With daytime temperatures topping 40 and the rainy season still a month away, those of us in Delhi are searching out new ways to stay cool-both literally and figuratively. We think we found it when we stumbled into the late-night, underground food scene.
On a recent night, Johanna Hussaini and her friends gather around a rickety wooden table. Between responding to messages on What’sapp on her iPhone, Hussaini, breaks a piece of paratha, dips it in raita and eats it with an onion ring.
Earlier in the evening they'd been club hopping around south Delhi's hotspots, but for many Delhiites street food is the preferred after-hours option. "After midnight the party shifts to Delhi's streets," she explains.
Tonight we're at a small eatery located in front of the Moolchand Metro station. Under the dramatic glow of bare bulbs and the light from zipping cars, the mood is relaxed. It's the perfect spot to recharge after a long night out. Conspicuous by their absence here are notes, calculators, names, signboards and advertisements. This roadside food stand is simply known as the Moolchand Parathawalla, and people come here through word of mouth recommendations.
"There are legends about street food joints, we know them by their special offerings," Burhan Fayaz tells us. "After dancing in stuffy and booming clubs, the outside air is such a relief."
Most of the roadside eateries offer vegetarian snacks. Trust us: You have to try the different dips made of tangy garlic chutney, tomatoes and puffed rice mixed with condiments. Dehli's street food scene is constantly changing, but right now our favourite 'hoods for roadside food are:
• Gurgaon and Noida (Always a good crowd.)
• Shivaji Stadium around Connaught Place
• Chandni Chowk
• Defence Colony
• Green Park (especially the Chur Chur Naan).
These places are perfect for meeting up, eating and comparing stories with our new friends about our wild nights. After all, the teammates who eat together rule the night together, and late nights in Delhi are the best time to beat the heat before the sun comes up.
Photos courtesy of Bijoyeta Das