Poori bhaji and other culinary wonders

Twenty years ago I had poori bhaji for breakfast in Udaipur, India. I had three helpings, I thought it was the best breakfast I had ever had. For years I kept a note in my wallet so that I wouldn’t forget the name, should I ever go to India or otherwise be exposed to it again. Now back in India, I have had it every morning that it has been available, and to my great delight, during the past week that has been every day.

So what is it? The poori, also written puri, is deep fried bread, and the bhaji is a potato curry, sometimes with green peas added (the Udaipur one had green peas, and as a green pea lover, I’m extra happy when I spot this ingredient). The only problem I have had on one or two occasions is that I got a bland version adapted to what is considered to be the average western palate since I had forgotten to say that I wanted it spicy. If you have a chance, do try it! And avoid the bland version.

In Delhi I was fortunate to have an evening food walk with Akshaya, a very knowledgeable student and great guide.

Akshaya brought me to little holes in the wall around one of the busiest places I have ever been to, Chandni Chowk, in Old Delhi.


Over a couple of hours and many stops at stands I wouldn’t ever have had the courage to buy food from on my own, I got to try real delicacies: aloo tikki (a hamburger-shaped potato based dish), samosas (you can see them being prepared here below), different varieties of stuffed parathas (flatbreads), one of which was filled with sweet condensed milk, lassi of course, one with saffron, one with rose, daulat ki chaat (milk and cream fluff with a little saffron added), jalebi (a very sweet pretzel) and kulfi, which is a kind of ice cream – I tried the pomegranate and custard apple varieties. I got very full. And had no digestive problems at all.

Towards the end, but before the kulfi, we sat down for a relaxing cup of milk tea, prepared by this gentleman:

In the course of the evening, we also visited a Sikh temple where the community kitchen serves around 14,000 meals a day, all free, all prepared with donated ingredients.

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