Vendors who have the nerve to take on Delhi’s iconic food institutions

Photo credit: 
Sushant Sinha
Binge's picture
September 17, 2016
Three street food veterans within a three-mile radius of India Gate form an important subculture in the city.

Central Delhi is blessed with eating spots that have gone on to become imprinted in most food itineraries. The clanging of steel plates in the canteen at Andhra Bhavan, the sharp hiss of potato being dipped into hot oil at Bengali Sweets, and the kebabs-with-a-cult-following at Khan Chacha are such an important part of eating in Delhi that it’s nearly a taboo to not have experienced them.

To take on the challenge of rivalling celebrity status takes grit. The vendors who’ve set up shop outside these very establishments are testament to this. They haven’t moved or shut down despite the fact that business tends to take a dive, sometimes for extended periods of time. We meet the men behind the rickety stalls that are often neglected in favour of concrete-and-brick.

The paraathe-wala outside Andhra Bhavan

Photo credit: Sushant Sinha

Tea: Rs 8 for a cup. Paraathas: Rs 20 for two.

The bhelpuri-wala outside Khan Chacha

Photo credit: Sushant Sinha

Bhel puri: Rs 30 for one plate.

The chhole-wala near Bengali Market

Photo credit: Sushant Sinha

Chhole: Rs 25 for a portion, along with three kulchas. Raita: Rs 10. Parathas: Rs 15 for two.

The three men have been around for close to 30 years each. They regularly serve part of the clientele that otherwise belongs to the big guns of cheap-and-cheerful fare, along with a separate set of loyal customers. After years of playing cat-and-mouse with the NDMC, they have finally settled into their respective spots without much legal threat.

Photo credit: Sushant Sinha

*No names. No directions. Only vague locations. Binge photo guides challenge you to find these spots using only the photographs and brief information we give out. We haven't made it too hard but you might need to go exploring a little bit: high-five us if you manage, and write to us if you don't.