While home-cooked dishes have their own charm and flavors, the streets show Indian street foods at its spiciest and wildest. Starting from breakfasts hastily gobbled down by office-goers, to tasty tidbits munched appetizers throughout the day, by people of all ages, the Indian street foods culture is intoxicating. Majorly vegetarian, Indian street foods serves up vegetables in different concoctions to which spices like cumin, fenugreek, chillies, and herbs like ‘dhaniya’ (coriander) and ‘pudina’ (mint) add their special twist.
There are many different contenders as to which are the famous Indian street foods, but here is a randomly prepared list of top 10 famous street foods most people associate with India:
This North Indian street foods basically consists of boiled potatoes, green chillies, coriander leaves with a squeeze of lemon and spices. Tomatoes, chickpeas, sour curd and many other ingredients may go into a regular street ‘chaat’. In Fruit chaat, a refreshing summer variant, fresh seasonal fruits replace the traditional potatoes.
In this famous South Indian dish which uses generous amounts of sour curd, the ‘Vada’ is a crunchy, deep-fried flattened delicacy, made with a batter of rice and lentils. The chilled curd, or ‘Dahi’ is poured over the Vada, taking away a bit of the crunch but lending a tangy flavor.
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A lightweight fried bread with a puffy texture and crisp exterior, Puri or Poori is a famous North Indian breakfast snack. A plate of round, freshly made Puris looks appetizing. The dough is kneaded, deep-fried till it is lightly golden, and served with a helping of cooked vegetables or chutney.
One of the most loved South Indian breakfast recipes, idli is nutritious and filling. It is made with a batter of fermented rice, mixed with lentils and curd, giving it a lightly pungent flavor. A freshly made Idli looks somewhat like a white ellipse, and is soft and slightly moist. Idli is accompanied usually by a fiery ‘sambar’ (lentils prepared with spices and vegetables) and coconut chutney.
Made with vegetables and spices, these fritters are served with chutney or a dip on the side. Potatoes are boiled,mashed, mixed with spices and deep-fried in a light batter, to make a tikki. The shape is flattened and circular, with a crunchy texture.
In a classic ‘pakora’, a particular vegetable is chopped, mixed with spices, coated with batter and deep-fried. The shape of a pakora can be anything, depending on which vegetable is being used. Ladies fingers, potatoes, brinjals, capsicums, and even paneer (cubes of cottage cheese) can be used to fry a pakora.
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This is undoubtedly one of India’s top favorite street foods, called affectionately by other names too, like ‘Golguppa’, ‘Phuchka’ etc. Small puffy crisp hollow balls filled with a spicy potato mix, and served with tamarind water, that is Paani puri, essentially.
Different vegetables, especially potato, are used inside a traditional samosa. The dough is made into a triangle and stuffed with this filling, then deep-fried and served with sauce or chutney.
India is known for its many different ways of using rice, and ‘bhel’ or rice puffed-up and processed into crisps, is very popular. Puffed up crispy rice (bhel) mixed with spices, chutney and salty crisps makes up a plate of Bhel Puri.
Poha (beaten or flattened rice) is a favorite in many parts of India, and is cooked in different ways. The beaten rice is stirred and lightly fried with spices to make this aromatic and healthy Indian breakfast dish.
Most street food items are usually prepared by hand, right on the spot, and served hot and fresh, via pushcarts, makeshift stalls, or roadside shops. You can customize the level of spices or tanginess to your taste. Concerned about the hygiene aspect during your Indian tours? You can find many of these delicacies in an Indian restaurant that serves snacks. The flavors of India have gone way beyond its shores. If you are away from India, have never been there, or simply would like a bite into its variegated street food culture, keep ‘Mirch Masala’, a restaurant in Leicester on your watch-list. This British restaurant specialises in Indian dishes and has an extensive street food menu (including many featured here), made with authentic Indian ingredients and spices. Wish you a happy gastronomic adventure!