Updated: Dec 3, 2021
India, one of the most populous places in the world, is known for its street food. India’s food is as diverse as its culture. India is one proud nation where every state, every city and perhaps every town has its own specialty. Street food here is famous for its taste, flavors and aroma and most importantly it’s easily accessible to all food lovers irrespective of how heavy or light their wallets are!
India’s love for the food and spices is many many centuries old which proves from the fact that Mānasollāsa, a historical Sanskrit record, which literally means ‘that which exhilarates the mind’ also has chapters on food recipes.
So what makes Indian Street Food so famous?
After studying thousands of Indian recipes researchers believe that the secret behind the delicious Indian food lies in the combination of ingredients which works at molecular level. This technique is so different than western culture... the reason why India cuisine is so unique!
At molecular level every food ingredient has precise chemical compounds. On an average each food ingredient has about 50 flavor compounds. An average Indian dish has at least Seven ingredients; the reason to make any dish so appealing as the flavors rub up against each other to bring the intoxicating aroma, rich texture and heavenly flavor!
List of most famous Street Foods in India by Region
Indian cuisine in various parts of the country has its own USP (Unique Selling Proposition). It mainly reflects the local produce, culture and demographics of the region. Each of these regions follow a wide variety of recipes and cooking techniques and a different use of spices and herbs. Based on this, Indian cuisine can be categorized as southern, western, northern and eastern cuisines.
From the wide variety of street foods available across India here we have picked the Best Indian Street Foods and the Most Popular Indian Street Foods that you simply cannot say no to:
Best Street Foods of South India
Dosa – This is a daily staple food throughout South India. Exact origin of Dosa can be traced back to Karnataka as well as Tamilnadu. Original Dosa from Tamilnadu was thicker and softer; whereas, the Dosa from Karnataka is thinner and crispier. Main ingredients for the dosa batter are rice and black gram grounded together in a fine, smooth batter with salt as per taste. Traditionally, Dosa is served hot with chutney and sambhar.
Idli – Popular as breakfast food of South India, Idlis are made by steaming a fine batter consisting of rice and fermented black lentils. Variants of current day Idli are mentioned in multiple ancient Indian encyclopedias. Idlis are mostly served with a variety of chutneys but are equally delicious when served dipped in sambhar.
Akki Roti – A popular dish from Karnataka, Akki roti is made with rice flour and served with tomato and/or coconut chutney. Hint of onions, tomatoes, carrots and green chilies dressing gives an extra punch of flavors.
Paddu – Mainly a famous south Indian dish but also known as paniyaram, ponganalu and appe in different parts of India. These are made of rice batter and tastes like dosa but with a slight hint of sourness.
Best Street Foods of West India
Vada Pav – Native to Maharashtra and originated in Mumbai, this popular dish consists fried potato vada placed inside a Pav (bread bun) seasoned with red chili powder and fried green chilies.
Misal Pav – A popular dish from Maharashtra consists of pav and a spicy curry called Misal which is mostly made from moth bean sprouts and topped with farsan, chopped onions, slice of lemon and coriander. This dish is served as breakfast, snack and also as full meal. Misal pav has originated in Pune and now has different versions like Puneri Misal, Kolhapuri misal, Khandeshi misal, Black Masala misal, Shev misal and Dahi misal.
Pav Bhaji – This typical Maharashtrian fast food doesn’t need any introduction as it’s popular across the country. This dish consists of buttered pav and thick mix vegetable curry with exotic spices garnished with butter, chopped onion, coriander and slice of lemon.
Dabeli – Originated in Kuch in Gujrat, Dabeli is prepared by stuffing spicy and tangy potato mixture with pomegranate seeds and roasted peanuts in buttered pav. This is then grilled on tawa with butter to make it little crispier which is then garnished with shev.
Best Street Foods of North India
Momos – Momos are native to Tibet and Nepal and have migrated to India as one of the most favorite street food. Momos are steamed dumplings with some type of filling – originally meat which now also has different variants including chicken and veg filling. Momos taste the best when served with spicy red chutney.
Chhole Bhature – This is well known staple breakfast in Punjab. This dish is a combination of Chole, spicy chickpeas and Bhatura, a deep fried bread prepared from maida. Chhole bhature taste best when served hot along with pickle, chopped onions, pudina chutney and lassi.
Kachori – This crunchy treat is from the land of royals – Rajasthan. Kachoris are made with different filling like onion, peas, potato and dal stuffed in maida pockets and deep fried and served with pudina and tamarind chutney.
Aloo Tikki – Well famed Aloo Tikki comes from the land of Nawabs – Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Mashed potatoes mixed with spices are shallow fried to crispy tikkis and are served with tamarind and/or mint chutney, curd and namkeen as per taste.
Litti Chokha – This dish is part of the traditional Bihari cuisine which can be eaten any time of the day - breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. A spicy curry called Chokha is made from smashed potatoes and brinjal and served with Litti which is ball shaped bread made from grams. Spoonful of ghee, pudina chutney and chopped onions adds immense flavors to this tasty dish.
Matar Kulcha – This famous street food hails from Delhi. This simple looking but tasty dish is made with cooked white chana or matar by adding a variety of spices and served with Kulcha, a type of Indian bread. Garnished with ginger juliennes and tomato slices, Matar Kulcha will bring flavors that you will remember forever.
Best Street Foods of East India
Kathi Rolls – This Kolkata based street food is famous across India. Maida based crisp paratha is filled with kebabs or veggies with addition of eggs, onions, mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, mustard and chat masala as per taste. Lots of varieties of Kathi rolls with varying filling are served across the country.
Ghugni Chaat – This Bengali street food is traditionally prepared with cooked white or yellow matar (peas) by adding a bunch of selective spices. Known as Ghugni, this dish is served like a chaat by garnishing it with tomato, coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.
India’s cultural diversity, taste preference across regions and use of locally produced ingredients provides a huge range of delectable street foods to the foodies in the country. The list is so huge that if you try one dish every day then you won’t have to repeat a dish for years! We have listed the most popular ones for you to satisfy your taste buds!
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