The Chandni Chowk to Chaat Gali festival, put together by the Courtyard by Marriott, brings together the most iconic chaats from Agra and old Dilli
Hundreds of years before New Delhi came to be known as the capital of the Indian subcontinent, the title was held by the city of Agra. The ex-Mughal kingdom is not only home to one of the seven wonders of the world – the Taj Mahal, but also great food. Think juicy iconic Indian and Mughlai dishes, sweets and chaat, all of which you'll find inundating the streets of Sadar Bazaar tat's dotted with little stalls, specialising in a range of sweet and savoury snacks, from a spicy aloo tikki chaat to flavoured kulfi with sweet rabdi.
Given our current predicament, however, it can be understandably daunting to loaf around the streets looking for that perfect, colourful bowl of chaat. Which is why, Chandni Chowk to Chaat Gali, a curated chaat festival at the Courtyard by Marriott in Agra, came as a welcome opportunity to relive those tangy-sweet moments, but within a safe, sanitised and hygienic environment.
Explaining the thought behind putting together this festival, the general manager at the hotel, Sanjeev Tandon told us, "Our aim is to offer a curated experience through local culinary delights that fall in line with the tradition and culture of Agra," adding that the line-up has been designed to offer a personalised experience and help rediscover some of Agra and old Delhi's most popular street snacks. This includes staples like ghee-soaked stuffed parathas, sweet jalebis, kulfi, chana bhatura, dal and kathi rolls, which have been recreated by chef Ramesh Kukreti
We arrived at the venue on a crisp February morning and were instantly taken in by the minimal decor and extensive spread. The festival itself came alive in an outdoor alfresco setting, with live food counters that turned into a stage for the visual theatrics being performed chefs preparing their meals. Our personal favourite was the head chef Kukreti's special, palak ki patte ki chaat, which was served alongside fresh dahi bhallas, sev puri, bhel and papdi chaat, all of which had managed to retain their traditional make-up, while simultaneously offering a fresh twist, in the form of the sauces and presentation.
The delicious chaat spread by chef Ramesh Kukreti
"We curated the festival under our #RediscoverAgra campaign, and the idea is to help give our patrons a holistic and refreshing experience while keeping the diversity of the Agra's food intact," chef Kukreti explained.
After spending a day subsuming the flavours and colours of the chaat festival, we returned to our room and woke up to a leisurely bed and breakfast the next morning, which came amped up with fresh fruits, croissants, juice and soft breads. We ended our day with a satisfying meal at the quiet and stylish poolside dining area. Elaborating on the services available at the property, Tandon added, "The city of love, Agra, evokes a special feeling in our visitors and that's what we're trying to resonate our brand with. We want to help our patrons create long-lasting memories in a safe and sanitised environment."
The poolside dining area at the hotel
The outer facade of the Courtyard by Marriott, Agra
The entrance to the lobby at the hotel
Tandon is right about the city and it undoubtedly exudes an old-world charm. However, it's not just a place that stands testament to one of the greatest declarations of love, but one where art and culture, too, come alive through the elaborate architecture and diverse food juxtaposed against a simple way of life. We'd recommend at least one trip, if you love Indian food, because what better place to experience that than in the city of love?
Equipped with a Master’s degree in Journalism, Tarini is forever questioning everything around her. Headstrong and passionate about the art of storytelling, she is up to date with all things travel, food, beauty, and innovation. When she isn’t out reviewing the newest restaurant, you can find her researching the latest skincare trend or curled up with a book and a cuppa in the farthest corner of the room.