Nine Indian street foods you have to try

Nine Indian street foods you have to try

Want to taste India’s best food? Then hit the streets.

Words by Ute Junker

Photo Nishaan Ahmed via Unsplash

When I first went to India more than two decades ago, I had a dozen different kinds of culture shock. Among the things that really startled me was the sight of people cooking and eating on the footpath. I assumed that only people too poor to have other options would want to eat food that was prepared in the middle of the hustle and bustle, pedestrians pushing past on one side while the traffic snarled on the other.

Since then, my multiple visits have taught me a lot about India, not least the fact that there is nothing remarkable about eating on the street, given that this is a country where all of life happens on the street.

I’ve also learned a lot about street food, most importantly that it is often some of the best food in town. I’ve grown to love the ritual of grabbing a seat at a chai counter, sipping away as I get immersed in the theatre of the streets. And I’ve become addicted to the flavour-packed, fresh-from-the-pan morsels that exemplify street food at its best.

There is no reason to be afraid of eating street food, if you follow a few common-sense rules. Buy from the places that the locals are buying from– that’s the good stuff. And avoid uncooked sauces which have probably been made with tap water – that is one risk not worth taking.

So here is an incomplete list of some of my favourite street foods. Some you will find served in restaurants as well as on the street but for the truly authentic experience, you want to scoff it down while standing on the pavement.

Aloo chat Cubed potatoes fried up and served with chutney and a range of spices that change depending which city you are in. You will find this one all over India, and it’s delicious everywhere you go.

Kathi rolls One of my favourite things to eat in Kolkata (Calcutta), the kathi roll wraps a paratha flatbread around juicy roast kebab meat. This is one I am happy to eat in a restaurant, but only if that restaurant is Nizam’s in New Market.

Kothu parotta If you have been to Sri Lanka you will have encountered a variation of this dish, but  the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu claims it as their speciality. Wherever you eat it, this chopped-up flatbread tossed with onions, tomatoes, eggs, and spices is delicious.

Kachori Like aloo chat, this is another dish with plenty of regional variations. Depending on where you are, this fried puffed pastry can be stuffed with dal, potatoes, onions and peas.

Choris pao Goa’s Portuguese influence is on show in this sandwich stuffed with spicy pork sausage. Popular both in the morning and the evening, think of it as an Indian reinvention of sausage roll.

Jhal muri Puffed rice cooked in an assortment of spices: think savoury rice bubbles and you have a good idea for what’s in store. I’ve also munched on a similar snack of spicy cornflakes, which was just as good.

Bombay duck Yes, you will find it in Bombay (Mumbai) but no, it has no duck meat in it. Instead, this battered treat contains fish in a curry sauce, so it’s crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.

Bhelpuri Sweet, salty and spicy at the same time, bhelpuri – puffed rice teamed with onion, tomato and a number of different chutneys – is an explosion of flavours.

Dosa This is one of the essential south Indian dishes, and it’s one of the hardest to resist. These crispy rice flour pancakes, stuffed with spicy potato, are the taste of the south.

Previous PostNext Post