10 Best Street Foods Of India
India is a food-lover’s paradise when it comes to eating on the go. Reshma Kulkarni explores some of the famous street foods of India
One of the many joys of travelling in India, apart from the monuments, colourful festivals, variety of cultures, people and shopping, is the extensive food options available on every street corner. From the succulent momos of the East, to the fiery-hot vada pav of the West, from the tangy chaat of the North, to the fluffy idlis of the South, there’s such a feast to be had! Here we present some of the most popular street foods that India has to offer. Go ahead, chomp on!
#1 Vada pav, Mumbai
Also known as the ‘Indian burger’, the vada pav remains the pride and joy of Mumbai. Comprising of a spicy ball made of mashed boiled potatoes and spices rolled in a paste of gram-flour and deep fried, the vada is sandwiched between a white-bun, or pav, and liberally slathered with spicy and sweet tamarind chutneys. Available in South India, where it is called ‘bonda’, the vada pav remains a more popular version. If you prefer something more modern, try the Schezwan vada pav or a cheese vada pav.
#2 Idli, Dosa and Punukulu, Andhra Pradesh
Walk around the bustling city streets in Andhra Pradesh and you won’t be able to resist the simple yet divine fragrance of piping hot idlis, crisp dosas and crunchy punukulus. Idlis and dosas are made from a batter mixture of rice and urad daal,while punukulu, is made from a mixture of leftover dosas and idli batter.
Served by street vendors all over AP, especially in the interiors, you’ll find stalls on rickety carts early in the morning on which they conduct business till stocks last, which is usually until noon. Breakfast-lovers can treat themselves to fresh-off-the-tava dosas or steaming-hot idlis, accompanied by spicy coconut chutney and potato curry or sambar.
#3 Kottu Parotta, Chennai
While Chennai is synonymous with humble delights like dosa, idlis and bondas, its busy streets also throw up spicy, rich delights like the kottu parotta. Borrowed from the culinary influence of close-neighbour, Sri Lanka, kottu parotta is made by chopping parottas (flattened bread), and mixing it with various vegetables, eggs and curry. It may also contain chicken/mutton pieces. The mixture is sautéed on a piping-hot tavas and beaten with typical South Indian steel tumblers till it turns into a fine mince. It is then served on a banana leaf with a generous topping of coriander for added flavour.
#4 Egg Rolls, Kolkata
The City of Joy brings exactly that with every bite of the flaky egg rolls available on street carts in Kolkata. Best enjoyed piping hot and crisp, the rolls are made by frying a crisp paratha (thin wheat pancake) and placing it on a not-fully-cooked spicy omelette. Garnished with onions, cucumbers, lemon juice and black pepper, it is then expertly rolled into a cylinder, wrapped in paper and handed to hungry customers. Tomato sauce or spicy green chutneys complete the experience.
#5 Daabeli, Ahmedabad
Tracing its origins to Kutch, the kachchi/Kutchi dabeli as it is locally known, is the Gujarati version of vada pav. Made by stuffing a tangy, sweet n’ spicy potato cutlet inside a bun, the dabeli is also a treat for the eyes with its colourful garnish of pomegranate seeds, coriander, fried peanuts and yellow sev. The secret to the tastiest dabeli lies in the spice mix—the red chillies, cloves and coriander seeds in the cutlet; the red garlic chutney applied to the bun; and the tamarind chutney. The buns are fried to crunchy perfection in melted butter, making for a lip-smacking treat!
#6 Momos, Darjeeling/Sikkim
This tasty, steamed dumpling has travelled from Nepal, all the way to Delhi and Patna, making its presence felt as a popular street food. Momos are made from white flour, shaped into small dumplings and filled with minced meat of lamb or yak. They can be steamed, or fried. In its more modern avatar, the momo is also available with vegetables, paneer, potato and mawa stuffing. All versions are served with tomato chutney.
#7 Kulchas, Jammu
When in Jammu, there’s no better way to beat the chilling cold than to bite into a tasty, hot kulcha. ‘Kulchawalas’ dot the narrow streets of Jammu in hordes, and bring forth an exquisite array of these stuffed pancakes. The kulchas come with various stuffings (apart from the ubiquitous potatoes) such as paneer, soya chunks and chick-peas. The mixture is made even more temping with a liberal sprinkling of finely chopped onions, tomatoes and generous toppings of mint and chilly chutney that makes it a perfectly heart-warming snack for winter. The emperor of all kulchas, however, is the kalari kulcha, made from one of the finest cheeses you can find—the maish krej (kalari cheese). The maish krej remains Jammu’s best kept secret yet!
#8 Pohe-Jalebi, Indore
Not a very oft-mentioned destination in the list of street foods, Indore nevertheless holds a scrumptious secret in its folds. The best way to begin the day in this erstwhile royal city is by digging into a bowlful of sunny, delicious pohe made of flattened rice sautéed in turmeric, chillies and onions. Served with a dash of lime, the pohe are made more irresistible with a topping of onions, sev, boondi and coriander. Accompanied with a cup of humble but strong tea, the dish is best polished off with a side-dish of freshly-fried piping hot jalebis.
#9 Chorizo Pao, Goa
While Goa remains a perennial favourite for its seafood and beer sold at seaside shacks, don’t miss this unique Spanish-Portuguese delicacy of chorizo pao, sold by street-side vendors in Goa. There are two versions of chorizo pao—one, where the chorizo (pork sausage) is rolled into a warm bun and served with seasoning; and the second, more elaborate one, where the chorizo is minced, cooked with onions, potatoes, tomato and green chillies, till it becomes a thick gravy. It is then served with warm rolls or buns. Either way, it’s the only way to get under the skin of Goa!
#10 Kachoris, Rajasthan
The desert-land of India is renowned for having invented some of the tastiest culinary delights despite. One of the many, include almost 52 varieties of kachoris—a crisp, fried flattened cutlet made from dough stuffed with various fillings. Some of the most popular kachoris include the pyaaz kachori and khasta kachori. Pyaaz kachori, as the name suggests, is made from gram flour and onions; whereas khasta kachoris are made from urad daal (black lentils) mixed with spices. However, the king of all Kachoris remains the raj kachori, where the flattened cutlet are opened from one side and stuffed with sprouts, boiled potatoes, brown chickpeas, papdi and lots of thick, delicious yogurt. The dish is garnished with pomegranate seeds, chopped onion and corn to resemble a dish befitting a king!