Foodie-in-Chief Anubhav Sapra is an alumni of the University of Delhi. He is also the person you’ll find exploring and trying the flavours of the streets of Delhi. Like every hostel student, his yearning for ghar ka khaana poked his inner foodie to set out on food exploration expeditions. Soon enough, he transformed into a guide and a repository of street food destinations.
The foodie in him was born long back while he was still in high school, and that foodie soul is now indefatigable. It is fairly evident when you sit for a conversation with him. You have no choice but to be inspired by his knowledge of street food and his expertise of the authentic taste of Delhi, surpassed only by the passion he emanates when he talks about his venture, Delhi Food Walks (DFW).
A photo posted by #delhifoodwalks (@delhifoodwalks) on May 26, 2015 at 9:53pm PDT
Now when we think of it, Delhi’s food scene can be divided into two parts–Pre-DFW and Post-DFW.
Post DFW, Delhiites call themselves foodies and embrace their love for food. Post DFW, streets have become a Pandora’s box for foodies. Post DFW, people venture into hitherto unexplored lanes to savor the delectable authentic Indian food. Post DFW, the spices and flavors of Delhi’s streets have become our comfort foods.
The foodie community is just as indebted to DFW for this unique idea as the street vendors from every nook and corner of the city whose preparations (in some cases recipes that have passed along generations), are now getting the attention they have deserved for so long.
A photo posted by #delhifoodwalks (@delhifoodwalks) on Nov 16, 2014 at 5:31am PST
And yet, the foodie-in-chief, the founder, the one-man army, Anubhav is humble enough not to boast about either the tremendous success of DFW, or how he manages it all himself. As he explores, he lets the success of DFW and the smiles of the vendors and food walk participants do the talking.
Here’s our tête-à-tête with Anubhav Sapra:
Spoon: Take us back in time when it all began!
Anubhav: It started in 2010. I was exploring the lanes of Paharganj. And I used to blog about it back then on a blog called Street Food of Delhi. I discovered and wrote about dishes that were unheard of, like Geela Kulcha and Moong dal ke samose. So a friend of mine suggested me to put my knowledge and time to good use, and it all began with me creating a facebook event, in response to which 30 people turned up–all Delhiites. The concept was liked and admired, which led me to conduct walks every Sunday at different places. Hardly have the same food trails been repeated.
So things got organised in 2011, Delhi food walks was christened to its present name. It was registered and the trademark was secured.
A photo posted by Spoon University – Delhi (@spoon_du) on Mar 17, 2015 at 10:35am PDT
Spoon: What all places and themes are covered in the food walks?
Anubhav: Initially, for a while, we celebrated the cultural variety of India along with the respective food walks. For the month of Ramadan we had Iftar and Sehri walks, for the Parsi new year, I tied up with Paris Anjuman, next came Durga Pooja at CR park, followed by Onam. Expanding from festival days and Sundays, in 2013, I created the website as it is today, and conducted food walks everyday. I started offering two categories of walks–community food walks and customized ones. There have been a lot of takers for the customized ones. For someone coming from a country like Australia, Germany, USA, it is an amazing experience to eat with the locals. There have even been instances of foreigners celebrating events like birthdays and anniversaries through food walks.
A photo posted by #delhifoodwalks (@delhifoodwalks) on Apr 18, 2015 at 8:23am PDT
Spoon: How do you manage everything at DFW, like, EVERYTHING? Not to mention how well DFW has started doing in a short span of time.
Anubhav: It has been a lot of hit and trial. For example, I redesigned my website for the 5th time to get it right.
And as for how DFW grew at the pace at which it did, I’d say it is out of my passion for food and consistency. I have never cancelled a food walk, not even when just two people turned up.
Spoon: When did you realize that food was your one true love?
Anubhav: My passion for food really got ignited when I left home to stay in a hostel and desperately began to miss my mother’s kitchen wizardry. I missed her food that I ventured to discover the local markets while I was in Dehradun, the most clear memory being that of Bun Noodles and momos (that hadn’t arrived in Delhi till then). In 2011, I started to explore the by-lanes and back-alleys of Delhi, to explore its food culture. Away from the posh restaurants with flashy hoardings and over-priced international cuisine, I wanted to find places which embodied the spirit of Delhi.
I even persuaded her to open a place to sell the pickles that she prepares.
A photo posted by #delhifoodwalks (@delhifoodwalks) on Apr 18, 2015 at 2:32am PDT
Spoon: Do you have any preferences in food?
Anubhav: I love street food and especially Old Delhi’s. Because that’s the authentic taste and flavour.
Spoon: Do you like cooking as much as you relish eating?
Anubhav: Yes, I do. I cook and experiment with a lot of non-vegetarian food. I have a favourite shop for spices. I keep experimenting with the different spices I buy.
A photo posted by #delhifoodwalks (@delhifoodwalks) on May 24, 2015 at 11:44pm PDT
Spoon UDelhi: What surprises await foodies? What’s next?
Anubhav: DFW will be working on a couple of books, and I am planning to expand to different states, probably some cities in Kerala, Kolkata and Amritsar. Because there will always be a yearning in people to eat with the locals.