A 'Greatest Hits' Food Trail Through Old Delhi's Best Eateries
Image Credit: Gujia at Chaina Ram. All photos by the author

This article is part of Slurrp's Friday Food Walks. Catch up with our previous tours, through Chennai's Sowcarpet, Kolkata's Simla Mishti Para, Chandigarh's Punjab University precinct, Jaipur's MI Road, Ahmedabad's university-centric trail, Hyderabad's Sindhi Colony, and Srinagar's Dargah Hazratbal.


I have been visiting Chandni Chowk, Chawri Bazar and Jama Masjid area to eat street food, for almost 20 years. It is my favourite place to hang out for food experiences. I classify the eateries into three categories:

1. Famous and touristy places that serve good food. Examples: Karims, Old Jawahar, Aslam’s Chicken, Giani’s, Jalebiwala, Natraj Dahi Bhalley, JB Kachori etc.

2. Non-touristy, but popular among locals and foodies from elsewhere. Examples: Kallu, Haji Shabrati, Chaina Ram, Sheeren Bhawan etc.

3. Hidden gems that are not much talked about, but are very good. 

 In this post, I cover eateries from categories 2 & 3.

I had some unbelievably good parathas, much better than those from the famous Parathewali Gali, at a nondescript, not-talked-about restaurant named Asha Ram Foods, with an entrance that is too shy to announce its presence. To reach the restaurant on the first floor, one has to brave the steep, narrow staircase. Delhi Townhall is visible from the dining area.

When I first started going to this restaurant, I was amused to find that guests with at least one lady were served food at the table. Stags had to go for self-service!

Our favourites at Asha Ram foods have been the juicy, lightly-spiced and finished-with-ghee baingan ka bharta, kadhi pakora, doodh wala shahi paneer (crumbled paneer cooked with jeera in a milk base), aloo ka parantha (grated boiled potatoes instead of mashed potato) and paneer parantha (made in tandoor).


Pandit Ved Prakash Nimbu Pani Wale serves such a strong, potent, tasty lemon drink that I have never stopped at one glass.

We have been visiting this place for many years now. The owner is referred to by locals as ‘Panditji’. I go there infrequently but they remember me and I always enjoy a good chat with Panditji on everything from food to current affairs and even US elections!

Inside the shop, a few guys sit and churn out nimbu pani using strong locally made soda (banta), the right amount of fresh lemon and their secret masala mix. Panditji usually stands outside the shop, takes orders, picks up the glasses and hands them over to customers, and also takes the payment. It amazes me how he does this effortlessly while chatting with customers.


I love the unputdownable sweets at the century-plus Chaina Ram Sweets, near Fatehpuri Masjid. All sweets are made from desi ghee and good ingredients. The desi ghee bit is mentioned on the wall and is obvious as soon as one eats the sweets. ‘Please do not refrigerate our sweets’ claims the sweet box and this is reiterated also by the people in the shop.

Karachi Halwa, unlike in most other places, is less sweet (enjoyable), less chewy and has no food colour. Sev paak, made with sev (usually used for making namkeen) has an unexpected as well as excellent taste and texture.

I have had the best dhoda and gujiya ever, at this shop. The dhoda is not very sticky, more intense in taste and flavour, and optimally sweet. The gujiyas have a super crispy and flaky outer layer, tight filling of mawa, dry fruits and spices, and no dripping ‘ras’.

Geyar (mammoth jalebis) is sold before Holi. These are excellent to taste, have a tinge of fermented sourness, are not overly sweet or dripping with ‘ras’, and are instead very crispy.


Sohan Sweets Radhe Lal Halwai is an old shop behind Jama Masjid, now with a renovated façade. They have a very small offering – one or two savoury items and a unique cylindrical gulab jamun.

My friend gifted us a box of what we now jokingly call ‘afeem’: the unputdownable, addictive, gulab jamuns from this shop. It was so addictive that at home we (just two people) finished around 15 pieces in one box, in a span of 24 hours!

This gulab jamun is not too sweet and has a tinge of salt that balances the taste, an unusually dry-ish texture as the ‘ras’ enters the sweet but not much. 

I love their matar samosa. It has a perfectly ‘khasta’ (flaky) outer cover. I love the texture of pea filling due to its balanced seasoning, moistness, perfect done-ness of the peas and predominant flavours of green pea, aptly complemented by the flavour of spices.


Babu Bhai Kabab Wale used to sell buff sutli kabab and boti kabab when we first ate  at his stall two decades ago, in Chitli Qabar area. This time we found Babu Bhai’s shop different: glossy, tiled, neat and clean. The menu has changed to chicken kababs, buff seekh (dry and gravy), and chicken seekh (dry and gravy). Aslam Chicken surely had an impact on this whole street: the creamy buttery sauces are freely flowing. The kababs were totally different from what I had in mind but they were delicious nonetheless. Babu Bhai still does sutli and boti kababs for parties and bulk orders.


It’s not a coincidence that when we asked the local residents and shopkeepers about a good sweet shop, they independently and unflinchingly pointed us towards the 110-plus-year-old sweetshop Sheeren Bhawan.

Sheeren Bhawan offers many sweets with less milk or no milk – different kinds of halwas, daal-based sweets, imartis etc., all prepared using ghee made in-house.

Our favourites are gond (natural plant-based glue) ka halwa, sohan halwa, habshi halwa, safed gajar ka halwa and gajar ka halwa.

Habshi halwa is black and has milk, an assortment of spices and herbs that are said to warm up the body. Safed gajar ka halwa is made from a rare variety of white carrots sourced from Uttar Pradesh. These two are available only in winter.

There is something in common in all the halwas at Sheeren Bhawan. The halwas are not too sweet, high on ghee (felt both in texture and flavour), have a tinge of saltiness that balances the sweetness, and are robust in taste. They are unmissable and unforgettable.

During Ramzan evenings, they sell three dry items that people buy and have at home with milk or reduced milk – jalebi, feni (super fine vermicelli) and khajla (flat layered sheets made from maida). All three items are not dunked in sugar syrup, and are mildly salted.


Eating out at Kallu Nihariwala is not only memorable due to the outstanding food but also the experience of extreme pandemonium that one goes through to first receive the food and then eat it. The shop opens at around 5 in the evening and the food is over in about an hour-and-a-half. There is no seating. The best option is to carry tiffin boxes from home, buy the food, sit elsewhere, and eat.

They serve only buff nihari, nalli and rotis. The nihari at Kallu is high on robust flavours of spices and herbs, but no one spice/herb dominates the flavour. The gravy is thicker than at most restaurants and I find this to be the best in Delhi. The meat simply melts in the mouth. 

Well, that's the list for today. I look forward to hearing from you after you visit these eateries.