Delhi Girlfriend Getaway: A Foodie Heaven
Delhi’s local spice seller Amit Goel speaks to writer Lauren Hill about his life as a spice seller and what spices are tingling the taste buds of the city’s locals.
The dusty uneven Ramdwara Road bubbled over with relentless activity, while sellers lined the street, filling every available space with their wares set up on wooden carts, woven rugs, or by their open shop fronts. Weaving between each other’s vehicles, pedestrians and livestock all traveled with purpose but no apparent order. Among this hive of activity, behind a counter of vibrant colored spices, stood the local spice seller Amit.
Amit was born in Delhi, brought up around Ramdwara Road and learned about spices as he was growing up, “I was taught by my elders,” He told me “It was always my hobby to cook so I experimented with different kinds of food to try and create something new. Now spices are my passion.” So, in 2003 he opened his own spice-shop, taking over his grandfather’s general store that had been there since 1967.
“My childhood was here on Ramdwara Road,” Amit continued “I enjoyed growing up here because everybody knows everybody else and is tranquil and kind. I love Ramdwara street market most of all – It’s wider and quieter than the Main Bazaar.”
Main Bazaar is Delhi’s busy central market that is a popular stop off for tourists and where Amit recently opened his second – and already thriving – spice shop.
Amit sources all of his spices from across India, sometimes traveling to research a region’s spices but mostly people find him at his shop in the city.
In Delhi, Amit spends any free time he has in places where he can leave the fast pace of the city behind. “If I’ve had too much of city life and I have some time to spare, I visit the city’s most peaceful temples and gardens and I go to Old Delhi’s local restaurants when I want to eat out. The restaurants I like to eat at are not in any guidebooks or on any maps, but you can find them on the streets of Old Delhi.”
In India spices are used for their medicinal qualities as well as for the taste that is still favored over any artificial flavoring. “Garam masala is the main spice in Dehli.” Amit told me, “Without it, it isn’t possible to have many of the local dishes. I use a lot of green cardamon as well – with cloves, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and aniseed I can make a tea that maintains my body temperature in the heat.” Another popular spice in Delhi is turmeric – a spice used in many Indian dishes but also highly regarded for its health benefits. This vivid yellow, pungently flavored spice transforms the flavor of both sweet and savory dishes.
One recipe that makes use of this spice is the deliciously satisfying yet simple dish dhal, often eaten with piping hot chapattis – an essential addition to anyone’s Indian cooking repertoire and a part of so many meals across India.
1 cup yellow lentils
1 cup onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of oil
1″ stalk of grated ginger
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli
Cover the lentils with water and soak over night.
When the lentils have been soaked put them into a pan of water and bring to the boil, then leave them to simmer until the lentils are soft.
In another pan, fry the chopped onion and garlic before adding the ginger, turmeric and chilli. Cook for 10 minutes then add the yellow lentils to this pan. Season to taste.
1 cup strong whole-wheat flour
½ cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper
Combine the flour, oil, salt and pepper together in a bowl then gradually add the water while mixing and kneading until you have the dough. Dust the dough with a little extra flour and leave it to rest for 30 minutes. Divide the dough into six pieces and make each one into a ball before rolling it out until it’s approximately 2.5mm thick. Heat a frying pan and without adding any oil cook the chapatti for a couple of minutes on each side – just enough to puff up and give the chapatti some color.
Lauren is in constant pursuit of adventure, new knowledge and experience fueled by her passion for travel, photography, writing and the world we live in. She is originally from England and currently living in Singapore, while striving to travel as much as possible. This passion for travel has so far taken her through almost 30 countries, with time spent working, studying or volunteering in Cuba, Colombia, Costa Rica and Australia; and over two years of living, working and travelling within Japan. Visit Lauren’s website to find out more about her adventures abroad.
“This post is part of WanderFood Wednesday”