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Street food seems to have taken over the taste buds of most food aficionados. Be it Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata or Chennai or be it Jaipur, Indore, Hyderabad…there is a common thread that ties up the whole of India: the joys of street food, the joy of eating bhelpuri, pani puri, or puchka, moshla moodi, ghugni, dosas, idli-medu vada, sandwiches, vada pao, or drinking the thick milky cutting chai!

The street food of a city or town reveals the food culture of that place. So if a place has a variety of street foods that puts it on the culinary map of a foodie, then that place is probably counted as happening and vibrant with life!

Culinary specialities of different states
Like I mentioned earlier, India being a country of varied cultures and languages, it is dotted a huge plethora of interesting food, of which quite a number can be enjoyed at street corners. Each city has its speciality that attracts tourists from across the country and abroad. Be it the hot jalebis on Lawrence road in Amritsar or the crunchy paneer pakoras, the roll, moshla moodi and puchkas of Kolkata, the matra chaat of Old Delhi, the bhutte ki khees, mawa baati in Sarafa, Indore or then the quintessential bhelpuri, sevpuri, vada pao, samosa, bhajiya, ragda pattice in Mumbai, or the hot idlis, medu vadas, uttapams and dosas down South, all have made life simpler for the hungry person on the move.

Your own roadside recipe book

Here we have some excellent recipes that can be tried out in the comfort of your home, in hygienic conditions with the best of the ingredients. Try them out, for street food has very strong characteristics and is an added pleasure in your daily menus. 

What was the original fast food

Street food does well in all cities and small towns only because of two things: that is freshly prepared and it is low priced. There is no waiting period for the food to be served! Those who lament about the lack of nutrition, or hygiene or lack of proper seating will not be able to appreciate the small pleasures of life. However you can be sure of one thing – that the food that is served is never stale. The turnover is so fast that most of the time the food gets over within minutes of preparation. There are the western burgers, the pizzas and the sandwiches that vie for attention giving the added bonus of comfortable seating in air conditioned environment, but as far as the masses are concerned, Indian street food is a winner all the way as street food is the original fast food and has been around long before burgers and pizzas made their presence felt.

Trade secrets
Chaats are the first food that comes in mind when it comes to street foods! Somehow, the chaat that your local chaat wala sells is always a little different from the same that you would strive to prepare at home! Why? Simply because all vendors have some secret ingredient or method of preparation and that is why food outside is more chatpata. 

Chatpata Chaat

Chaat! Doesn’t the mention of this word set your taste buds watering!! Chaat is very close to what Indian food generally is – chatpata. It is a scrumptious blend of teekha, meetha, khatta, namkeen – absolutely tasty. The word ‘chaat’ is derived from the Hindi verb ‘chaatna’ which literally means ‘to lick one’s fingers clean’. Served cold and sometimes even hot it is a versatile any-time-eat.

All time favourites

There was a time when chaats were an important part of the street foods mostly in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, Meerut, Indore and Calcutta. People swear by the chaats from Indore so much so that they have become an integral part of the menus offered by big caterers. Even in restaurants you will find a variety of chaats displayed prominently on the menu cards. And now chaats are found in plentiful across the length and breadth of India. Wherever you go you get chaat with, of course, the local touch.

Why home made

With chaats being such a favourite snack in most homes where both young and old enjoy them with equal glee it would be a rewarding experience making them at home. This way one can not only assure hygiene but also good value for money. If you are too fond of chaats maybe some of them can be treated as a meal by itself occasionally.

Creativity creats chaats

Creativity is an important ingredient when it comes to creating a new chaat. You can play along with the flavour of black salt, cumin and chutneys …or you can use the technique of fusion and create something like the now very popular Chinese Bhel and Mexican Chaat!

Chat and chaat party

Chaat party can be lot of fun as there is almost negligible cooking involved. You could prepare the chutneys beforehand and freeze them till needed. The puris, sev etc can be bought readymade. All you have to ensure is that the coriander etc for garnishing is as fresh as can be! Chop onions neatly and in small size. In fact, if you can cut the onions some hours before the party and keep them covered, the flavours that come out in the chaat are much better than freshly cut onions. Have boiled sprouted moong, chana, boiled potatoes ready and serve them in deep bowls. In case use of so much crockery alarms you, why not give an authentic touch by serving in leaf plates and bowls?

Sweet, not only savoury!

Then you can make sweet chaats, why only savoury! A Tawa Mithai Chaat is so fancy that it can be included in a wedding menu! Or have the fussy children eat up some fruits in a Mixed Fruit Chaat.

Brunch on chaats

Different avatars of chaats like Baby Uttapa with Aloo Bhaji, Masala Dosa Chaat, Kachori Chaat make heavy snacks fit for a lazy Sunday brunch.

Please the unexpected guests

All you need is some cornflakes cereal and something like a Healthy Cornflakes Bhel can add glory to your tea table instantly. If you have papads and no cereal, then rustle up Urad Dal Papad Chaat!

After school snacks

Hungry, tired, irritable – one way to describe back from school kids. Feed them Papdi Pizza or Chinese Bhel or American Sev Puri. The taste, crunch and presentation are all very satisfactory!

For all reasons and seasons

Chaats are excellent snacks for all occasions and seasons and quintessentially a lovely way to serve Indian food to one and all! 

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