What comes to mind when you think of Indian food? Is it the spicy taste, the bright colors, or the rich aroma? Do you think of your favorite Indian dishes, like chicken tikka, kebabs, or samosas?
Although the traditional dishes of India have become famous worldwide - you could just as quickly get them in New Jersey as in New Delhi - to taste the street food, you'll have to visit the country itself.
Indian street food is always spicy, sometimes oily, and most of the time, tasty! As someone who's lived extensively in India, and its neighbor, Pakistan, let me give you a round-up of everything you need to know about Indian street food so you don't miss out when you visit.
Indian Street Food Culture
Indian street vendors have been serving the country's masses for centuries. During the Mughal rule and the British colonization, the vendors on the streets of Delhi would serve the nobles, the commoners, and the British army alike.
Nowadays, the primary target market of these sellers is people out in the city for shopping and men who have migrated from their rural farms to earn their livelihood in the city.
This explains why Indian street food is so cheap. You could get a thali (a plate of curry) and chapati in ordinary restaurants for around INR140. That's less than $2, and it's a complete meal!
Street food tends to be even cheaper.
South Indian Street Food
In South India, the most beloved dish is Idli Sambhar, which originated in Chennai. They are basically small fermented rice cakes served with coconut or peanut chutney. It's a pretty healthy dish, too, so you can eat it guilt-free.
The other popular street food in South India is Dosa. It's famous all over the country. It also originated in Chennai, but because it was so delicious and straightforward to make, it quickly spread to other states.
Dosa is made from the same fermented rice mixture as Idli, mixed with lentils to form a batter. The mixture is poured onto a wide-circle tava (griddle) to cook. It's then rolled up and served with sauces like coconut cream or sambhar (a vegetable stew).
Mumbai Street Food
Mumbai is the 2nd-best city to experience Indian street food (the top being Delhi).
In Mumbai, you'll find the popular Vada Pav (pronounced Vadda Paa-u, emphasizing the 'd'.) and Pav Bhaji (pronounced Paa-u bhaaji). While these 2 dishes aren't the healthiest options, they're certainly the most common, and they're delicious as well.
Pav Bhaji is like a spiced curry, with vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, peas, and eggplants stewed in a huge pot. It's served with a toasted soft white bun.
Vada Pav, also referred to as "The Indian Hamburger," is a spicy and savory mashed and fried potato kebab served between two pieces of white bread.
Other Famous Street Foods in India
A potato kebab made from mashed potato mixed with spices then shallow-fried in a pan. This can be found all over the country.
Gol Gappas/Pani Puri/Pachkas
A thin shell filled with boiled potato and chickpeas, dipped in incredibly sour and spicy water. This one will make a mess, but it's a must try! It can be found all over the country.
Boiled potatoes and spices are placed inside a bun, garnished with nuts, and served with multiple chutneys. It can be found in the state of Gujrat.
Inspired by cuisines from China in the north, dumplings have become a staple in Delhi. However, Indians like to add their own twist to everything, and Indian dumplings are spicier, tangier, and more diverse than the ones you've had in your hometown. In can be found in the capital of India, New Delhi.
Cholay Baturay (Red Bean Curry)
You must have seen or heard of this popular dish! It's a red bean curry served with fried white bread. You can find fancier versions of this in restaurants, but nothing quite carries the flavor of the street vendors' versions. It can be found in the state of Punjab & North India.
This is the staple breakfast of the people of Karnataka. It's a rice bread mixed with (you guessed it!) spices and served with (of course) chutneys to blend well with the spices. It can be found in the Southwestern region of India, in the Karnataka state.
Is Indian Street Food Safe?
Some street vendors in India are infamously known for their poor hygiene. However, it's important to understand that India is a developing country that suffered for years under British colonial rule, which set it miles behind in development. With that being said, you just need to be more cautious.
When you're buying street food, ensure the following:
- When choosing a vendor, select one that has set up his stall in a developed, high-end area (such as outside a large shopping mall)
- Choose the vendor with the most customers. Check to see that all the items he's preparing food with are covered so that flies don't sit on them
- If you see the vendor wash his hands, and he prepares the food in front of you, you'll be safe
People Also Ask
Which Street Food Is Famous in India?
There are so many mouth-watering street foods to choose from in India, but some of the most famous ones are samosas (deep-fried pastries filled with spiced potatoes), chaat (a savory snack made with crispy dough, potatoes, and chutney), and vada pav (a delicious vegetarian burger, made with a potato patty and spicy chutney).
What Is Indian Street Food Like?
Indian street food is a vibrant explosion of flavors, textures, and aromas that will tease your taste buds. From crispy samosas and savory chaat to spicy vada pav and sweet jalebi, there's something for everyone.
The best thing about Indian street food is that you don't have to wait for it to grow on you - first-time eaters love it as much as the regulars.
Which Indian City Has the Best Street Food?
There's no doubt that Mumbai has the best street food in India. The city's food scene is simply unbeatable.
What Is the White Cheese That Is Shredded Over Indian Street Foods?
The creamy cheese that's often sprinkled on top of popular Indian street foods, like chaat and bhel puri, is paneer. This versatile cheese is made from curdled cow or buffalo milk and is a staple in many Indian dishes.
How Much Do Street Vendors Make in India?
Providing an exact figure is difficult as street vendor earnings can vary greatly depending on location, product, and competition. However, on average, street vendors in India can earn anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand rupees a day. It's a tough job, but many find it to be a fulfilling and rewarding way to earn a living.
What Is the Best Street Food in India?
India is a treasure trove of delicious street foods. Still, if I had to pick just one, it would be the humble yet incredibly flavorful samosa. This crispy deep-fried pastry stuffed with spicy potatoes and peas is a true crowd-pleaser and can be found on almost every street corner in India. Don't forget to dip it in a tangy tamarind or mint chutney for an extra burst of flavor.
What Kind of Oil Is Used in Cooking Indian Street Food?
Each region boasts its own unique flavors. From the pungent mustard oil in North India to the fragrant coconut oil in the South, one thing is for sure; oil is a key ingredient that adds flavor to almost all Indian dishes.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Trip to India!
Planning is the best way to avoid missing out when going on any trip. Start by looking into the things you shouldn't miss out on in India, to make sure you know exactly where you want to go.
If you haven't tried any trip-planning platforms, it may be worth looking into planning your trip with Pilot.