Street food on your mind? Come out of any station in Mumbai and vada-batata is beckoning you to devour it, or straddle down the streets of Kolkatta and fail horribly at denying yourself the flavour of puchkas. We dare you to take a stride down Chandni Chowk and stay away from those Chole Bature, made with recipes perfected over generations.
Before we salivate any further, let’s see how we can go from talking about to gobbling down some of the best street foods in the country. Since it’s not always possible to travel for food, we’ve got some homemade options for you that are just as good, if not better.
Vada-pav: Welcome to Mumbai
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 a Mumbaiker’s favourite grab. Don’t go by its humble looks, this ‘Best of the West’ street snack has been a saviour of the hungry for ages. It is filled with boiled potatoes that are tempered to perfection with a squeeze of lime and then dipped into a besan atta batter. The latter too is seasoned with haldi, salt, cumin, and asafetida.
Once ready, the ball-of-delight is deep-fried till it is crispy from the outside but moist and soft from the inside. The vada is then sandwiched in a pav and sweet-sour or spicy chutney is slathered on top. Two fried green chillies are given as an accompaniment for those who like it extra hot.
Pani puri: An extra zing for your taste buds
What can we say about these crispy, fluffed up puris filled with spiced mashed potatoes, boiled green moong dal, and a liquid concoction of tangy, spicy pani and sweet & sour chutney? We’ll say just one thing, a phuchka can change your life. With so much happening in one bite, there’s no room for doubt, or for words, as a mouthful of these can truly shut you up. Try it to know it!
Pani puri 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), and pani-puri (Mumbai). This lip-smacking favourite has many twists today. You get puri dipped in alcohol or tweaked with varieties of chutney, dahi, and more.
Jhaal muri: Ami Tumake Bhalobasi (I love you!)
A quintessential snack of Kolkatta, this puffed rice snack 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 a dribble of mustard oil to give it that East-Indian touch.
A dash of dry spices like chilli powder and amchoor powder is added for that extra zing. Packed in a paper cone, the snack is finally garnished with cut coriander to give it that fresh aroma. It makes for the perfect 4 pm snack.
Pav-bhaji: Haanji, it is drool-worthy!
The crowd is buzzing and tucking down a hearty pav-bhaji! This dish has a fan following from across the seven seas, making it truly glocal. A hot steaming delight of freshly mashed potatoes, tomatoes and other veggies like carrots and cauliflower make this dish nutritious as well. The bhaji is topped with a dollop of butter and served with tava-fried pav or bun crispy. 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 and a squeeze of lemon and raw onions. So yummy, so buttery, so tasty and so good that we bet you can’t wait to dig in.
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 crisp, flat puris adding a bit of crunch and chewiness. One bite can turn your world around as the sweet tamarind chutney blends with the spicy green mint chutney, creating a world of flavour. Add some sev on top to give that something extra. This savoury snack is also hearty and perfect for times when you’re scrounging for something special.
A 2.0 version of aloo chaat, papri chaat is a famous Kolkata snack that reflects cultural integration. Ideal for tingling your taste buds, this is again a hearty treat as it is made up of spiced mashed potatoes and boiled chickpeas. Chopped onions, tomatoes, and fresh coriander add freshness and more flavour to this mixture which is piled over crispy round papdi discs. Topped with dahi, each bite offers the perfect blend of flavours.
Spicy savoury kachori
This popular Marwari snack is famous in Mumbai, Gujarat, Bengal and North India! Originally from UP, kachoris are crispy flour discs stuffed with a delectable mixture of spices and moong dal. There are various versions of the stuffing and each of them is worth experimenting with, like ‘Khasta Kachori’ or ‘Raj Kachori’? In West Bengal, it is called kochuri. This is eaten with peas potato curry which takes it to a whole new level.