Enjoying the spices of life

By Ashley Hanger:

Teetering on the back of a rickshaw is the only way to explore Old Delhi’s hidden marvels.

Tarps and tents stretch as far as the eye can see, assembling Delhi’s oldest spice market, Khari Baoli, a mere 400 years young.

Fifth-generation master tea blender Anshu Kumar is the proud owner of Mehar Chand & Sons, supplying whole spices and custom ground blends since 1917. The quaint showroom of herbs and teas boasts a number of international celebrity guests, such as Masterchef judge George Calombaris.

Roots and spices lined the walls of Kumar’s den, warming the dark crevices with their vibrant hues.

Locals shovel green grains and fermented fruit with routine precision, glancing over the numbered boards that speak to their instinctive knowledge, wrinkling the brows of white-skinned onlookers.

Locals shovel green grains and fermented fruit with routine precision, glancing over the numbered boards that speak to their instinctive knowledge, wrinkling the brows of white-skinned onlookers.

Snakes of dried figs curl between the bowls of varying textures.

A spice that leaves their victims in agonising pain, in some cases causing death, the Bhut Jolokia, or Ghost Chilli, ranks as the world’s hottest chilli soaring to 1,000,000 Schoville units. I only dared a sniff of the red pepper, the meaty, spicy smell that burned my nostrils a warning to the deadly seeds hidden within.

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