Why is Street Food Loved Around the World?
Ask any food lover who loves to eat at a roadside food stall as to why they're so fond of street food? We bet, you won't just get a single reason, because there are so many reasons behind the cravings for street food throughout the world. To name some:
- Street foods are the cheapest. For people who don't have a sufficient income, people who are bored of eating a home-cooked meal, unemployed people, Indian street food comes as a blessing for everyone. No matter who you are or what your financial status is, street food is something that fits everyone's pockets.
- Many times when you walk on the road, the smell of some roadside dish hits you, and you decide to stop and have a plate of your favourite food item. And even if you're full, you still choose to have it, because there's always a particular space reserved for such mouth-watering food.
- Ever observed the people who eat roadside food? If you did, then you must be aware of the way they eat - some are slurping, some are licking their fingers, some are just busy smelling the food before they finally decide to eat. This is why most people love eating at the roadside. It feels great to eat the way you want to, to eat like a hungry animal and still not get judged. Because let's be honest, everyone over there does the same thing.
- Who would doubt the authenticity of this sentence when we say that street foods are tasty! You won't find a single food stall across the world where people don't enjoy the taste of the food they're offered.
The Vast Diversity of Indian Street Food
India is a country where you will find diversity in everything. The difference in culture, diversity in languages spoken, a variety of people, and diversity in food as well. Every Indian state, every Indian city has its speciality when it comes to street food. Can you roam the streets of Indore without having the mouth-watering 'Poha and Jalebi' which is the finest street food and speciality of Indore? Can you walk through the busy and crowded lanes of Mumbai without grasping a 'Vadapav'? What about the lip-smacking 'Aloo-tikkis' of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh or the most popular 'Idlis and Vada-Sambhar' of Chennai? You won't be able to resist the temptation! When it comes to street food, no other country can beat India where not just one or two or three, but every single state and city has its variety of delicacies.
Talk about the famous 'Bikaneri-Kachori' of the royal state of Rajasthan, India. Bikaner is noted for its amazing cuisines and delectable street foods. Not just Bikaneri-Kachori, the desert state is also favourite for its famous Dal-Baati Churma and Pakoras. These food items can be found in almost every street stall of Bikaner.
What Makes Indian Street Food so Popular
The popularity of Indian street food can be known from the very fact that every day millions of people from different regions prefer to eat roadside food from various street vendors. According to our Ancient Hindu Dietary rules, there are two concepts when it comes to food - Kaccha food and Pakka food. These concepts are still at play even today. Kaccha food was traditionally only consumed at home because Kaccha food such as rice and dal require certain kind of purifying rituals to deliver them safe for people to eat whereas Pakka food items can be securely consumed outside one's house. Hence, Indian street foods are generally made from the Pakka food items because that's what is acceptable amongst most consumers.
If we take a look at the health and hygiene aspect of Indian street food today, it is no more unclean or unhealthy (unless you eat from some very rearward area.) You will find that almost every other Indian street food vendor uses vegetables, pulses as well as many ayurvedic species such as garlic and turmeric. All these healthy ingredients add to the richness of street food. Moreover, many street vendors these days wear disposable gloves to avoid any health problem.
Western visitors when in India often try to stay away from roadside stalls because they're concerned about the hygiene. But if you ask me, Indian street foods are way much healthy, better, and freshly cooked as compared to any tourist restaurant cuisine. Unlike restaurants where you're not even sure whether the food that you're being served is newly prepared or old or might even be leftover food, street vendors guarantee you to offer the best and freshly prepared food. It satisfies us to see that the food that we're going to eat is cooked right in front of our eyes. What can be better than this? The street vendors of India make a living out of their stalls, so they'll always make sure to satisfy their customers so that the customers visit again. And which is why they also make sure that the food is not only tasty but at the same time fresh and hygienic. It is why we Indians can proudly say that our street foods are the best and the most popular ones.
The Top 10 Street Foods of India
Chole bhature is a Punjabi dish that belongs to the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Although Chole Bhature is widely popular in Punjab, it is also famous in the urban cities of India. Apart from Punjab, Delhi is the best place to have the luscious Chole Bhature. The combination of spicy chana masala (Chole) and soft Bhature can make any food lover's day. One can find this absolute wealthy treat almost everywhere on the streets of Delhi. Paharganj, Kamla Nagar, Sardar Bazar are the areas in Delhi where you can enjoy the best piping hot plate of Chole bhature.
Momos primarily originated from the Tibet. Later the dish spread to the neighbouring countries. It is a dish that is quite popular in the Northern part of India, Momo is a traditional daintiness for the Nepalese and Tibetan communities. One can find different versions of Momos in many states and cities of India. But if you want to enjoy the authentic taste of Momos, then Northeast India have it best. Go out on the streets of Nepal, Ladakh, Jammu, and Tibet, and you can find people enjoying the hot steamed dumpling of Momos. The outer cover of a Momo is generally made of water and white flour dough. At times a little baking soda is added to improve the texture of the dough. Momos are of two types - steamed and fried. You can easily find two kind of Momos on the streets of Nepal and they are commonly served with a dipping tomato sauce.
Ice-gola, Barf ka gola, Chuski, you name it! It is believed that the Japanese were the ones who invented the Ice-gola. Back in the era of 794 to 1185 AD ice was considered very rare, and during the Heian period, ice would be brought down from mountains and later they used to store it in a cave - which translates to ice room. This is what people believe to be the story behind the Ice-gola. Whatever the story behind the Ice-gola is and whoever invented this refreshing Ice-gola, we owe a lot to them. Now, do you ask where one can find the best gola in India? It's everywhere! You heard that right, no matter where you belong to in India, ice gola is something you can't resist yourself from having. Those combined delicious flavours with icy syrups is something people long for during summers. Many shops provide some excellently flavoured Ice-gola, but nothing is better than having a cold, refreshing Ice-gola on the roadside streets while beating the scorching heat and reliving those happy childhood days once again.
