The Cost of Street Food in Delhi
Last month I moved from New York City to Delhi, first to volunteer and then to (hopefully) change careers. Finding a place willing to let me volunteer wasn’t hard; the next step is a little more daunting. In the meantime, I’ve become fascinated by Delhi’s street food. I’ve lived in India before, and while I did eat a lot of street food, I stayed away from a lot of the most delicious looking food because I was worried about getting sick. Of course, I still got sick all the time. This time I decided that if I was going to be sick either way, I might as well eat what I want. Plus, Delhi is huge, and the food on the street is so elaborate and varied and always-tempting. Most of the time I am too curious not to try.
A street food cost-breakdown, below.
Sweet lime juice with pomegranate: 33 cents. The same price as a bottle of water and it’s right by my apartment. Freshly made by a very enthusiastic juice-seller who always admonishes me to drink quickly so he can top up my glass while the juice is still fresh. This little routine helped me learn the unfortunate fact that there’s a limit to how much delicious and freshly-pressed juice I can drink in five minutes.
Bedmi aloo and nagori halwa: 82 cents. Available for breakfast, only! The bedmi, in the upper left-hand corner, is a fried bread, simultaneously dense and inexplicably airy, to be eaten with the intensely spiced potatoes and pickles in the center. Accompanied by the nagori halwa—the sweet yellow and buttery semolina to be eaten with the little biscuit like things on top. It was great—so elaborate and bizarre and perfect.
Rabdi Falooda: 50 cents. Sort of like a milk slushie, with noodles. Rabdi is similar to a pudding and falooda is a vermicelli noodle. Once I ordered he poured sugar syrup on top, added crushed iced, and mixed it all together. Strangely good, not withstanding its soupiness by the end.
Kulfi Falooda: $1.35. Rabdi falooda’s more dignified counterpart. I ate it all and wanted another the next day and the day after, too, please. Saffron and pistachio ice cream cut into pieces with plain and rosewater-soaked vermicelli piled on top. Who knew that noodles and ice cream belong together?
Chai: 16 cents. Sold everywhere and is always exactly what you need. Especially when it’s been over 105 degrees for a week and you’re avoiding using air conditioning as a personal penance to prevent global warming. Sold at every street corner, in every nook and cranny. It’s never more than ten rupees.
Phoebe lives in Delhi and is learning to cope with an average Fall temperature of 99 degrees.
Photo: Tiberiu Ana