India can rightfully be called an Epicurean delight for the vast variety of food it offers to the ardent tongues. Apart of the respective cuisines of the place you go, the street food out here is omnipresent. It is rather impossible to travel on the road and not sight a food shack every five minutes, serving fried food with far-too-delicious concoctions. The smell that reaches the nose from a distant kiosk would definitely make you drool. Although, it is very probable that you might end up with a bad stomach if you eat too much of this food, it is often difficult to resist the temptation. The following is a list of the most well-known delicious street foods of India, which you will find in almost every nook and corner of the country.
10. Vada Pav
This can easily qualify as the domestic version of a burger consisting of a deep-fried mashed potato patty, called the Vada, sandwiched between two pieces of bread called Pav. The Vada is generally very spicy and is flavoured with garlic and ginger. It is served with red tamarind chutney, green coriander chutney and fried green chillies, making it even spicier. These days, private food chains have started marketing Vada pavs. It is the most common fast food in Maharashtra and one can see many-a-man strolling on the beach, munching on a Vada-pav.
This street food, again spicy as hell, comes in both fried and non-fried forms. A typical North Indian street food, you will find its variants throughout the country. Matar, translated as Peas in English, are dried up field peas, boiled and mashed. The mashed peas are mixed with tangy chutneys, onions, spices, green chillies, namkeens, lime juice and crushed fritters made of flour and served to the eager customers who crave for this tangy food. It is also served in fried form. Patties are made out of the mashed peas and fried. The fried patty is then served with sweet tamarind chutney and whisked curd.
Anyone with a sweet tooth cannot afford to miss out on this manna-food. Jalebi and Imarti not only serve as an ideal dessert but also as a short snack. Jalebi is consumed throughout the Indian Subcontinent, with its popularity extending upto the Middle East and North Africa, as the quintessential Indian sweet. It is made by deep-frying a wheat-flour batter in circular, spring-like shapes and then soaking those fritters in sugar syrup. They are generally flavoured in saffron and served with unsweetened curd. Imarti is closely related to Jalebi, only difference being that it is made of a different lentil-flour batter. Imarti is generally served with a condensed milk dish called Rabri. The jalebi is analogous to a pretzel, minus the crunch.
7. Pav Bhaji
It is a spicy fast food, again typical to the Mumbai cuisine of Maharashtra. However, it has now become popular in most metropolitan areas of the country, serving as a common appetizer. Pav means unflavoured bread and bhaji is a Maharashtrian term for a vegetable dish. It essentially consists of thick potato based gravy with vegetables like cauliflower, egg plant, green peas, beans, carrots etc blended in and cooked. This highly nutritious curry is served with buttered Pavs and raw onions and a sprinkle of lime juice. Coriander chutney may also be served with it. The dish was originally made for the textile mill workers in Mumbai who required a light but nutritious meal during the work hours. Slowly, its popularity expanded and now it has almost become the stale diet of the denizens of Mumbai.
In contrast with the main courses, there are few options for the hardcore non-vegetarians when we talk about the popular fast foods in India. Kebabs come to their immediate rescue. Kebabs are minced meat preparations generally wrapped up in paranthas and eaten as a fast food. The Shammi Kebabs are particularly popular in Uttar Pradesh particularly Lucknow. They are served with raw onions, lime juice and occasionally coriander chutney. Vegetarian kebabs have also become quite popular in various parts of the country where meat is substituted with soybean nuggets. The rich flavour of the spices would make you go gaga over this dish and crave for more.
A bar of chilled Kulfi is the perfect food for the evening. It is often described as the typical Indian Subcontinent ice cream. Kulfi is, infact, icecream except for the fact that it is denser and creamier. The most common flavours associated with kulfi are cream, rose, mango, pistachio and almond. It is commonly served with falooda, which are sweetened, generally saffron flavoured noodles. Newer variations in flavours like chocolate, kiwi, watermelon, peach are now almost available everywhere. Kulfi remains the delectable Indian dessert.
Take a stroll in the evening and you will see not less than ten shacks with samosas being fried in big woks. Samosa is the most ubiquitous fast food on the streets of India. Samosa is basically a triangle- shaped fritter with a savoury filling which is generally a spicy mixture of mashed potatoes and other tangy condiments. The filling may vary from potatoes, lentils, onion, and cottage cheese to minced mutton and chicken. It is accompanied with coriander chutney as well as tamarind chutney. Samosa is eaten not just in India but also in the Middle Eatern and associated countries in different forms. Some varieties of samosas with a sweet filling are also known but they are not as popular as their savoury counterparts.
3. Bhel Puri
It is another savoury Indian snack, typical to the beaches of Mumbai. It is mixture of puffed rice, sev (tiny noodle shaped snack made out of gram flour), peanuts, namkeens, onions, boiled potatoes and tamarind chutney. All these products are simply mixed in a bowl and dressed with lime juice to form the Bhel Puri which is gladly munched by people all over the country. Bhel Puri probably originated in Mumbai and gradually spread throughout India because of it being a easy to make, light snack. Sev Puri and Dahi Puri are the common variants of Bhel Puri. It is typically served in a paper-folded cone with a small wooden spoon.
2. Aloo Tikki
It is popular chaat, originating in North India with variants found throughout the country. It is essentially a deep-fried patty made of boiled mashed potatoes and served with sweetened curd, tamarind chutney and spices. Aloo means potato and tikki is a small, rotund patty. The popularity of this street food can be judged by the fact that McDonald’s markets a burger named Mc Aloo Tikki in many countries, generally places with large Indian population. However, it is not a true picture of the Aloo Tikki. It is sold in almost every chaat shack in the country, particularly North India, ready to stimulate your taste-buds..
1. Gol Gappe
The top spot is reserved for the most popular street food in the country. Indeed, there is no competition to this refreshing and at the same time filling snack. Gol Gappa, also known as Paani Puri, Paani ke Bataashe, Puchka and Gup Chup , are round, hollow and crispy puris filled with a mixture of flavored water and mashed, dried peas, boiled potato and chickpeas. It is popular in Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Karachi, Kolkata and almost every other city in India. The gol gappe at different places vary not just in their names but also the stuffing and the flavour of the water. The typical way of serving gol gappa is handing out one at a time to the customer, generally at the hands of a roadside vendor. However, many places now employ the self service. Generally, six to eight gol gappe are served in one plate and ideally it is eaten by putting the entire thing into the mouth at once, enjoying its composite flavour.