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A mini-Guide to Indian Street Food

Indian cuisine is amongst the most varied in the entire World. Not only that, but India has an alarming variety of quality street food, which varied from region to region and city to city. Considering that India spans 3000 kilometres from North to South and almost as much from East to West, that makes for very extensive street food, utilizing a baffling degree of ingredients. Here is a mini guide broken down in just the four directions to get you better acquainted with India’s culinary treats available on the streets!

North India

  • Chaat: The first and foremost of North India’s street foods is chaat. Originating from Uttar Pradesh, Chaat is exclusively vegetarian fare comprising dishes like Aloo Tikki, Golgappa, Panipuri and Dahi Badas. The bedrock is these dishes is an excellent tamarind chutney, well-battered curd and cumin! Simple, yet tasty, Chaat is enjoyed all across India.
  • Halwai Food: Halwai is a vendor of snacks and sweets. Under this umbrella term, we can cover items like Samosa, Kachori and Pakodas. Samosas are a tasty flour dumpling filled with a spicy and tangy potato filling and then deep fried. Kachori is much the same, save the filling is usually lentils and Pakodas are either a manner of vegetable or ‘paneer’ which are encased in a batter and then deep fried. All of these have tremendous regional variations.

West India

  • Paav Bhaaji: Originally made to serve the need of extremely fast food to serve the industrial workers in Mumbai looms, Paav bhaaji has now been adopted by India as a whole. This simple, yet tasty dish consists of a myriad of vegetable which are boiled and then mashed and cooked on a huge open pan with a combination of spices. The important thing is the consistency of the dish which is maintained by the expertise of its chef. Paav is a special bread which goes complimentary with the Bhaaji. Numerous regional variation of this dish are created.
  • Wada Paav: Easily India’s answer to the burger, this all-vegetarian fare dominates the state of Maharashtra when it comes to street food. A potato patty deep fried encased in an Indian bun called the Paav. Goes well with fried green chillies. Simple and elegant.

East India

  • Momo: Momos have now fast become a street food available all across India. Popularised by the numerous Tibetans seeking refuge in India, this food was initially limited only to the Northeast and to Bengal. Now it is everywhere with speciality stalls that sell nothing else. The filling can be vegetarian, chicken or mutton and if you happen to be in the Northeast, then they add pork in it too. Sold either steamed or fried, it goes really well with a spicy sauce made from ground red chillies.
  • Frankie: A Frankie is a roll made out of Indian flatbread, the chapati, and filled with virtually any filling that one can think of. From curry to kebabs, a Frankie is only limited by imagination and the region it finds itself in. Almost a staple across India, Frankies have grown a lot and indeed there are many speciality restaurants that sell nothing else than the humble Frankie in all its hundreds of avatars!

South India

South India is a literal treasure trove of street food specializing in the selling of Idli, Dosa, Uttapam and Wada. All of these are made with a mixture of ground rice and lentils and are extremely healthy to boot. They are sold with a tasty ‘daal’ called Sambhar, the preparation of which is as much tradition and it is conjecture. Along with it, there is a tangy coconut chutney and occasionally a fiery ‘red’ chutney too.

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