Tastes of the Roadside
India 08.06.2015 Lizzie
Picture this. You’re tired and the heat is beginning to prickle your skin, in the way you imagine a porcupine attack would feel. Your clothes are clinging to you and it’s been decided they’re your worst enemy right now. Feeling heavy like paperweights, your eyelids want to close. Your feet are burning from the steps you have made in the preceding hours. The surrounding sounds and colours of India become a blur, distorting reality like the view through shaped glass.
Positive memories of the day are already buzzing in your head like a swarm of happy bees. A mental scrap book of sorts. The things you have seen and done have been magical, and all you need now is something to boost your energy levels.
This is where Indian street food steps in.
It smiles at you invitingly, and fills the air with aromatic spices. It presents you with an array of colours by the roadside. For a small fee these tasty morsels can be yours.
Street food is a great element of everyday life in India, and is not to be missed if you want to delve under the culinary skin of the country and pretend you’re a local. The notion of snacks and fast food is popular in India, and you’ll never be far away from some.
During my trips, I have enjoyed trying regional dishes sold by young boys, toothless men, and modest men who cook away quietly to produce some awesome flavours. Some of the street food I enjoyed, and some (I have to admit) not so much. Why, might you ask? One must remember to take is slowly whilst eating dishes made for spice-loving locals, else the chilli will scorch your tastebuds!
Pani Puri consists of a round hollow crisp bread which has been fried, and is then filled with a masala mixture. This is normally made from water, chilli, tamarind, spices, potato, onion, and chickpeas. The trick is then to eat it in one go. This version is sometimes adapted to make a sweet version of Pani
Pav Bhaji is a vegetable curry eaten with bread buns. This is a thick potato based curry, featuring fresh coriander, lemon juice, and onion. The bread is buttered on both sides and fried before you tuck in.
Bhel Puri, a snack combining crunchy and soft textures, is made from puffed rice, fried sev, vegetables (such as onions, tomatoes, and potatoes), and a sauce. There are two popular sauces used, either a sweet tamarind and date chutney, or a coriander and green chilli.
Vada Pav consists of a potato fritter served inside a bread bun. To add further flavour, a chutney of tamarind, shredded coconut, and garlic is added... not to mention a few additional chillies.