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Bedmi-aloo, nagori-halwa

Bowls of bedmi aloo and nagori halwa from Shyam Sweets in Delhi, India.

What: One of India’s best oddball savory-sweet pairings, and a popular Delhi breakfast (especially in winter), bedmi-aloo and nagori-halwa are two distinct dishes eaten together. The former is the savory part: a puffy, hefty, deep-fried puri-like bread made of wheat flour, spices, and dal, called bedmi, which is served with a spicy aloo sabzi, or potato curry. The latter is nagori, a small, crispy, crumbly puri made with suji (semolina) and ghee, paired with suji halwa, kind of like a sweet, dry porridge likewise cooked in ghee. So what do you do with this stuff? Take a savory bite; take a sweet bite. Some people like to stuff some halwa into a piece of nagori and then dunk that into the aloo before eating. Such mix-and-match flavor combos may challenge your notion of what constitutes a balanced breakfast, but if you’re like us, you’ll welcome it with open arms.

Where: At Shyam Sweets (2326-8087; 112, Chawri Bazaar, map) in Old Delhi, we quickly filled one of the few free-standing tables with bowls of foods. The owner’s son, Bharat, who introduced himself as the fifth generation at Shyam, kept insisting we try more and more things. He didn’t have to twist our arms.

When: Daily, 8am-10pm, but arrive for breakfast lest they run out of anything. Though halwa is more common in winter, Shyam serves it in summer too.

Order: Bedmi-aloo (25 rupees for two pieces) and nagori-halwa (30 rupees for two pieces). The spicy potato curry was draped with green chilies and made with a fenugreek chutney containing, according to Bharat, 17 different spices. The aromatic semolina halwa (pictured at bottom of pic) had a nice light sweetness and the texture of couscous; both puris, different as they are, were delicious. With these we had pickled vegetables and a spectacular pumpkin curry called sitaphal ki sabzi, sweet and sour and spicy at once. Shyam also offers tasty kachoris—we tried the muttar (pea) variety—which pair well with the potato curry. Before rolling ourselves home toward the metro, we washed it all down with a thick malai-topped lassi.

Alternatively: It’s said that these beloved traditional foods just don’t taste the same outside of Old Delhi. Also in that area, we’ve heard good things about sweets shops Makhan Lal Tikkan Ram (1259-60, Bara Bazaar, Kashmere Gate, map), Ram Swaroop (3284, Sitaram Bazaar, map), and Shiv Mishtan Bhandar (375, Kucha Ghasi Ram, Chandni Chowk, map), the latter near Fatehpuri Masjid. 


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