Sunday, 19 September 2010

Foodie tour of Old Delhi

I don't love Old Delhi but when given the chance to traverse Chandni Chowk with a celebrity chef on a culinary tour, even I realise the foolishness in refusing.

More fool me though - I was still recovering and went against the advice of my doctor, who really just doesn't understand what it's like being a freelancer, and the experience of spending four hours in the maelstrom of the old city was enough to push me back inside the dengue pit.

Nevertheless it was a great day. It was a story for a UK magazine on restauranteur Marut Sikka, who owns two of Delhi's most evocative and creative restaurants - Magique and Kainoosh. He also has a cooking show on NDTV Good Times and a couple of cookbooks. The concept of the story was to have him introduce his food neighbourhood; although with Delhi being very spread out he chose Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi rather than his own neighbourhood.

Marut Sikka in the back of a cycle rickshaw

Together with a photographer flown up from Mumbai, we spent four hours pushing and shoving our way through the milk market, the spice market and various street food stalls. Not speaking Hindi, usually the nuances of these experiences escape me, so it was great to have a guide - especially one as enthusiastic and knowledgeable as Sikka.

The best chole batura stand in Old Delhi, according to Sikka

Vendor at the spice market, selling bark used as an old-time toothbrush

It was freaking exhausting, though. I fell asleep in the car on the way back to the restaurant where we still had to take his portrait shot and finish up my interview. I hope I didn't snore.

Thankfully the day ended with dinner at Kainoosh: tandoori lobster, the smoothest galouti kebab I've ever tasted, lamb spare ribs, chicken leg stuffed with apricot-y mince and wrapped in pastry, fig kulfi and a cocktail designed just for me: a jasmine cardamom martini.

Then I woke up the next day with a throbbing head and aching limbs. The fever was back.

But it had been such a stellar day it was kind of worth it.

This is me at the end of the day: slumped and exhausted and awaiting my jasmine-cardamom martini.

Last photo by Chiara Goia


Mezze Moments said...

Sounded like great fun. If you want last minute replacement call me anytime ! Hope your fever disappears for ever. x Marina

Anonymous said...

Look forward to reading the piece - which mag?

desiderata said...


Beautiful Things - Cathy said...

Sounds like an amazing day! Hope the fever clears up soon. x

Anonymous said...

Hi!!! My first visit here, hopped over from Quirky's blog, btw. Loved the post. Beautiful pictures.. makes me nostalgic (though I've been to Delhi just once!!).

ephemerette said...

Sounds like a fascinating food tour - such a shame you had to struggle through it- hope your feeling better now?

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