delhi’s street food from 8 am to 9pm through city’s best kept secrets, and well known ones.

As I leave him with the guests and make my way through the metro station I add the kebab and biryani trail to my wish list  for January 2015 and head back home with food for thought.


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To more food talk in 2015!


NASVI’s third edition of street food festival brings dhuska, puttu, chicken pitha and much more…


National Street Food Festival has stepped into its third year. From its modest beginnings in Press Club in 2012, National street food festival is the most awaited event for Delhi’s food lovers.For the past two years, NASVI’s food fest has given us the best of the littis, puttus as well as award winning Chicken 65. With litti mutton, litti chokha, and litti chicken and taas kebab winning the hearts of food lovers over the past two years, this year’s pleasant discovery was Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh.

But we started our trail with our first love… Litti-Mutton.


For all of you who are planning to hit the street food festival in Jawaharlal Nehru stadium during weekend I would suggest you to try out Dhuska. Dhuska are crisp fried discs made from rice and gram flour, with a hint of saunf and bay leaf.Perfectly seasoned this crisp discs are served with potato and green peas curry and bamboo shoot pickle.



The bamboo shoot pickle is spicy and is a perfect accompaniment with another fried snack called gullele. Round in shape, this fried snack is prepared from wheat flour, salt, green chillies, crushed fennel seeds, bay leaf and a pinch of baking soda. A perfect snack in a winter evening.


Next on my card was chicken pitha. Pitha as all of us know are  rice cake(steamed and fried). There are various versions of rice cake across Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar but chicken pitha was a pleasant surprise.  I waited for the other foods to settle down so that I could dig into chicken pitha.  If you are a vegetarian you can settle for mushroom pitha as well. Prepared from a mix of boneless chicken and rice flour the chef behind the oven, explained to me the recipe as she dished out one pitha after another with utmost care, and passion.


As I watched her in rapt attention, my partner in crime already decided to settle for another snack from Jharkhand. Mutton liver fried with chana! Delicious! Must try.


My final recommendation would be Sepu badi with rice from Himachal Pradesh.


The grandeur of the festival has clearly caught up with the festive season. As it has stepped into its third year, it would  have been wonderful to have street foods from Kashmir,  Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur. I really missed the luscious crab curry from Orissa and wish the taas kebab was served with chura instead of roti. NASVI’s street food festival continues to be one of the most awaited events and incase you are planning your weekend lunch, head to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium tomorrow and day after. The festival comes to an end on 28 December.

Time to grab my packed dinner of litti-chokha from street food festival.

Good night, gorge on street food and stay warm.



Entry fees: Rs 50

Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Gate No 14.

Date :25-28 December

Nearest Metro Station : Jor bagh(yellow line) and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium ( violet line)

Check NASVI’s facebook page for more details


Notes from my kitchen : Beetroot carrot soup

My fondness for beet root began while doing errands for my mother’s special treat in winter evenings. Beetroot chop. Anybody familiar with Kolkata’s chop, cutlets will remember the burst of colours in this vegetarian chop. One of the standard tasks that I was entrusted with was washing vegetables. Needless to say I hated it, till it came to running the beet root cubes under cold water and watch the purple water coat my fingers. Sigh…

The winter chill has set in the capital and food cravings are an all time high. In an attempt to stick to deadlines, I have resorted to cooking one pot meals for some time now and today as I wrapped up a section I decided to treat myself to beetroot-carrot soup.  Armed with a beetroot, one carrot, half a slice of onion, two green chillies, slices of ginger, two sliced garlic pods, coconut milk, half a tea spoon of olive oil I set out to make this gorgeous chunky soup.  Roughly dice the beetroot, carrots and pressure cook it. I do not add salt to the water while boiling. Once the vegetables are boiled, shift it to a blender or in absence of one (like mine) use the pestle to mash the carrots and beetroots.


Take a pan, add half a tea spoon of olive oil. Add sliced garlic, onions, ginger, chopped green chillies and fry them till the onions are cooked.


Now add the mashed beetroot-carrot to the mix. Fry them lightly. Add salt and a pinch of sugar. Fry it for some time.


Add coconut milk to the mix and cook for a while. You might need to add half a cup of water in case you are using thick coconut milk.


Bring to a boil and it is ready to serve.


Let me tell you this soup is going to brighten up your day and lift up your mood. Time to wind up and get back to work. Drop me a line after you add your own twist while making this gorgeous soup.