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Lived there for three years, but haven't been since 2007. Agra is awful (I know, the Taj, but I've seen it at sunrise, I've seen it by the light of the full moon, etc. and the last time I went, someone stole my shoes...), but Delhi has lots to offer. Be sure to go to the crafts museum and for a fun shopping/eating excursion, go to Dilli Haat. Lots of small spaces they rent to a revolving range of crafts people, so there's always something new and interesting. The food stalls are from the different regions, so you can do a whole tour of india in one place! Be sure to try a Maaza (a mango drink) and a Thumbs Up ( a local Cola), just for the fun of doing so. Try chaat (street snacks) and chai on the street (don't worry about food safety on that, they boil the hell out of it) so you can see what it really is (and it ain't that stuff they sell at Starbucks). If you have time, make a pilgrimage to Roopak Stores for spices. This was (and I imagine still is) THE top spice store in Delhi. Unbelievable quality, including fantastic kashmiri saffron that will put to shame anything you've ever had. Eat local. The biog hotels have some good restaurants, but there's some great little joints as well. Sagar used to be a good south indian in Defence Colony. Need to run, but If I think of anything else, I'll post.
I just got back from there yesterday! Go to Indiana in Agra, be sure to get their masala chai. In Delhi, don't miss Karim's. Go to roopak's in the Karol bagh market for great, well packaged and super cheap spices.
Rule of thumb is to stick to hot, cooked food and avoid anything raw. As for Delhi, this food tour is renowned http://delhifoodadventure.... Also here is a great photoblog about the food of 'old Delhi' http://bluecabbage.blogspot.... Finally another good introduction to Delhi is found here http://thedelhiwalla.com/
For some reason my links don't seem to work so here they are again http://bluecabbage.blogspot...
friends swear by taking daily acidopholus(sp) And start that routine a few weeks before you leave. it's to get your intestines in shape and keep them that way- vis a vis all the new bacteria they are going to encounter. Also, if you happen upon some wicked hot food, raw cabbage is the best thing. (NOT liquid.)
Go to Chandni chowk for dry snacks for the original brand Haldiram's, try their Jalebis fried in pure ghee it is sweet, "Dahi Bhalle" deep fried dumpling over curd from Natraj, have lots of chaats, Bikaner Sweet shop for "Rasmalai", do visit paranthewali gali (stuffed flatbreads street), Rabri Falooda from Gianji's falooda, and my dad used to bring a sweet delicacy known as Son Papdi also from Delhi..try to have nimbu soda from the street vendors, beware of pick-pocketers and while visiting temples don't wear fancy footwear..as we remove them before entering, they could be stolen. Moreever, enjoy your trip!
Definitely Roopak stores,
As much as I'd head straight for the street foods, especially more so since nowadays they've taken to using UV filtered water, it is playing russian roulette. Agra is known for its 'Petha' , basically candied winter melon. (Dirt candy like you've never seen before) simply out of this world. Pick up some for friends & family, If you want to to taste some of the Indianized pizza's Pizza hut has some pretty yummy offerings. Yes, do try the streetside Chai, Revdi & Gajak, 2 winter offerings may still be in season, its basically a cross between sesame brittle/ and the Israeli 'Halva' . Gajar Halva, (Carrot sticky pudding, almost 'confit' in decadent ghee) is another speciality.
If you are keen on sampling local foods, try 'Roshan di kulfi' on Ajmal Khan rd in Karol bagh.
Ah, Panfusine, the memories...
When Pizza Hut and Dominoes opened, it was fabulous. Phone and a short time later a polite young man arrives and says, "Here's your fresh hot pizza, Sir!" And it was! I think sometimes we'd order one just to experience the efficiency, though I have to admit, paneer and chilli on a pizza is a remarkable innovation.
And gajak! We'd get from the now defunct Royal Sweets in Jor Bagh. I'd soften some of the plain Mother Dairy ice cream and make my own gajak ice cream. Oh, heaven! Because dairy in India is/was a blend of buffalo and cow milk, the fat content of the dairy products was twice what you're used to in the US. Whole milk is about 6%, vs the 3% you get in the US. And the ice cream...well you could just feel the fat coating your lips...
I was in Delhi for about two months years ago on a gap year. Unfortunately as a teenager traveling by myself I didn't have the means to check out too many restaurants, but it really didn't make much of a difference because you can get so much great food for so little. Ask locals. Drink lots of chai. And I second the comment to go to Dilli Haat - also check out the little craft stalls that you will find in many parts of the city. Enjoy!
Thank you all for really wonderful suggestions! I hope to take advantage of many of them!
Consider trying Indian Chinese food at some point - I thought it one of the best variants on Chinese food that I have tried (outside of China!). Also, if you do get sick (which of course you will not) Indian medications for stomach complaints are some of the most effective on the planet.
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