For all the chaat lovers out there, Dahi Puri is a decadent treat for them. Dahi Puri is most popular in the state of Maharashtra, India and it's believed to be originated from the Mumbai city. Walk into the streets of Mumbai, and you will come across numerous street stalls offering Dahi Puri along with other famous chats. One gets to eat like some 5 or 6 Dahi Puris per plate. Just like Pani puri, each Dahi Puri should be eaten whole so that you don't miss the taste of all the flavours and textures. It is best enjoyed when it is eaten in one go.
Pav Bhaji and Vada pav
Mumbaikars have an extraordinary attachment with the 6 ladi or 8 ladi pavs. Just utter the word 'pav', and we will introduce you with a wide variety of pav dishes. Pav-bhaji and Vada-pav are only the two most popular amongst them. Both these dishes originated from Mumbai.
Do you know there's one fascinating story behind how the pav bhaji was introduced? Back then, Mumbai was full of labour class and mills. Due to a lot of work, the workers didn't have much time to sit comfortably and have their lunch, they used to get very short lunch breaks. At the same time, their work demanded that they shouldn't eat anything heavy. That is when the roadside vendors arranged the pav bhaji. Interesting! Isn't it? Pav bhaji is a thick curry where many vegetables are used such as onions, green peas, capsicum, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, and many more. It is served with soft pav with deep fried butter.
Vada pav, the name in itself is enough to brighten the mood of every Mumbaikar. This Indian burger is the favourite of everyone. And if you ever stepped in Mumbai, you cannot leave without eating the all-time favourite Vada pav. There isn't just one best place to eat Vada pada. There are hundreds of roadside stalls across Mumbai offering the best Vada pav. The potatoes filled with desi species, coated with gram flour batter when served hot with the pav can make anyone the fan of Vada pav for a lifetime.
Idli, Dosa and Vada
Idli, Dosa, and Vada all these dishes originate from the southern part of India and they are the most popular mouth-watering delicacies of south India. South-Indians love to have these dishes as their breakfast. All the three dishes have rice flour batter as their main ingredient. When it comes to Dosa, there are two types of dosas. One is Masala Dosa where a mixture of vegetables are added on top of the Dosa batter and is cooked on a hot pan. And the other is Plain Dosa. Idlis and Plain Dosa are served with the coconut chutney while Medu Vada is served with hot sambhar.
Aloo Tikki is another all time favourite snack that is served at the roadside stalls all over India. Aloo tikki originated from northern India and is made of boiled potatoes with added species. This North-Indian snack is served hot with sauce. Every city has a different name for Aloo tikki. For example, in Mumbai it's called Ragda Patties and is sold at various chaat stalls. Aloo tikki in Mumbai is popular at the Chowpatty Beach.
Meat Rolls and Kulcha
A Meat-roll or Roulade is a delicious dish which can be found in both context of a sweet as well as a savoury. One of the examples of sweet Roulade is Swiss role. A meat roll contains part of steak which is then rolled with a filling like green veggies, cheese or any other meat. Such a dish is locked with the help of toothpick or with a strand of fibre.
Kulcha, on the other hand, is typically a flatbread which is believed to originate from the southern region of Asia or the Indian subcontinent. The speciality of this dish is that earthen clay oven, also known as tandoor is used to bake Kulcha which results in an amazing taste. It can be made with many variations like Plain Kulcha or nowadays even stuffed ones are very popular, depending upon the liking of a person.
Did you know, according to nutritionists, poha is one of the healthiest Indian breakfasts dishes. Poha is a good source of iron, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins. Poha mainly originated from Maharashtra, India. In Maharashtra, 'kanda poha', or onion poha, is the most popular one. This Indian dish is also prepared in other states of India such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana. You can't find as many stalls of vendors selling poha as that of other famous street chaats. But there are areas in Maharashtra where you can enjoy the best poha dishes.
This round, hollow, and crunchy puri ranks on the top list of every street food lover. Different regions have different names for pani-puri. In Madhya Pradesh it is called fulki, paani-patashi in Haryana, gol-gappa in Uttar Pradesh, pakodi in Gujarat and the list is endless.
It is believed that pani-puri originated from the epic Mahabharata, here is the story behind it. When a newly wed Draupadi returned home, her mother-in-law Kunti gives her a task to test her capabilities. She gave Draupadi a little amount of wheat flour, and some leftover potatoes and instructed her to make some food that would satisfy the hunger of her sons. It was then that Draupadi invented pani-puri and impressed with her daughter-in law's capability, Kunti sanctified the dish with immortality. The accuracy of the history is yet to be found out though. Whatever the past might be, one thing is clear, and it is the fact that all over India, people love pani-puri.
Bonus: The Famed Sandwiches of Mumbai
Along with all the Street Foods of India, it would be unfair if we didn’t mention the most popular ‘Sandwiches of Bombay'. This street food is the favourite of every single person residing in Bombay. You will find many stalls lined up with different versions of sandwiches in Bombay.
After all the information about the Street Foods of India, do you now believe that we Indians have the origins of some of the world's best street foods?!
Make Sure You Try Indian Street Food
Street Food is present throughout the world. But if you're a food lover and you haven't heard or tried food of the Indian streets by now, you're missing out on something real amazing! Go ahead, rather than going out in those fancy big restaurants, try something new every day because there's so much variety out there, you're not going to regret it!