Butter Chicken! Tandoori chicken! Paneer tikka! Mouthwatering right? What else? They are also what one would think as quick examples to describe the food of Delhi. Interestingly, the quintessential food of Delhi was alien to the city before the partition of the country that divided India and Pakistan in 1947, 72 years ago.
Welcome to the food tour that chronicles the history of Delhi as you sample the iconic delicacies that defined each era. We’ll take you on a culinary sojourn where you’ll learn how food cultures in Delhi changed as the city underwent many identities.
There are many identities of Delhi and one can see the histories and centuries of Delhi being preserved by the diversity of people today who call it home. That also reflects in the capital’s food.
We start our tour with Old Delhi, and travel back in time to the 17th century when the city was called Shahjahanabad. We learn how the British rule and years of partition altered the capital’s culture fabric and food significantly. Exquisite architecture and extravagance defined Delhi then and that also reflected in the cuisine that was elaborate and artful and represented the close living of many communities such as the Mughals, Kayashths, Baniyas etc. We nibble on delectable kebabs, learn about the influence of the Mughal leadership on the food of a Hindu community or the fascinating story of chaat that is seeped in the legend that it was developed as a result of a medical prescription given to then emperor Shah Jahan.
We move toward New Delhi, and take a tea break aptly at a restaurant, established in the 1940s, that still serves food from the British Raj. Chai or milk tea that today is most definitely India’s most beloved beverage was popularised by the British. We learn about the influences on food during the British rule, the birth of a new cuisine of Anglo Indian food.
Our food walk then continues with the stories of partition in Butter Chicken, Dal, Naan and Chole Bhature that have today become iconic transcontinental dishes. Delhi saw an overnight transformation with the partition with Muslims fleeing the city for Pakistan and arrival of Hindu refugees. After partition, Punjabi refugees along with their tandoor (ovens) carried their grit, enterprise and hardines to Delhi. Small eateries established by them started the Indian restaurant food, established the culture of eating out in India and Delhi’s food predominantly became ‘tandoori.’
The tour takes you on Delhi’s culinary history so you must bring an appetite. As we try the most iconic food delights of Delhi, marvel at the change in landscape as you pass by Jama Masjid and Red Fort of Old Delhi to New Delhi.
Laden with history and stories and so much taste – this is a food tour you won’t want to miss!