The Five Best Street Foods in India

People travel for a myriad of different reasons. For some it is the spiritual journey others the culture, the food, the people or an intricate fusion of all things.

Food plays a vital role in the identity of any culture. It has the ability to activate every sense in our body. It ignites memories creating a connection with friends loved ones, and community. Sampling the culinary delights of a country is one of the best ways to get a sense of what a country is about, their heritage and influences. 

Here are my favourite five street foods to try whilst in India.

Jalebi

I confess I had never heard of a Jalebi until I watch the emotionally moving film, Lion. There is a magical scene where the lead actor walks into a friend’s kitchen and she has a plate of Jalebi’s for desert. The mere sight of these bright read spirals of syrupy sweetness immediately transports him to his early childhood in India.

Years later, huddled under a make shift tarpaulin in the rain, I got to sample these delectable delights in the remote village of Ghangria on the way to the Valley of Flowers.

Made with a mix of gram and chickpea flour, yogurt and water, this batter is squeezed into hot oil in spirals, crispy fried, then dipped into a sticky red syrup.

Golgappa

It sounds like a mouthful, and it is. This has to be the most fun wrapped up in a small piece of dough as one can get. Also known as Pani puri and pukcha, it is found in most of India and definitely worth trying with

a group of friends. It is made from a mix semolina powder, flour and water. It sounds simple enough and rather plane, but these little balls pack a punch of fun flavours. Once fried these bite sized puffed up hollow spheres are filled with a mix of favoured water, chickpea masala, tamarind, chilie sauce and potatoe

Mouth wateringly delicious.

Mirchi Bajji

If you are happy to ramp things up to the hot stuff then Mirchi is the way to go. Mirchi translates to chilies and bajji to deep fried fritters made with gram flour.

The inside of the chilli is hollowed out and stuffed with a mix of delicate spices and chopped onion and then deep fried, to create a crispy coated explosion of delicate spices.

Ghugni Chaat

If you are approaching a street vendor and see a fortress of bright yellow peas on a pan that is probably Ghungi Chaat.

Often served in a perfectly eco friendly leaf bowl, this vegetarian snack contains a mix of hot cooked yellow peas,  served with chopped onion, tomato, coriander and a myriad of flavours.

In some ways it reminds me of a Hot Sweet and Sour soup, as flavour of your choice is added including lime juice, tamarind water and chopped chillies. If you have ever had Matar Chaat or Matra Chaat and prefer a spicier flavour, this Bengali dish must be top of your list.

Galouti Kebab

By now some of you may be wondering where the meat dish is! Well here it is.

Resembling a small burger patty, these balls of flavour are made from minced lamb which has been marinated in a mix of spices, papaya and fresh cream and then mixed with chopped onion, ginger, chilli and egg. There are many variations including the addition of rose water and chopped nuts. So if you have nut allergies remember to ask first.

The little balls are then deep fried ready to be enjoyed!

So as they say in India, “Apanē bhōjana kā ānanda lēṁ,” enjoy your meal.

Debra Bouwer – tours@nomadicadventures.co.za

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