Ten Cities to Sample Street Food in India
We, as a nation, have mastered the art of gastronomy. We can’t think or act well if we don’t eat well. And foodies have only one definition of The Hunger Games. Street food is basically entrée eaten outdoors. In these times of fast food and slow digestion, nearly all our activities revolve around food.
India is undoubtedly a heaven for people who love and live for food. Hot and spicy street food is like a bite-size bundle of joy. Not that it discourages us but, street food and hygiene are two peas in a pod. There is something divine about street food which tempts us to toss away even the notion of owning a diet plan or eating in fast food restaurant chains.
Many connoisseurs go out on weekend trips or day trips to have culinary adventures along with other experiences and come back with lingering after-taste. Even during shopping, our insatiable craving trumps anything else. From Idali in Karnataka to Iromba in Manipur, here’s a shout-out to top ten destinations in India to whet your appetite.
Streets in Old Delhi are immensely popular for succulent kababs, greesy paranthas, crispy golgappas, syrupy jalebis, and lip-smacking chaat. Influenced by North Indian cuisine such as chhole bhature and rajma chawal, the capital city offers more than one can put on their plate.
Besides the legendary Chandni Chowk, one shouldn’t miss the variety of delights at dhabas under metro lines, roadside stalls in Connaught Place, regional stalls in several Delhi Haat and a julienne of paranthas in Purani Dilli.
The City of Joy is known for tasty and surprisingly cheaper street food. From ubiquitous kathi rolls and jhalmuri to Bengali sweets like mouthwatering rasgullas and sandesh, Kolkata offers a list of never-ending culinary delights. The fiery jhaalmuri and scrumptious puchkas will spice up your palate, while hilsa and bhetki fish will only fuel your appetite more. Mutton chops, a variety of cutlets and rolls are other must-try foods while you’re wandering around Park Street or New Market.
The capital of UP brings forth several food options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Want to devour a dish à la King? Head to Lucknow. Like a ‘nawab’ with some ‘adab’, nibble on the delectable galouti kebabs, kormas and sheermaal. Tunde ke kebab with minced lamb and the famous biryani is what the Chowk in Hazratgunj area is quintessentially known for. Don’t forget to sample malaaidar kulfis and sweet Banarasi paan later. The city is considered an epicentre of Nawabi and Awadhi cuisine, and thus a mecca for meat-eaters.
There are two known nemeses (monsoon and BMC trucks) of street food vendors in Mumbai and two favourite ingredients, garlic and onions. Mumbai is all about finding space, so anything you can fit inside a paav is edible. Doughy vadapav (the Indian version of burger) with ginger-rich masala tea (forget Starbucks) is a stable street food in Mumbai. Satisfy your taste buds along the well-known Juhu Chowpatty Beach or fill up your belly in at Nariman Point while watching the sunset. Besides the notable actor Amrish Puri, the city is famous for panipuri, bhelpuri, sevpuri, dahipuri and ragda pattice. Misal Pav is another popular meal that will definitely soothe your palate.
After the Golden Temple and the Wagah Border, Amritsar is renowned as a foodie’s delight. Between Amritsari kulchas and a glassful of lassi, Amritsar has a delectable spread of Punjabi offerings. The city swarms with street-side vendors who prepare makke di roti with sarson da saag or maah ki dal. For the non-vegetarians, chicken tikka, butter chicken, and mutton chaap are must-have dishes. Gajar ka halwa and lassi (with Kesar on top) – for which the city is a benchmark – can put any French crème brûlée to shame.
The city of Nizams gratifies with an exquisite array of flavoursome treats like no other city in India. The Mughlai, Turkish and Andhra cuisine blend into each other like watercolours in a painting and melt in your mouth like ice. Scores of people head to Hyderabad to have a plate of dum biryani or stew chaakna in the alleys of Sultan Bazaar and Necklace Road. From Irani tea and Hyderabadi naans to masala dosas and samosas, one can eat different food in Hyderabad for a month without repeating.
Gujaratis like to eat out, that is a universal truth. What Lucknow is for carnivores, Ahmedabad is for herbivores. Given its high caloric nature, street food in Ahmedabad may as well be synonymous with comfort food. The world needs to know that there are so many other options besides munching on khakhras, fafdas, theplas, and mathari. From the tasty dabeli and dhoklas to creamy basundi and an assortment of yummy chaats, the menu in the Municipal Market along CG Road has no end. Not every dish in Gujarati cuisine is sweet, spongy khamans and crispy gotas or pakoras (with bittersweet kadhi) will make you fall in love with the state.
Indore is possibly the food capital of central India. Nearby cities of Ratlam and Bhopal also have a culinary influence on the city. Once only famous for jewellers, Sarafa is now known as the foodie bazaar. Roadside stalls and sweet sellers prepare huge assortments of freshly made gulab jamuns, rabdi, kalakand and malpuas. Poha with namkeen and jalebis is the staple snack of Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, kachoris, tikkis, and bhutte ka kees are other refreshments famous in Indore.
For all the snack options available in South India, how does one not get into a pickle? A plain dosa spread on a banana leaf with coconut chutney is probably the soul of South India. Uthapams with toppings and rasam with chutney are authentic street foods in Chennai. Whether it is the filter coffee at Mylai Karpagambal Mess, sundal and bajji at Elliot’s Beach, or pongal served with sambhar, Chennai’s food scene can’t be overlooked. Coiled and crunchy murukkus, savoury mohinga and kothu parotta are other widely available specialities in Chennai.
Meghalaya’s street food menu is as mind blowing as its magnificent scenery. Although Northeastern cuisine is now ubiquitous across the country, momos, pork roast and spare ribs – at throwaway prices – are among integral snacks in Shillong. Jadoh, which is a genuine Khasi food, is widely consumed by people in the city. To sweeten the pot, Police Bazaar in Shillong has a rich tradition of baking delightful cakes and pastries.
Moreover, French delicacies in Puducherry, mirchi vada in Rajasthan, seafood in Goa, and Tibetan specialities in Ladakh and Sikkim are to eat and die-and-go-to-heaven for.
So how many of these foods have you tried?
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