The omelette maker of Delhi

Writing about Kamala Harris reminded me of this video I had waiting in the wings. It’s about an old man who sells omelettes (an “omelette walla”) in Delhi, a place I love. And the video also exemplifies many of the things I love about India: the dedication to one’s work and one’s family, the persistence—and cheerfulness—in the face of adversity, and, of course, the love of good food. It also calls up the grinding poverty of the country, something that one must come to terms with if one is to visit. If you go to India, you will either vow never to return or will want to keep coming back. I’m definitely in the latter group.

Do watch this 7½-minute video about Balbir Singh, who sells omelettes outside a metro stop in Delhi. Although there are footnotes, I adore the lovely lilt of Hindi. Note that, like many educated Indians, the narrator speaks a mixture of Hindi and English.

By the way, the price of an omelette or half fry, 50 rupees, is about 67 U.S. cents. (“Ghee” is clarified butter.)  I hope I get back to Delhi soon, as I want to try Singh’s eggs. Make mine a half fry!

If you love the food of India, Curly Tales has a lot of videos about it. Have a look at this one, featuring pre-Independence food joints that are still around. I’ve been to three of the 15 featured in that video: the Parsee place in Mumbai, Karim’s in Delhi, and Glenary’s in Darjeeling (a remnant of the Raj; the food is British and not that great).

Now I’m really hungry!


  1. C.
    Posted August 16, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    That was beautiful. I don’t mind admitting I got a bit teary-eyed watching it.

  2. jezgrove
    Posted August 16, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    A dedicated man making the most of a sad life, and much appreciated by his regular customers it seems.

  3. Joe Routon
    Posted August 16, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    As someone who has traveled to India several times, sampling its food all over, and who is on a life-long quest to make the perfect omelette, I thoroughly enjoyed this.

  4. GBJames
    Posted August 16, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I think I’ll go with the half fry, too!

  5. Glenda Palmer
    Posted August 16, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Heartwarming story about sadness and survival. … plus ingenuity and good food. I imagine I can smell the street food in India now. Also when I think of the parts of India I was fortunate enough to see I remember colour – colour everywhere.

  6. James Walker
    Posted August 16, 2020 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    I have never been to India but it’s on my bucket list!

  7. Posted August 17, 2020 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    I visited India 10 years ago and I completely agree–it seems you love or hate it. I totally loved it and look forward to visiting again some time. I even visited Bangladesh shortly after which is another head-trip.
    D.A.,J.D., NYC

  8. Posted August 17, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this. He reminds me of people I’ve known of all nations who face adversity and don’t give up. And don’t complain. May it teach me to achieve more of his behavior, and to do much less complaining.

  9. hazur
    Posted August 17, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I highly recommend the series ‘Street Food’ from Netflix, so far there are 6 episodes from Latin America and 6 from Asia, most of them excellent, with a great mix of stories and food.

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