Nothing represents the rich tapestry of India’s multicultural fabric better than its street food. The cuisine of a place speaks volumes about the culture and lifestyle of the city. Like travelling educates us, street food with its diverse ingredients and aroma across different states and regions opens a window into the lives of people and their unmistakable love and vigour for life. If one is looking to backpack across the country and sample the varied street food on offer, here are five streets you must not miss.
The taste of Lucknow and Indore
China Bazaar, in Lucknow, is a street food court with a number of street-side restaurants serving a menagerie of Avadhi, Mughlai and Punjabi cuisine. The area is famous for its huge variety of kebabs - kakori kebabs, tunde kebabs, sheekh kebabs, hariyali kebabs and galawat kebabs. After dinner, one can have paan from the Malhotra Pan Bhandar.
Similarly, Sarafa Bazaar in Indore is a must visit. This is essentially a street with a double identity. Saraf, in Marathi means ‘jeweller’, and Sarafa Bazaar is a street lined with jewellery shops which are open through the day. Once these shops shut for the evening and as a source of added security for these shops, the area turns into a one stop shop for all sorts of delectable street food, with stalls that are set up right in front of the jewellery shops.
The variety is excellent: samosas, kachoris, pani puri, pav bhaji, chhole tikiyas, sabudana ki khichdi, maalpua and poha to name a few. The famous khopra patties can be sampled at Vijay Chaat House. The patties, which are made of khopra (dry coconut) with a covering of potatoes, are fried right in front of you and served with khatti-meeti chatni. For sweets, one cannot miss the mawaa baati, a large gulaab jamun stuffed with dry fruits, saffron and cardamom at the center.
The magic of Kolkata
Terreti Bazaar occupies Sun Yat Sen Street in Kolkata and is famous for being a breakfast market. Enter Terreti Bazaar and you’ll find vendors selling all sorts of Chinese influenced selection of Kolkata street food. The streets are lined with vendors hawking piping hot soups, melting momos, hakka noodles and more.
Soup noodles, steamed baozi buns, dumplings in both steamed and deep fried forms, fish meat ball soups, and congee are the most popular breakfast options on this street.
Dilwalon ki dilli
Chandni Chowk, a quintessential part of Old Delhi, also known as the food capital of Delhi, is famous for its street food. A good idea while here would be to start with the Paranthewali Gali. The paranthas are fried in pure ghee and are served with mint chutney, banana-tamarind chutney, vegetable pickle and aloo subzi. Half a century back, you could get only a few varieties - aloo parantha, gobi parantha and matar parantha. While these continue to be the most popular, there are several new variants like lentils, fenugreek, radish, papad, carrot and mixed. Next, head to Shree Balaji Chaat Bhandar, which is perhaps the best and most popular chaatwallah in Chandni Chowk. Then there’s Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala which is famous for its Urad Dal Kachori, served with Aloo Subzi. You could try Al Jawahar, which is famous for mutton korma, piping hot changezhi chicken and the smoky flavored tandoori rotis. And finally, to indulge one’s sweeth tooth, the Rabdi Faluda at Giani di Hatti near the Fatehpuri Mosque is a must. Ghantewala, a very popular sweet shop is also a great place to pick up some authentic Indian sweets.
Eat all you want in Mumbai
Khao Galli in Mumbai, which means ‘eat street’ in English, is one of the busiest food streets in the country. Situated near Marine Lines and Churchgate railway stations, one can find the most delectable vegetarian food there.
If you’re looking for a savoury treat, try the Marathi misal pav- a spicy melange of lentils, doused in spicy curry and eaten with the city’s favourite loaf, pav.
Pav bhaji (mixed vegetable curry with bread), vada pav (spicy fried potato balls in a bread bun) and bhel puri (puffed rice with spices) are also some of the other crowd pullers here. The juice stall right at the beginning of the galli offers the famous ‘mixed fruit’ drink, a glass full of fruits and dry fruits in thick mango pulp. It comes in a tall glass tumbler and is best ordered ‘half mixed fruit’.