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Chawri Bazar is its own India. One step into the market, colors, sounds and smells magnify in intensity. The narrow streets pulse with stories. Every vignette springs from chaos; every movement catches your eye; every person is eager to tell you something.

The food looks and smells seductive: Sweets decorated with flowers, steaming curries, deep-fried delights all tempt you as you pass by.

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Photo 1: A man sells pre-cut home-baked bread.
Photo 2: Entrance to Chawri Bazar

In Old Delhi, eating street food is a daring choice, especially on the streets of Chawri Bazar, where the digestive distress known as Delhi Belly is a common experience among foreigners. Best to let your eyes do the tasting and your nose the testing. Pastries, curries and fresh mutton qorma are there for takers—but when your local friends won't sample the street offerings, the advice is to follow suit.


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Photo 1: Bowls of grain and nuts line the market stands.
Photo 2: Fresh-baked naan and mutton qorma.
Photo 3: One stand full of spices and nuts.
Photo 4: Blocks of ice for sale on the back of a bicycle.

Spices, nuts and grains ... these few of Chawri Bazar's offerings we can indulge in without risking Delhi Belly. The visual beauty and memorable smells of cardamom seeds, fresh saffron, turmeric, salts of every color and peppers are a few treasures I stowed away in my suitcase for special gifts to family and friends. Cinnamon to nibble on, make tea from or cook with were much more fun to hand out to friends back home than some typical touristy gift.

The smell, the taste and especially the feel of India came home with me.

Mimi Giboin is a food, interiors, lifestyle and travel photographer splitting her time between San Francisco, New York and Paris. She loves to spend times in Sacramento visiting family and scouting out the exploding local food culture.

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Barfi and Kesar Peda, traditional Indian sweets.