Authentic Indian Street Food
Different people think differently about street food. Some people feel shy about eating in open streets while some may have concerns about food hygiene and cleanliness. But the point which makes street food popular is the sheer innovation an quality of food from street vendors which established fancy restaurants find very hard to replicate. Street food is not only easy on pocket but also very good to eat. Most street food vendors worth their salt actually have better cleanliness than many restaurants. Quite often in case of street food, not only you can see the food being cooked in front of you with your own eyes but also ask for customizations which are difficult to accommodate in restaurant meals. In many street food businesses, the cooking recipe is a trade secret and is zealously guarded just like MNCs like KFC, Pepsi etc. guard their own recipes.
The variety of food available in India is unmatched anywhere in the world. India is a melting pot of various diverse cultures and their cuisines, each one with their unique flavours. What passes for Indian cuisine elsewhere in world is only a very poor and incomplete imitation of the real deal which is a amalgam of thousands of different dishes from different cultures. Even native Indians can’t expect to cover all the food varieties available here and do justice to them. A person living in Tamilnadu will have a very different diet from one living in West Bengal or Bihar or Gujarat or Rajasthan. With faster ways of communications, different regional cuisines are finding acceptance in other parts slowly but steadily. Paav Bhaaji, a typical Maharashtraian dish, Dosa from south India, Dhokla from Gujarat and many other such items are just few examples of regional Indian food dishes which have gained popularity not only inside India, but also in foreign countries.
Owing to it’s accessibility and low price, street food culture has played a very important role in increasing popularity of regional Indian food. It’s not possible for everyone to go to a fancy niche restaurant to eat authentically prepared exotic dish. In similar way, it’s not always possible for restaurants in far away locations to find good cooks and keep the authentic flavours intact. Street food vendors solve this dilemma quite well. Not only they have low prices, but the food is prepared in an authentic manner too. In most cases, a single street food vendor will specialise in preparing only one or a handful of dishes, which keeps their focus intact and also helps with increasing their expertise and gives them opportunities to experiment and innovate.
Almost every city in India has it’s own street food culture influenced by a number of factors. But there a few Indian street food dishes which one can expect to find almost anywhere, so popular they’ve become. Gol Gappe, Aaloo Tikki, kathi roll, Pakode with different stuffings, Dahi Bhalle, Poori Kachori, Chaat, Chole Bhatoore, Samosa, Dahi vada, Bhel poori and many many more dishes which used to be just regional foods now have not only pan-Indian but also international presence. Some of these food items have become so popular that people don’t even think of them as something exotic anymore. They are truly a part of Indian cuisine.
Different types of street food dishes in India are consumed as snack as well as complete meals. This is not to say that you can have pakode or smaosa for a meal. Some dishes like dosa, idli, biryani, vada paav etc, which are considered proper meals in their places of origin are eaten often eaten as street food snack elsewhere. It may get confusing for some foreigners who know only a liittle about Indian food but not the fine details needed by a dedicated foodie or even someone hungry looking for a good fulfilling meal. One needs to spend some time and effort observing the surroundings or get some one who is knowledgeable to explain the details.
Not every street food shop is worth visiting and a many are over hyped too. Some shops may not serve and operate in hygienic conditions either. Selecting a street food shop which serves good food at good price and ensures cleanliness is a bit harder than it looks and if you are new to a place. This is where food tour services prove useful. Of course it’s possible to indulge in some exploration by yourself, but in a strange country it’s better to have some one guide you when it comes to something as diverse as Indian street food, at least initially.