India’s street food represents the culture, diversity and heritage of the country all at once. Indian street food is famous all around the world for its mouth watering delicacies. It is difficult to limit the Indian street food by naming a few famous dishes as each region in the country has its own specialties that they are proud of. The options you get when you walk through Indian roads are practically endless. The street food scene in India has become so essential as it is the food provided are delicious and affordable at the same time. Even though this was started as a means of earning for street side vendors, people from all walks of life love street food in India. Foods at the street offer a vast variety for tourists to understand the cuisine during their travel to different parts of the country.
It is interesting how season plays an important role in the street food scene. During winters batter fried onions, potatoes and chillies (called ‘pakoras’) are served hot with mint chutney and tea. At the same time a north Indian delicacy called ‘Daulat ki chaat’ in Delhi, ‘Malaiyo’ in Varanasi, ‘Malai Makhan’ in Lucknow are provided by vendors in the street throughout winters. Even though it is available in the streets, this is rich sweet as it is prepared by churning cold milk for almost four hours and the cream is sweetened and served with dried fruits and nuts with saffron. This is an airy and light sweet available only during winters. Likewise, in the colder hilly areas of the country, momos and thukpa are famous as they have more influence from Nepal and Tibet in their cuisine.
During summers, refreshing drinks like jaljeera, buttermilk, sweet lassi and colorful iced candies called ‘golas’ would be in demand. One of the most famous street foods called as ‘chaat’ (literally means ‘lick’ in Hindi) is liked by many Indians. Chaats offer many varieties like pani puris which has fried crispy dumplings filled with spicy mashed potatoes and sour and sweet water. Aloo tikki chaat, bhel puri, sev puri are all other examples for a chaat. This offers a balance of sweet, spicy and sour flavor in your palate.
The street food in the northern part of India are different from the southern part. Ideally a person can survive an entire day eating from these stalls as the vendors provide meals from early morning to late in the night. In south India breakfast items like Idli, dosa, vada are famous. Idli and dosa are made from rice batter and offer as a healthy option for breakfast even if bought from the streets. They are served with a popular lentil stew called ‘Sambar’ and a coconut chutney. Vadas are made of lentils and rice and are fried in the shape of donuts.
The choices of food you get in the street cannot be limited to an article or blog on food. You need a lifetime to enjoy the flavors and understand how diverse the cuisine is in India !