My relationship with Delhi Haat is a long one filled with childhood memories and everlasting charm.I used to visit Delhi Haat as a little girl every Sunday evening with mum and dad to enjoy some Momos and Thukpa from the ‘Arunachal Pradesh’ Stall. As I grew older, I found my self drifting apart from this space until I so happened to have pursue my Undergrad degree from LSR leading to myself coming here very, very often. Delhi Haat is a space where one can pass time for hours without really doing anything concretely.
It opened as an aircraft bazaar and food plaza run by Delhi tourism and transportation development corporation (DTTDC) in 1994. The idea was pretty simple and it was that this space should break even for government and provide a marketing platform and better incomes and livelihood for small craft producers. Crafts persons were to have the opportunity of engaging directly with customers, getting a fair price, acquiring the confidence to compete in a city.
Delhi Haat is definitely a place that screams out defining itself as quintessentially Indian. For having been established by the government, it does ensure that its antithetical to anything ‘Western’ or mall like. There are tons of stalls each show casing the ‘best out of the best’ of Pashmina Shawls from Kashmir, Chanderi Sarees from Madhya Pradesh or Phulkari Duppattas from Punjab. Other than going to the State Emporiums, Delhi Haat is one space in this city where you can find anything and everything Indian- handicrafts, rugs, fabrics, leather pieces, puppets. You name it and youll find it.
Being a self proclaimed food, I love going back to Delhi Haat and trying out the different state food stalls that it has. My favorite food stall is hands down ‘Nagaland’. I used to love going to Arunchal Pradesh stall called ‘Momo Mia’ for its Momos and still do occasionally, but the Nagaland stall really does satiate my hunger pangs. The grilled fish at Bijoli Grill is almost a part of my guilt pleasure list. Last time I visited Delhi Haat, we ordered the Pork Ribs, Fried Chicken Momos, Steamed Veg Momos, Chicken Fried Rice, Chilly Chicken and their ever so famous Fruit Beer.The pork ribs are by far one the nicest I’ve had and even though Delhi Haat is not known for it’s consistency in food quality and flavour, these pork ribs are cooked to perfect each time I visit. The other items were as good as it gets, filled with flavour and authencity. The food is not extremely cheap as one would imagine it to be but it is surely great value for money.
Delhi Haat is definitely something far beyond just a market place for it not only reinforces the bazaar culture but also satisfies that constant need for humans feeling connected to their soil. It’s that space where you will relive your culture, simply by eating the food that you have eaten all your childhood cooked by your grandmother or by buying that little puppet wall hanging for your room. It is surely a part of the State’s constant effort to in a way bind us into ‘one imagined community’ and creating a ‘Mini India’. There are no doubts that most of the items are overly priced where one may be cheated if one doesn’t haggle, but then I can’t deny that it does cheer me up for whenever I have visited and revisited it.
For me, more than the food or the overpriced goods, Delhi Haat is a space where I feel like a little girl tugging around my dad’s arms for my weekly momo treat. It’s about the little pink elephant wall hangings and the junk jewelry that I used when I became older. It’s about the retro boom box, the patang wala and the potters that give it life ; a sense of continuity.