Indian street food at its finest. When I see those carts on the side of the road with groups of people huddled around, I know this is one of the most important and unique slices of Indian life. This is where the locals meet and eat, and they know where the best street food is in town.
Street food is a regional thing. Each city in India has their own specialty. Mumbai is famous for vada pav. Varanasi serves a mean pani puri. And don't even think about passing up the aloo chaat in Delhi.
I'm not sure if the West has an equivalent to the street food phenomenon in India. Sure, New York has her hot dogs. And food trucks are popping up all over the US, feeding Korean spare ribs and Cuban fish tacos to savvy downtown workers. But street food in India is not a quick bite in between spreadsheets. It's much more important than that....
When you see those huddles of people around a wooden cart in the early evening or late night, something is being said. It's a kind of celebration in congregation. It's a group thing. These masses of people in the bazaar devouring treats on newspaper or banana leaves. It's a kind of silent message that everyone understands - we're in this together. The real joys of life don't have to be expensive. They can be simple and cheap. This is the real India - doing life together. Celebrating another day. I like that message.
Intrigued? Scared? Willing to tread where some angels fear?? Get started on your Indian street food journey, and you'll be a pro in no time!
Here's a modified recipe. Most ingredients can be found at your grocery store and a few at your handy Indian grocery close by.
1 cup chickpeas (cooked)
1 tomato (peeled)
1 small red onion
1 bunch cilantro leaves
1 green chili
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon chaat masala (at Indian grocery store)
1/4 teaspoon black salt (at Indian grocery store)
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
red chili powder
1. Peel, boil, and cut the potato into cubes.
2. Finely chop the peeled tomato, red onion, green chili, and cilantro leaves.
3. Mix this with the cooked chickpeas and cubed potato.
4. Add chaat masala, salt, red chili powder, cumin powder, and black salt. Mix well.
5. Squeeze lemon or lime juice over mixture. Stir well.
6. Serve chilled, garnished with cilantro leaves.