Being someone who loves to dance her way to the kitchen, the whole idea of visiting spice market indeed an exciting one. It was just another Sunday and I decided to venture into these chaotic, super crowded bylanes of Khari Baoli in Old Dilli- Asia’s largest wholesale spice market. Yes the largest in Asia. Khari Baoli literally means – Baoli, meaning step well, and Khari or Khara, meaning salty.
As I walked past all streets, I could get the smell of spice from this 17th century spice market from pretty far and I needed to cover my nose to prevent from sneezing, coughing but it was of no much help. This market has been centre of attraction of this city.
The main foundation of Khari Baoli, located in the old part of the city, adjacent to Fatehpuri Masjid was put by Khwaja Abdullah Laazar Qureshi and this boali was used to bath animals, as the water was salty.
With rickshaws and carts honking all around, you have to make your way in a very tricky zigzag way. As I walked passed this market I saw vendors selling their stuff mostly in wholesale, labours carrying packs of spices on their head and few bargaining to get the best deal – this is how the market looks like in short.
From the common turmeric, to chilli to coriander to cumin the market also sees some exotic spice that are much a rarity otherwise.
Not only does the spice sellers steal the show, but one get to see shops lined with dry fruits like cashewnuts, walnuts, prunes, dried mulberries and dried plums straight from Kashmir, while on the other side there are some day workers sitting and waiting to get some job. The whole charm of this bazar lies in this commotion thats here.
One very distinct thing caught my attention, these age old shops are all numbered like “13 number ki dukan”, 17th number ki dukan” and so on with mostly their 8 or 9th generation running them with equal enthusiam.
The way all spices are organised and kept on display is quite impressive and not to miss that business worth billions happens here. Both ends of this oldest spice market sees – GB road, the whole sale market for engineering goods and Sadar Bazar – the wholesale market for non-branded consumer goods.
I also spotted shops selling Indian wok (kadai), kitchen equipment, spice box and many more. And while roaming around this market if your hunger pangs distract you then look no further but head to Gole di Hatti for some Chole Chawal or Chole Bhature or the famous Giani’s di Hatti for some Kulfi faluda and more delight.
Don’t miss on the Chaina Ram Sindhi Confectioners – the oldest sweet shop in this area. As I braved through these lanes and explored this ancient market, I am still loving the chaotic buzz of the place.
Note – Khari Baoli is opened from 11:30 AM to 6:00 PM on all days except every Sunday