Street food on your mind? Come out of any station in Mumbai and vada-batata is beckoning you to gobble it; or straddle down the streets of Kolkatta and it is impossible to deny yourself the flavour of puchkas. We dare to take a stride down the Chandni Chowk and stay away from those Chole Bature perfected over generations.
Before we salivate any further, come along to take in the aroma of the best street foods any country can offer. But if it is not physically possible to be there to savour the same, there are homemade options you can seek comfort in….
Vada-pav: Come to Mumbai, vada-pav meri hai!
If Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor sang praises of batata vada there must be something to it. Known as the Indian hamburger, this street food is Mumbaiker’s favourite grab. Don’t go by its humble looks, this ‘Best of the West’ of goodness has been a saviour of the hungry since long. It is filled with boiled potatoes that are tempered to perfection with lime juice squeezed in it and then dipped into besan atta batter. The latter too is seasoned with haldi, salt, cumin and asafetida.
Once ready, the ball-of-delight is then deep fried till it is crispy from the outside but moist and soft from the inside. The vada is then sandwiched in a pav which has sweet-sour chutney or spicy applied to it. Two green chillies fried are given as an accompaniment for you to bite and feel the thrill of it all.
Hola! Tear open the mouth-watering vada-pav and let the hot steam hit you. Unhurriedly take a bite of this street food. Savour that umami flavour and Carpe Diem.
Pani puri: An extra zing for your taste buds
What can we say about those crispy, fluffed up puris/crepe filled with mashed potatoes, boiled green moong dal and sweet tamarind chutney dipped in devilishly delicious concoction? Forget saying anything, we won’t be able to whistle with our mouth full of this piece de résistance.
This favourite chaat is known to have originated from the ancient city of Magadh In South Bihar. It is adorned with monikers such as phucka (Kolkatta), golgappa, golpuchka (Delhi), pani-puri (Mumbai). This lip-smacking favourite has many twists today. You get puri dipped in alcohol or tweaked with varieties of chutney, dahi, without the watery dip.
Hola: Watch with bright wonder when your pani puri is being made. It stirs up the appetite, creates tummy-shor (sounds) as the vendor adds tiny delicious bits into your puri and dash of dry spices. Finally, when he comes to dip it in the salty, sour cold green coriander blend you will unconsciously open your mouth wide enough to gobble up this tasty chaos.
Jhaal muri: Ami Tumake Bhalobasi (I love you)
A quintessential snack of Kolkatta, this puffed rice tasty is a version of the popular bhel with a Bengali spin to it. It is made up of boiled aloo, peanuts, cucumber, tomato, lemon zest, and the dribble of mustard oil to give it the Eastern flavour.
Dash of dry spices, chilli powder and amchoor powder is added and packed in a paper cone. Finally, the snack is garnished with cut coriander to give it that unbeatable aroma. Many times the ingredients are pre-mixed and you can ask for your version.
Hola: Watch your vendor speedily work upon your jhaal muri lest the puffed rice gets soggy and mushy. Your moment of truth is when you eat into the first bite of crunchy delicacy. A perfect 4 pm snack the goodness of mustard oil gives it a healthy whirl.
Pav-bhaji: Haanji, it is drool-worthy!
The crowd is buzzing and tucking down a hearty pav-bhaji! This dish a fan following that has taken across seven seas making it glocal. A hot steaming delight of freshly mashed potatoes, tomatoes and other veggies like carrots and cauliflower which makes it perhaps a nutritious dish as well. Yet it is sinned with dollops of butter on top which melts like a golden pond.
The treat is served with pav/bun crispy on the same tava on which your bhaji was made with butter generously added. The flavour is thus infused in the pav making it so delicious that it is impossible to keep your hands off it! The bhaji is garnished with coriander zest. A popular dish of this metro, this is a quality dish as it is made in front of you.
Hola: So yummy, so buttery, so tasty and so good….take a dig into this delicacy and you will be left with fingers licking.
Aloo chaat, potato at its best!
Another loved savoury from North India, aloo chaat is boiled potatoes garnished with spices, coriander and dahi. It is platted on flat crisp puri making it a relishing dish to be had especially during summer. You can go weak in your knees when the garnish such as tamarind sweet chutney is added with the spicy green mint chutney. Add some sev on the top to give it some crunch. Aloo chaat is also popular in Bengal and this side of Western Ghats, Mumbai.
Hola: This savoury item is also hearty and perfect for times when you are hungry but not for a regular meal.
A 2.0 version of aloo chaat, papri chaat is famous Kolkata snack this dish reflects the cultural integration like many others that come to our table. Ideal to tingle your taste buds, this is again a hearty treat as it is made up of potatoes.
Hola: Come down to your chaat khau galli and tell him for some papri chaat. Crisp round disc with potatoes, boiled chickpeas, with dahi poured on it. Garnished with spices and herbs of your choice. What can we say, unbelievably good.
A spicy savoury, Kachori
A popular Marwari snack famous in Mumbai, Gujarat, Bengal and North India! Originally from UP, this is a rounded crisp fluffy disc or crepe which famously adds an edge to Rajasthani cuisines, Pyaaj Kachori. It is made up of moong dal and filled stuffing of mashed pulses (urad and moong dal) and spices. There are various versions of the stuffing to make this a very tasty dish.
Hola: Have you tried ‘Khasta kachori’ or ‘Raj Kachori’? This 4 pm snack is also called kochuri in West Bengal. This is eaten with peas potato curry which takes it to another level.
You can also add your own twist to the home made verison and relish it away!