INDIA. Delhi. Winter arrived early this year and I could feel the chill in the air as I stepped out on the streets of Old Delhi. I found streets full of Revadis, Gazaks, and hawkers selling different kinds of winter-specific delicacies. Various kinds of Street Foods, like Halwas made with Gajar (Carrots), Adrak (Ginger) and Dal (Lentils), Daulat ki Chaat, Shakarkandi ki chaat sold on portable hourglass-shaped stands, Kadhai Wala Doodh in sweet shops, and many other savouries created a beautiful melee of flavour, fragrance, and colours.
Fragrant savouries and desserts are simply irresistible during winters as street food gets a new life during winters. The sights of hawkers selling freshly roasted, still-warm moongphali (peanuts) with pouches of flavoured salt mark the arrival of actual winters. Enjoying the sun and snacking on moongphali is not the only ritual associated with winters. Most moongphali sellers also sell little rounds of til-patti or gur-patti i.e. sesame and groundnuts set in sugar or jaggery, and gajak, revadis made with sesame and jaggery, and moori ke ladoo made with puffed rice and jaggery. The round til-pattis are rough, brittle, and homemade by small-time retailers and are mouth-watering.
Many towns specialise in gajak making; sesame is broken with hammers, the jaggery or sugar set in layers, and the end result needs to be absolutely brittle and light. Gazak is also called Chikki in western India where nuts like groundnuts are set in jaggery or sugar in denser squares than the gajak.
Daulat Ki Chaat is a sweet version of chaat. Available in Delhi in winter (November, December, and January) only, it is a magical creation involving milk and cream that one cannot forget for life. It’s actually a dessert that melts in your mouth and warms up your heart. The best version of this nutrient-rich dish, topped with khoya and a pinch of a saffron mixture is served in ‘donas’ or ‘kulhad’ only in Old Delhi streets; Kinari Bazar and Nai Sarak at Chandni Chowk.
Gajar ka Halwa, or carrot halwa is a carrot-based sweet dessert pudding, made with grated carrots, milk, sugar, khoya, and ghee and garnished with almonds and pistachios. The dessert is served and eaten hot during the winter.
Rampuri cuisine in UP in north India is also famous for making halwas with adrak, eggs, and even garlic. Sounds like a very bitter dessert, these halwas are super delicious,
Kadhai wala doodh or Dry fruit milk enriched with Saffron and nuts, as the name mentions is a warm, thickened milk-based drink that is infused with the flavors of saffron and is enriched with dry fruits, poppy seeds, and khoya. Kadhai wala doodh is considered to be royal in India and especially in winters, it helps to keep the body warm.
Some love to add Jalebis also in this hot milk and believe me – it just becomes heavenly delicious. You get hooked for your entire life after just one sip.
Shakarkandhi ki Chaat
Shakarkandi ki Chaat, a scrumptious snack is another winter delicacy in Delhi. Coal roasted sweet potatoes (shakarkandi) wallahs with their portable hourglass-shaped stands are seen all over the city markets serving you a patta (plate) of shakarkandi, spicy, salty, lemony and sweet all at the same time. The smokiness of coal creates the unique Delhi taste of the shakarkandi. Original Shakarkandi chaat was created In Delhi. The chaat is a deliciously sweet and tangy street food seasoned with a melange of chaat masala, spices, and garnished with a variety of toppings like sliced kamrakh (star fruit), and drenched with lemon juice.
Yes, winter is the time to relish above delicious foods, but how can one forget the other evergreen street foods which are equally exotic and must for a foodie in winters. The dishes like Aloo Chaat, Papri Chaat, Aloo ki Tikkiya, Samosas and Kachoris, Dal Chilas, Jalebi Fafda, and Jalebi Poha become even tastier.