This Vibrant Destination Is Regarded As One Of The World's Best For Foodies

While it may be the reigning capital of India, New Delhi might be better known as the nation's leading foodie oasis. Located in north-central India, the mouth-watering aromas wafting through the air from New Delhi's coveted street food markets and eclectic hole-in-the-wall eateries is a surefire sign that locals in this city know a thing or two about cooking. This Indian capital derives its taste from cuisines worldwide and regions closer to home. Some of its most prominent influencers are Maharashtra, South India, and Bangladesh. It's nearly impossible to separate New Delhi's food culture from its age-old history. As a ruling capital of South Asian and British empires at various times, its culinary scene was molded around the cultures that dominated the city. 

New Dheli was one of two Indian cities ranked among the world's best cities to try native cuisine. Locals aren't shy about expressing their pride in the city's ever-expanding culinary scene, even going so far as to call New Delhi the food capital of India. New Dheli's government pushed forward a mass marketing endeavor in 2022 to maximize and promote the city's culinary food landscape internationally, boost the economy, and create an influx of new job opportunities. Today, the city is a global market for entrepreneurs jumpstarting their culinary ventures and an epicenter for adventurous foodie travelers eager to dig their forks into traditional New Delhi cuisine.

Chaat — the local staple of New Delhi

Enticing aromas, rich flavor profiles, and spice blends often mark staple foods in New Delhi. Traditional northeastern spices, like bamboo shoots, are often used to enhance flavor in staple meat dishes and other native plates. Local Indian cuisine is easy to spot, yet so are a growing number of international dishes that help to create a melting pot of artistic culinary creations. Not quite as upscale as the American farmer's market but equally as enticing, Indian street food is the most common method for securing a mid-day meal or post-lunch pick-me-up. Chaat is the reigning jewel of street food carts and the Dheli version of America's iconic charcuterie board. Originally finding its way to the city streets of New Delhi in the 17th century, chaat can be found at nearly any alley market or sold sporadically around the city streets through independent vending carts. 

Its moniker translates to "lick" in Hindi and Urdu, and plates are typically formed around a curated selection of fried potatoes and lentils tossed alongside chutneys and masala spice blends. However, no two chaat dishes are the same, giving free rein to entrepreneurs to get inventive with their food and put a personal spin on this South Asian delicacy. However, New Delhi's famous street food isn't contained to side streets and alleyways — it can even be found in urban mall centers and popular shopping districts, like City Square, Bittoo Tikki Wala, and Prabhu Chaat Bhandar.

Peruse New Delhi's food scene

If you're still pondering what draws so many visitors to the cramped yet alluring streets of New Delhi, order a plate of aloo tikki, butter chicken, or pakora, and you'll soon see why. Aloo tikki chaat is New Delhi's take on hash browns. Say goodbye to your favorite frozen pack of hash browns in the center aisles of your local grocery store and hello to Delhi's deep-fried mashed potatoes and cutlets. Served alongside sour and mint chutneys and adorned with refreshing toppings, like yogurt. Just as enticing, butter chicken stays true to its name. Think Thanksgiving dinner with mashed potatoes, turkey (chicken in New Delhi), and gravy for this native Indian dish! This traditional staple is made from a montage of pureed tomatoes, butter, and cream paired with chicken and typical Indian bread varieties, like naan. 

Much of New Delhi's culinary scene has been built from the ground up, supporting colorful markets, lively street food carts, and fancy 5-star restaurants. Many of the city's fine-dining establishments have secured their reputation from a commitment to home-cooked, healthy, and ethically sourced products. Restaurateurs are careful about how and where they source ingredients. Many restaurant owners work directly with specialized vendors to receive their supply of fresh produce. With a culinary scene as diverse as the city itself, it's not uncommon for entrepreneurs and first-generation creatives to journey from around the world to launch their newest foodie endeavor in the heart of New Delhi's center.