A love letter to India street food
“When you arrive in India, whether it’s Mumbai or Delhi, you’ll think to yourself, “I better eat at the hotel, or the fancy TripAdvisor recommendation. Well that is WRONG. Embrace the streets! Indian street food is your most delicious, and in my opinion, safest path towards a wonderful culinary experience in the land of spices. Just think about it: at a street food stall you can see how everything is made, the cleanliness is clear and the popularity of the stand is obvious. Meanwhile, a fancy hotel has a hidden staff of young cooks that don’t care if you come back, and the kitchen and cooking conditions are hidden to the public. To me, the choice of popular public display of delicouness trumps the restaurant kitchen behind door number 4.
Some of our favorite street snacks include:
Vada pav: Spiced and fried potatoes in a soft bun with tamarind and cilantro chutneys.
Bhel Puri: Puffed rice with red onion, chilli, tomato, mint, and the chef’s selection of creative sweet, sour, spicy and crunchy accompaniments.
Panipuri: A tiny crunchy bite-sized container to a whole a flavor bomb of spiced water and condiments – this is literally an explosion in your mouth. It consists of a round, hollow fried crisp (puri) filled with a mixture of water (“pani”), tamarind, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion and chickpeas. Really, when you bite down on the puri, the sweet and spicy water bursts out of its shell.
With each street food interaction there is an inevitable friendship formed between seasoned chef/street vendor and his converted disciple of non-western Indian food. But beyond India’s street food pedestal is a country that may be better than any place in the world to explore. Let me explain why…
First, people are friendly: This can’t be said for every county, but in India, don’t be surprised when you are asked to tea, invited to dinner, or even a wedding.
Travel is easy: the British did one thing right in India, they built a vast network of trains across the continent and although they aren’t quick, riding across the country is a highlight. You can read, drink tea with your neighbors or stare out at the ever changing landscape.
Culture: many countries have highlights, India is a kaleidoscope of the most insane, diverse and colorful culture you’ve ever imagined… seriously.
Oh, and India is also really safe, people speak Engilsh… and did I mention the food? I swear we weren’t hired by the India tourism board, it is not the easiest country… you will get dirty, tired and frustrated, but the rewards are like nowhere else. Enjoy!”
What is a day in India really like? Perennial Plate’s inspiring video gives you a 3-minute taste of the real India.
Photo: © Perennial Plate