Spices are an essential part of Indian cooking. In all households and restaurants, it is absolutely impossible to consume any Indian traditional food without the spices.
The important spices used as ingredients in Indian recipes are cumin seeds or powder, turmeric powder, cinnamon, coriander seeds or powder, mustard seeds, red chillis, cloves, cardamom and many more. They add a special aroma and flavor to the dishes.
Khari Baoli – The Largest Spice Market In Asia
The old spice market in Delhi is said to have started in the 17th century. The word “Khari” means salty and the word “Baoli” means a step well. The meaning hence portrays the salty step well used for bathing and for animals. The step well in Khari Baoli was built by Khwaja Abdullah Laazar Qureshi during the era of Islam Shah, who was the Sher Shah Suri’s son. The place has been named after it, though now the step well doesn’t exist. It is buried under the main road of the market.
Few shops in the market have still retained the old historic and traditional names like the 15 Number ki Dukaan, Chawal Vale 13, 21 number ki Dukaan, etc. Each and every shop represent a historical significance, with the trades being carried out by families of 9th or 10th generations.
The market is situated on the Khari Baoli road near the historic Red Fort in Delhi and adjacent to Fatehpur Sikri.
Traders from different parts of India like Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh crowd the spice market for deals and purchase.
How to reach
The best way to reach the market is to avail the Delhi Metro. The nearest station is Chandni Chowk along the Yellow Line and then you need to follow the exit towards Khari Baoli. It is almost a 20 to 25 mins walk down the lane.
Best time to visit
The market operates from 10 AM to 8 PM every day except Sundays. The best season to visit is during the winter from November to February. In the summer it is better to visit in the evening to avoid the grueling heat of the sun in Delhi.
It is quite amazing to watch the capacity of the market displaying huge quantities of innumerable varieties of spices. Some are exotic, some are local, some are in powdered form whereas some are in seed form. You will be accompanied by a rich smell as you walk along with the market.
The market looks quite splendid with spices of vibrant colours adorning the marketplace. From far Afghanistan to the local Kashmir, dried fruits like prunes, mulberries, plums occupy a special place in the market. The common Indian spices including the herbs, grains, salt, nuts, chillies and even lentils, rice, tea, pickles, makhanas, papads are almost available in the myriad of shops inside the market.
It is a treat to the eyes to experience the wonderful view of the market lined with numerous shops. The shops are stocked with spices in sacks or saucers or bowls or jars. The wholesale dealers display the price tags on each container which makes it easy for the bargains and deals.
Along with the spices, ingredients for preparing sweet delicacies also occupy a substantial amount of place in the market. Different grades of khoya and jaggery are sold in many shops in huge quantities. Some shops even sell Ayurvedic medicines and herbs along with the spices.
The most renowned shop in the market is Mehar Chand and Sons. It has been established almost 99 years back in 1917. It is said to sell the best quality spices, herbs, tea, dry fruits, and tea.
Every day thousands of traders arrive at the market for purchasing spices from the wholesalers. There are strict rules followed by both the trading parties. Even if chaotic but at the end of the day the bargains are done smoothly and in a highly organized fashion. Generally, the spices are sold by weight and the prices are marked hence there are not many complexities of the bargain.
Though it’s a wholesale market people can also pick up small quantities of spices and other products for their household needs. You can also watch enthusiastic photographers clicking on their cameras at the myriad colours of the spices.
Khari Baoli with its own grandeur of magnificence is a worth a visit offering an intense aroma to fill up our senses.