Indian street foods are a fabulous culinary adventure all onto themselves. As intimidating as it may be to sample food on the street, missing out on delicious street chaat (snacks) when visiting India would be a crime. Seek out vendors frequented by locals for the best quality and the lowest chance of Delhi Belly, and dive in. You may find yourself making entire meals out of street snacks alone.
Deep Fried Delicacies
Samosas are deep fried pyramids of full of potato goodness and served with zingy chutney. These may be the best-known Indian food outside of India – and with good reason. They’re addictively good. While you’re picking up one (or two or three) for an evening snack, try a vada as well. The same purveyors of fried goods who dish out samosas often serve these deep-fried savory treats. Masala vada, made with whole toor daal, is particularly tasty.
For a deep-fried grab-and-go delight, try vada pav. These sandwiches, particularly popular in Mumbai, consist of a spicy deep-fried potato fritter served on a bun with a side of chutney. You can also find fried potato goodness in the form of aloo tikki, mashed potato patties fried in oil and served with chutneys. Just stand warned: mush like their distant potato chip cousins, you won’t be able to stop at just one.
The “puri” designation covers a wide variety of snack options – all of which are worth trying. Pani puri (also called gol gappa) is one that should definitely be on your must-try list, as long as you’re not afraid of a little heat. These hollow cracker-like poofs filled with potatoes, chickpeas, onion, tamarind chutney and spice water are delicious, but not for the faint of heart. Bhel puri, a mixture of puffed rice, vegetables (often tomato and onion) and a tamarind sauce is another favorite street. Munching from a newspaper cone full of bhel puri is a bit like eating movie theater popcorn; you’re at the bottom of the bag before you even realize what happened.
Momos, a comforting dumpling originating in Tibet and Nepal, are a readily available miracle in North Indian. You’ll often see them served steamed on the street (though fried momos do exist), with your choice of vegetable, paneer, or chicken fillings. Deep one in chutney, pop it in your mouth, and feel the weight of the world fall off your shoulders.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Finish off your street food meal with a delectable dessert. While any traveller with a sweet tooth will be in heaven sampling from India’s well-stocked sweet counters, we recommend you finish off a street food sampler evening with jalebi. This bright orange, sticky sweet is a bit like a funnel cake multiplied by a thousand – coils of deep-fried batter soaked in sugar syrup. Best enjoyed hot, it’s the perfect finish (or start- we won’t tell) to any meal.