So what’s street food in India like anyway? Every nation has vendors on the streets serving hungry bystanders quick, and usually not healthy food and snacks, and India is no different. Each city in this delightful nation has folks slinging food for a living…more deep-fried street food than you can shake a stick at, so you will by no means starve when spending time in India. If you ever decide to visit this very unique part of the world, here’s a little list of the kind of goodies you can expect you find from street vendors to sate your hunger.
- Chaats. Chaats are to India what burgers are to America…sort of like a universal snack food (and by ‘universal,’ we mean within the country). These little treats are fried finger foods that come in a huge variety of textures and flavors. Often times, they are either sweet or savory and are offered with a variety of dipping sauces. This is pretty much THE fast food of India.
- Pani Puri. This one has a different name depending on which region of India you’re visiting. But the food is still pretty much the same thing across all regions. They are little deep-fried balls of dough; sometimes, they are hollowed out and filled with potatoes, onions and sweet chutney and served with a minty dipping sauce.
- Samosas. You may have heard this word before, but didn’t know what it meant. A samosa is an originally Indian food that is quite widely available from street vendors throughout the country. Typically, these are pastries filled with potatoes, onions and spices, but may also contain lamb and are served with chutney. The overall rating on this deep-fried snack is quite high, so we suggest trying it sometime.
- Rasgula and rasmalai. A popular dessert food in India, rasgula is a distinctive food consisting of balls of cheese covered in sugary syrup. Rasmalai is a little bit different, but like rasgula, is a dessert made with cheese. The latter of the two is a large cheese dumpling covered with a clotted sweet cream sauce. Sounds unusual, but hey, look at some of the crap Americans eat and suddenly, these sweet and cheesy treats actually sound pretty appetizing. This is, of course, not to say Indian food is crap; au contraire, it’s quite succulent. It just helps if you don’t think corn dogs and frozen pizza are exotic food.
- Desi-Chinese (also called Indo-Chinese). Aside from the local munchies, there’s quite a bit of food in India that is their own interpretation of Chinese meals. Kind of like what America does – the Chinese food you find in the US is incredibly different from traditional Chinese fare. Anyway, most Desi-Chinese dishes are vegetable-based (like real Chinese food, not American-belly-stroking meaty Chinese food); we suggest trying the Vegetable Fried Rice or Gobi Manchurian. How can you go wrong with the delicious offspring of Indian and Chinese cooking?
- Chicken. India is home to innumerable chicken dishes – Tandoori chicken is one such option, and quite a delectable one at that. It’s comprised of chicken roasted over super-hot coals in a clay oven and seasoned with spices, curry and yogurt. Very spicy, this meal is. Like about 90 percent of all Indian foods.
- If you think you love spicy food because you like Taco Bell’s tacos with their mild sauce, you’ll be in for a major shock if you eat Indian cuisine. A whole lot of the food in India you’ll find being offered by street vendors are loaded with chili powder, so be sure to bring your Prilosec if you intend to eat anything offered in India.
- Many foods, both mentioned and not mentioned here, are perishable. Eat hot food that is hot and cold food that is cold; if either are luke-warm, they’ve been sitting out for quite a while and are probably beginning to spoil. In addition, please take note that having loose bowels after consuming Indian cuisine does not always necessarily mean you’ve been poisoned; getting the runs is often times a typical part of the Indian dining experience.