There are some fundamental truths that you need to know before embarking on this “road trip”. A bit of familiarity with the dishes and their nomenclature is also helpful. So read on.
The Street Food Glossary
Bhel Puri – a potpourri of puffed rice, roasted lentils and deep-fried gram flour noodles(Sev) tossed in spicy green chutney and tangy sweet sour sauce and seasoned with minced onions, raw mango(during the mango season) and fresh cilantro.
Sev Batata Puri and Dahi Puri – a dish consisting of mashed potato spread over a flat wheat based, deep fried cracker and garnished with pungent green chutney, sweet and sour chutney, freshly minced onions, cilantro and crisp, deep-fried gram flour noodles called ‘Sev’. A dash of yoghurt on this entire spread makes it Dahi Puri. Sometimes Dahi Puri is also made from the hollow, round puris filled with mashed potatoes and minced onions.
Ragda Patties – this is dish where a tangy spicy chick pea based gravy is spread on potato patties and seasoned with the same two chutneys. Ragda Patties is a great favourite in the Khau Gallis of Mumbai, on the sea side stalls that dot the beach on the Marine Drive in Mumbai, the lanes of Law Garden in Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Khan Market in Delhi.
Pau Bhaji – This literally means bread (Pau) and vegetables (Bhaji) and was born on the streets of Mumbai. Its fame spread far and wide and very soon it made its way to Khau Gallis around the country with as many interpretations as there are Gallis. Pau Bhaji is a meal by itself because it consists of a spicy gravy of mixed vegetables seasoned with generous dollops of butter on a huge iron griddle and served with special bread that is also toasted on this griddle. It comes to you with minced onion salad and wedges of fresh lemon. If you are calorie conscious or are subject to health constraints, you can ask the vendor to tone down the butter, or else, just let go and enjoy yourself because it is worth it.
Vada Pav – This is the signature dish of the Khau Gallis of Maharashtra and can be found on the streets of Mumbai, Pune. Simple yet filling, the vada pav is a sandwich made from the same kind of bread that is used for pau bhaji. It consists of a potato filled, spicy deep fried doughnut-like ball called batata vada wedged between a portion of pau that has been slathered with a pungent, red, garlic based chutney. It is tangy and spicy not for those who prefer subtly flavoured or bland dishes!
Samosa – This calorie ridden snack is ubiquitous in every street of India. Samosas consist of spicy vegetable or meat fillings wrapped in a triangular cases made of refined flour and oil or butter and deep fried to a lovely golden brown colour. In some cities, samosas are served with ‘channa’, which is a spicy gravy made from chick peas.