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CHHOLE BHATURE: THE KING OF DELHI NCR STREET FOOD

Every city has its “official” street food. Mumbai has vada pao and bhel. Bangalore, its Bisi Bele Bath and set dosae, Kolkata’s, jhal muri and ghughni, and Chennai’s tiffin. Then there’s Ahmedabad’s khakra and other farsan, Patna’s litti chokha and Jaipur’s onion kachori.

What is the official street food of NCR? Kulcha matar? Chhole bhature? Samosa? Momos? Or the various kinds of Chaats? What is that one street food that binds Delhi NCR together?

Gurgaon Foodie, the leading Facebook based foodie community in NCR with 54000+ members conducted a poll to find out what the preferred street food option was for the residents of the capital region. The clear winner with 31% votes was Chhole Bhature, the popular Punjabi dish enjoyed almost all over NCR, followed by its lighter cousin Matar Kulcha at 21%. So Chhole or ‘spicy curry made with chickpeas’ and ‘bhature’, a leavened fried flat bread rule the street food of Delhi NCR. In fact, every restaurant and dhaba has its own flavour of Chhole Bhature. Traditionally it is served with carrot pickle, onions, achaar and green chutney, with rich sweet lassi at the end.

Chickpea is one of the earliest cultivated legumes – 7,500-year-old remains of it have been found in the Middle East. No wonder that whether as chhole or as besan flour, it is one of the favourite legumes for Indians. Many popular dishes are made with chickpea flour or besan, such as Mirchi Bada and mirapakaya bajji. Many of the dishes in the arid regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat are based on chickpeas and chickpeas flour, making them one of the largest consuming states for besan. And be it savoury pakodas or sweet besan laddoo, chickpeas or chhole rule the roost.

Chickpeas has also spread the world over and are used in a multitude of dishes. In Portugal, chickpeas are one of the main ingredients in rancho. In Spain, they are used cold in tapas and salads. In Italy, chickpeas are eaten with pasta or in soup. In southern Italy, chickpea flour or besan is made into a batter for panelle, a sort of crepe. In Egypt, chickpeas are used as a topping for kushari. Chickpea flour is used to make “Burmese tofu” which was first known among the Shan people of Burma. And Hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas, a dish we all are so familiar with. Be it Mediterranean, Middle East or Asia you will find this wonder legume as an inherent part of the cuisine.

So go on, hit the streets and dig into a plate of piping hot chhole bhature with all its accompaniments washed down with a creamy sweet lassi – for the satiation only Delhi can provide!