Delhi food is as diverse as its population and its cuisine has developed over the centuries as a result of its historical rulers.
Delhi food is as diverse as its population and its cuisine has developed over the centuries as a result of its historical rulers. Centuries of Muslim rule have given Delhi its succulent shami and burra kebabs, as well as creamy kormas and salans, rich biryanis and pulaos, all delicately spiced main dishes. Once served at the courts of kings, emperors and sultans, this imperial cuisine is still eaten by most people.
Today, Delhi is a city of immigrants and each community has brought its own food. By far the most dominant is Punjabi and “Frontier” cuisine. The ubiquitous tandoori chicken, served with pickled onions and mint chutney was “invented” in Daryaganj’s Moti Mahal restaurant in 1947. Other popular foods are the dosa and idli from South India.
Delhi has an abundance of street foods. Bhutta (corn-on-the-cob) roasting on makeshift stoves, fruit juices and cooling sherbets sold from handcarts and the range of chaat (savoury snacks) are legendary. Equally famous are jelabis (crispy fried batter in syrup) phirni (rice pudding) and crushed almond or pistachio kulfi (ice cream), garnished with ribbon noodles.
From the old city of Delhi comes the nahari, the delectable mutton (which can mean goat meat too in India) dish that is cooked through the night and served at breakfast with naans. Snacks include the popular chhole-bhatura and vegetable pakora (Indian tempura).