This past month I’ve been all about trying new grub, especially street food, also known as chaat. The winter season has graced India with new produce I’ve yet to see on this side of the world, like corn on the cob and sweet potato and my goodness, have I been taking advantage of it. While in Delhi, and travelling through the south on my Christmas holidays, I took to indulging in some awesome street food that I (and many friends) believe MUST be eaten while travelling through India. So, without further a due, here are my top 5 Indian street food dishes:
1. Shev Puri
Shev Puri is hands down my favorite new snack. The base is a crispy cracker topped with a sweet chutney/masala sprinkled with a layer of bhujia, a crispy thin noodle, peanuts and cilantro. The plate comes with about 6 crackers and is hard to share because it’s so freaking good! You can’t find it everywhere so when you do, snag a plate!
2. Masala Corn
Juicy and sweet corn on the cob roasted right in front of you…sigh. Once roasted to perfection, the vendor squeezes a fresh lemon’s juice onto the cob and sprinkles a light salt and pepper combo and sometimes a masala mixture. It is so mouth watering delicious that you really won’t care that there are never any toothpicks around post consuming. Unfortunately I’ve only seen this in the south of India during the winter season though.
3. Roasted Sweet Potato
Shall I say more? Well I will! Imagine, freshly roasted sweet potato peeled right in front of you then covered in fresh lemon juice, sprinkled with masala, salt and pepper and combined with sliced, juicy star fruit! It’s such a random dish but so unreal. Friends and myself often crave this dish and will willingly go searching through the busy streets of Delhi trying to locate the select few vendors offering the tempting treat.
4. Matar Kulcha
One of my favorite lunch items! Kulcha is typically a Punjabi-style bread, similar to naan or chapati and cooked over a fire. The kulcha in Delhi is a little different and is actually quite fluffy like Greek pita bread. When orderingmatar kulcha, they give you one large piece and pan fry it with some butter and fresh herbs. The matar is a combination of chickpeas and/or white kidney beans in a thick gravy filled with spices – I usually add some extra chilies afterwards. My favorite vendor is always really generous with portions and piles on an extra spoonful of matar once I’m halfway through my plate.
I actually discovered this treat in my dear friend Manoj’s shop and never knew the name of it until recently, though I’m still not sure this is exactly what everyone calls it. Matar consists of Maida flour, which is basically just wheat or cake flour, mixed with caraway seeds, some salt and water. It is rolled out thinly and sliced into thin, long strips, which are then fried and eaten once they’ve cool. It’s the perfect snack but extremely addictive. I like to think of them as the Indian version of French fries – just as delicious, unhealthy and yet once you start, you can’t stop!
The best thing about these dishes is they are all smaller sized plates; therefore combining a bunch for dinner really makes for a cool dining experience as you crisscross busy streets and engage in small talk with locals standing around getting their chaat fix. All plates are under 30 rupees each too, extremely budget friendly and great for those with shallow pockets.
It blows my minds that Indians haven’t thought to bring these ideas to Canada yet.
Maybe my next business venture?