Tried and Tasted: Here’s where to have the yummiest aloo tikki & dahi bhalla in Delhi
Natraj Dahi Bhalla Corner in Chandni Chowk is arguably the best known tikki and dahi bhalla seller in town.Updated: Oct 01, 2017 10:19 IST
At a friend’s place the other evening, I had -- after a pretty long time -- some crispy aloo tikki. It was delicious and brought to my mind a small spot in Chandni Chowk that is arguably the best known tikki and dahi bhalla seller in town. So, with the taste of hot tikkis lingering in my mind, I metro-ed it down to Old Delhi one fine afternoon.
The tikki and dahi bhalla counter is called Natraj. It’s easy to locate, for it’s right outside the Chandni Chowk Metro Station. You come out of the station, and walk into a narrow lane. You will find a crowd of people jostling for space in front of a tikki and dahi bhalla seller. That’s Natraj.
The address is 1396, Main Chandni Chowk Road, opposite Parathey Wali Galli and near a Central Bank branch. It’s one of the landmarks of Old Delhi, so if you do get lost, all you have to do is ask.
Unlike other chaat counters in the area – and elsewhere – Natraj sells only two kinds of chaats, aloo tikki and dahi bhalla. In most places you will find that dahi bhallas are kept in a bowl of water. At Natraj, water is squeezed out of the urad dal balls, which are then crushed a bit and kept aside in little donas, almost ready to be served. When you ask for a plate of dahi bhalla, the master assembler takes a dona, sprinkles a secret black masala over it, and then tops it with a dollop of curd and some sweet red chutney. And it’s ready to be eaten.
I love it for five primary reasons. One, because the urad balls have been taken out of the water, they are not mushy, but have a nice, grainy texture which I enjoy. Two, the curd is not sweet, but mildly tart. Three, the chutney is deliciously sweet, which bits of dried date and raisin in it. Four, the masala – which I have been trying to decode for years – is just right, with its heady flavour of cumin, back salt and black pepper. And five, all put together, it’s out of this world.
Likewise, Natrajas’s tikkis are different from the usual ones. The small potato patty is thin on the outer end, which gives it a nice and crispy taste. The midde part is a bit puffy, because that’s where the stuffing – of ground moong dal – is. The tikki is crunchy, and comes with the sweet red chutney, and tart green chutney.
What sets the place apart from other dahi-bhalla and tikki stalls is the fact that Natraj doesn’t add a heap of flavours and spices to its fare. In many places, you will find chickpeas, or boiled potatoes or kachalu adorning tikkis and dahi bhallas. Natraj keeps away from all that, so you get the pure and real taste of a crisp potato patty or the bhalla.
Natraj has been around since 1940. When I first went there, eons ago, it was a hole in the wall. It’s still a hole in the wall, but has expanded vertically. There is a sitting area upstairs now. For families, it says.
My next family outing should be at Natraj’s.
First Published: Oct 01, 2017 10:16 IST