By Ira Sharma
India lives and eats on its streets. And we owe a measure of gratitude to the people who feed us. When somebody mentions street food in Indian context,we immediately form a picture of chaat in our mind.
And why not! After all it’s a symbol of the soul of our cities and also in many of the metros and cities, it is regarded as the signature dish. Chaat is actually India’s most famous street food. Like what is Bombay without bhelpuri? And I wonder if one goes to Lucknow one can still manage to give briyani a miss, but would never ever leave the city without sampling its famous chaat. So it is with Calcutta. Even if one doesn’t have a chingri malai curry, a luchi made from deep fried maida, or the inside out porcupine, that is the hilsa one doesn’t really care. But to eat the puchkas (golgappas) for sure, becomes the indispensible part.
In states like Punjab, the most commonly sold food is Amritsari kulcha channa and its many variations: tikki channa, channa with bhaturas. I remember when I had been to Punjab in my summer holidays and obviously knowing the fact that I am not leaving Punjab without tasting its street food, I got out of the place where we were staying and soon reached the bazaar.
It didn’t take much time to search for street food as all I could probably see was foodfood through out. At last after going through much confusion I chose a particular vendor and ordered the most ‘famous and delicious’ street food served in Punjab, however he didn’t take a second to make out that I didn’t belong to the same place.
Then, one of them fried a delicious, crisp bhatura for me and the others urged me to try their rajma with chawal. I did.
It was so yummy that I wanted to pack some and take it home to eat the next day but sadly they provided no ‘parcel’ service.
The Punjabis demanded that you eat everything on the spot. Even in kerala the street food is counted from chapathi with kozhi porichadand thattu dosa to mola puttu and kadala curry, the spicy and tangy whiffs and the tastes of rustic Kerala will remain known for years.
Despite the mushrooming of lavish restaurants and food court, Indians, ranging from poor daily wage labourers to MNC executives, take pleasure in trying the road side dedicacies. No one is embarrassed of picking up a quick bite on the streets.
Street vendors with tasty delicacies, can be easily encountered, in and around the schools, colleges(mainly in DU area), office areas and at other plac where people congregate and manage to sell at cheaper rates, ya! Right.. which might be a mystery forever.