So we have made it to our first stop, Delhi! On 14th June we left Shrewsbury on a train at 12.24pm to London Heathrow where our flight departed at 20.45pm. Everything was really smooth and we even managed to leave slightly earlier and arrive in Delhi a bit earlier than expected also. We arrived to Delhi airport at approximately 09.30am after no sleep so we were both walking zombies at this point and then had to wait in the dreaded immigration bureau queue for so looong before being free!
We traveled for about 45 minutes from the airport to Pahargandj, New Delhi where we checked in to our first accomodation of the trip. The first day was such a blur… by the time we got checked in and sat down it was midday and we really just wanted to sleep more than anything. We had a spot of lunch from Sita Ram Diwan Chand, the signature dish Chole Bhatura (AMAZING – more about this shortly) and then a little nap before going out to explore the local streets later on in the evening.
After a horrendous and pointlesss nap we went for a walk up and down the streets towards New Delhi Railway Station. So many shops selling all sorts of beautiful dresses, clothes, bags, shoes… inscence sticks burning everywhere, stunning copper Ganesha and animal statues. You can literally find and buy anything you could ever want here and for a fraction of the prices that we are used to in the UK. We wondered around for a short while before visiting Exotic Rooftop Cafe for a well deserved evening snack… A thali of course!
We opted for an early night to try and get back into a regular sleeping pattern and this just was not happening at all… Despite having a lovely luxurious A/C room at Hotel Metropolis we spend the majority of the night tossing and turning, our heads buzzing with excitement of things to come. This night there was a heavy downpour and lightning, which made the atmosphere a lot cooler for the morning.
We woke up at 7.30am the next morning to try and make the most of the day and to get about and do things before it became too hot later in the day… We returned to Sita Ram Diwan Chand for another amazing Chole Bhatura! Although Zak was kind of devastated that he had to wait until 8am for the place to open!
This is the unbeatable Chole Bhatura… It is a typical North Indian/Punjabi dish. I don’t know how they make it so tasty but bloody hell, they do! It costs only RS.60 and as far as breakfasts goes it fills you up for hours! You can see here that the Chole is the chickpea curry… This contains spicy chickpeas, potatoes, coriander along with spices like garam masala, turmeric, red chilli powder. I am pretty sure they must cook it for hours as it literally melts in your mouth! The Bhatura is the bread. This is a fluffy stuffed flat bread, it is super juicy and is perfect for mopping up any leftover juices. Served on this side is sliced red onions, spiced mango and a spiced green chilli. They usually have a spiced pickled carrot on the side too but unfortunately we have not been lucky enough to have one yet. What is so handy aswell is that they do these dishes as a takeaway so they can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home or accomodation. It is a very male dominated restaurant.
With full tummies we headed out for a wonder around Chandni Chawk, the old city of Delhi. Very fascinating indeed! Lots to see and a real eye opener into another world! I did take the GoPro with me so I will put together a little edit so that you can all see the wonders of the magical place for yourselves. It is literally like a labyrith of wonder and magic… the streets filled with spicy smells, freshly made chai bubbling away, so much street food and SO MANY PEOPLE (alot of stares too)!
Here is a short video lapse of our tuk tuk drive from Old Delhi to New Delhi. The driving and traffic here is a complete free for all, it’s madness!
The thali we had the previous night did not really tickle our tastebuds in the way that we had hoped so we did a bit of research to find the best North Indian thali we could find in this area… a short tuk tuk drive away and we arrived at Connaught Place (a very rich area) to a place called Rhajdhani Thali restaurant. What an experience! This is definitely my favourite ever thali so far. From start to finish it really was a great experience. When you walk through the door, you have a yellow bindi painted on your forehead and are offered an Indian sweet. To start with, a big fancy jug is brought over to the table for you to wash your hands, you then sit at the table with an empty thali trays which the waiting staff come over and fill up for you full of all sorts of heavenly goodness. I REALLY wish I could tell you what everything was! I will have to find out. It was like a festival of flavours dancing about my mouth… truly fantastic and I would 100% recommend anyone to visit there. We were so well looked after. Just look at this thali!
We had quite a productive day really and even managed to get to New Delhi Railway Station to book tickets for our onwards journey. Today (17/06), we are leaving Delhi for Kalka and then onwards to Shimla via the ‘toy train’. We will be traveling for over 24 hours but will be returning to Delhi in a few weeks time to do some real sightseeing.
Zak at 2am: “I love Chole! I don’t care if it’s annoying, I love it! I can’t wait for breakfast. I need Chole! Chole. Chole. Chole.”
Zak is absolutely addicted to Chole… We were trying to sleep last night, again tossing and turning and then he is wide awake saying how much he loves Chole, googling pictures of it and drooling like a hungry labrador! SO funny!
Obviously breakfast again this morning was…Chole.
Well anyway, that’s a bit of an insight into our first few days in India. Thank you Delhi for being so friendly and welcoming to us. We will see you again soon!