I am finding Indian cuisine to be very ‘filling’ in more ways than one, so I have tried to identify 12 of the most popular street foods in India. This list is compiled from all regions of India, from the mountainous north to the steamy south – and everywhere inbetween!
I have sampled Indian street food in Delhi and Mumbai, and I was shocked at how much variation there is depending on where I am in the country. Mumbai is the undisputed birthplace of street food in India, but what is popular in Mumbai is not necessarily quite as popular further north. Flatbreads and small curries are of course always on sale from roadside vendors here in India, as well as endless variations of small sweets and savoury snacks. In general, the market vendors here in India are friendly and helpful, although you should always consider the food you are eating and whether it meets your minimum ‘health and safety’ standards. Otherwise, Delhi Belly (or the “Bombay Bomb”) is a pre-requisite, I’m afraid.
Aloo Tikki is a North Indian snack made of boiled potatoes and various spices. It is found in almost every chaat shop or stall in Delhi as well as in other parts of India. It is sometimes served hot along with various condiments such as tamarind, yogurt, or mint sauce. In Mumbai, a popular variation of aloo tikki is called “Ragda Pattice” which is served with spicy curry.
Mirchi Bada basically means “chili cutlet” and is a spicy Indian snack originating in Rajasthan. Consisting of chili and potato stuffing, it is served hot with tomato sauce or occasionally with mint and tamarind chutney. It is very filling for its size.
Although this dish can be eaten as a main course, I always found the Bhaji (especially the onion bhaji) to be one of the more common street foods in India. It is one of the most widely-known and widely-consumed Indian snack around the world, but what I love most about the bhaji is that it remains a staple snack for ordinary Indians!
Everybody must know about Samosa? They are baked products that can contain any meat or filling imaginable, and although they are a staple street food of the Indian diet, Samosas are also associated with the Middle-East and North East Africa.
Chhena Gaja is an extremely sweet dish from Orissa in India. They are prepared by mixing chhena (cheese) and semolina and moulded into small shapes where they are then boiled. Before consumption, the chhena gaja is often coated with sugar. The sweetness of this unique street food snack leaves everybody coming back for more!
Pani Puri consists of a round and hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavoured water (“pani”), tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion, and chickpeas. It is generally small enough to fit completely into one’s mouth. It is a popular street food dish in Mumbai and Kolkata, as well as Delhi where it is known as “Gol Gappa”.
Sadaar Pav Bhaji is a kind of bread that is usually cooked fresh while you wait served with spicy vegetables. This is a very popular street food dish in the west of India, and in particular Mumbai and Pune.
Bhelpuri is a savoury Indian snack, and is also a type of chaat. It is made out of puffed rice, vegetables and a tangy tamarind sauce. Bhelpuri is often identified with the beaches of Mumbai, though it is thought to have originated on the region’s street food stalls.
A major breakfast snack in the state of Karnataka is Akki Roti. This is a rice pancake that is served piping hot and eaten with chutney. Vegetables can be added to the baking process to give the pancake additional flavour.
Chicken Lollipops are certainly a novel item, and they originate from the state of Kerala. These snacks are not only seen on street corners being sold to passers by, but are also fairly common as treats for kids on weekends and special occasions. These appetizers are made from the middle segments of chicken wings, and are deep-fried before being tossed into a sauce of your choice, with garlic paste or chili paste being added for good measure.
The traditional Dosa is eaten all over Southern India, and is made from rice, potato, methi, and curry leaves, and served with Chutneys and Sambar. It is typically eaten for breakfast on the street.
One of the typical Indian-style burgers you will find being sold as street food around the country is Vada Pav. This vegetarian speciality originates from Mumbai, but has since spread around the country. With wholesome contents of aloo tikki (potato fritter) in the bun, Vada Pav is typically served with a chutney. This dish was initially started as the most cheapest form of a meal for working class Indians, but due to its taste it became so popular that many upmarket hotels also began offering this dish to their patrons.
What has been your favourite street food while travelling through India? Anything from my list that takes your fancy?