Indian Street Food: Understanding North Indian Street Food Terminology

Why an Indian Street Food Hub?

I’ve just finished reading a popular blog article by Naomi on how as a foreigner in India, she never really tried out the Indian Street Food as she never understood the ingredients.

Well, I’d be – that should be absolutely the last reason why anyone should not try the amazingly tasty and incredible variety of Indian Street Food. No one should ever have that complaint, so here’s a dictionary of the most popular items.

What are day-to-day snacks for the average Indian has been coined ‘Indian Street Food’ by the West. While these items are definitely available on the streets as they are cheap to make, are pretty tasty and widely popular, the same are also found in the best eateries, bakeries and sweet shops across the country. Those particular about cleanliness, hygiene et all only have to look for the nearest decent shop and enjoy the taste. No need to miss out for these issues at least!

So let’s unravel the mystery right away….

North Indian Street Food - Samosa

North Indian Street Food - Piping hot Samosas!
North Indian Street Food - Piping hot Samosas! | Source

Samosa

Arguably amongst the most popular of Indian snacks, the humble Samosa is a world famous Indian Street Food thanks to its simplicity and easy availability. If you’ve ever eaten fried dumplings, you’ve had the Tibeten cousin of the Samosa.

Shape and Size

Triangular in shape, the samosa comes in several sizes, from the cocktail samosa(about 2 inches), the normal samosa(about 3-4 inches) to jumbo versions(5-6 inches) that are as good as meal in themselves.

Origin/ Most Popular in

Punjab/North India

Ingredients

The samosa is made of a maida (refined wheat flour) cover, stuffed with a mixture of mashed potatoes, peas etc at the basic level. The more exotic varieties are stuffed with mixtures of cottage cheese, keema(minced meat), chicken etc. The stuffing is packed in a maida cover, folded and deep fried in vegetable ghee(purified butter).

Most Popular Version

Potato stuffing version, with a mix of peas or peanuts

Variants

Stuffing - Cheese, Dal(pulses), chicken shreds, chicken keema(shredded meat), mutton(lamb/goat meat) keema. Samosas at times are served with a combination of boiled grams, curd(yoghurt) and tamarind chutney or sauce.

Dish Size – Small, medium and extra large. If you ask for a plate of samosas you are likely to get a pair.

Health Scale

Samosas are deep fried in edible oil and to that extent, are considered unhealthy by the diet conscious as an average samosa is pretty filling. That besides, all ingredients are well boiled and being hot cooked, can be considered safe. Be careful, however, of the chutney or indigenous sauce accompanying the samosa, which is best avoided in cheap joints. Stick to the branded bottled versions, and here too check for the quality being served.

How To Make Video(Sanjeev Kapoor)

Average cost of most popular version.

· Street – Rs 5-10

· Restaurant – Rs 10

· High end Hotel – Rs 30-50

How to Prepare Video Want to make your own Samosas at home? Help is at hand right across in this video

Indian Street Food : Golgappa or Pani Puri

Indian Street Food : Golgappa or Pani Puri
Indian Street Food : Golgappa or Pani Puri | Source

Golgappa(Pani Puri)

If there were an Indian Street Food snacks popularity index, the Golguppa(also known as Pani Puri) would be right up there. An all time favorite for its tangy taste, easy availability and variety of flavors, the Panipuri can found at practically any street across the length and breadth of India.

The panipuree are maida(refined flour) based fried, puffed balls, filled on-the-spot with a tangy mixture of flavored water that explodes in your mouth with every piece. The feeling is one to be experienced for yourself, and no amount of writing can begin to even come close to describing it!

The water itself may be any one of a large variety – spicy, sweet, heeng or hing(Asafoetida), black pepper, mint et all being the most popular. A word of caution here; water being the carrier of most diseases, it is recommended people with a delicate digestive system should stick to good quality restaurants using filtered water. A fair number of vendors have now started using mineral water and advertise this prominently, so that should be safe as well.

Golgappas are also available in packs at several bakeries and street restaurants, so you can carry them home and make your own version of the flavored water at home.

Shape and Size

Golgappas vary in size from about an inch and a half to about 3 inches in diameter, the aim being the whole piece should fit into your mouth at one go. You can easily recognize the stacks displayed prominently inside glass cases on street carts selling this popular Indian Street Food snack. Street vendors also tend to keep the flavored water in large earthern pots to keep it cool, and the bright red color cloth covering the pots are your biggest clue to identifying them from afar.

Origin/Most Popular in

I wouldn’t be able to put a finger on this one, though North Indian and Maharashtra/Mumbai are the most likely ones for this snack now popular across the country.

Ingredients

The golguppa itself is generally made of maida(finely sieved flour), and some specialists also make it from wheat flour. The flavored water combines a variety of spices in various combinations to get their specific flavor, to include tamarind, mint leaves, black pepper, salt, sugar, heeng. Often vendors tend to add diced boiled potatoes or boiled black grams to add to the flavor. Ice may be added at times as Panipuri best tastes cold, and you may like to confirm the quality of ice used from the vendor.

Most popular version

The most popular version perhaps would be the tangy tamarind flavored taste, with the sweeter version of the same coming in a close second due to its being somewhat less spicy.

Variants

Most common vendors keep the above two basic flavors to keep their business going, though I am aware of at least a couple who keep as many as seven! One variant a lot of vendors keep is the curd mix panipuri, where the flavored water is replaced by a more dense mixture of boiled potatoes, gram, bhalla(minced dal based soft puffs), curd(yoghurt), topped with sweet and tangy chutney(tamarind and mint sauce).

Dish Size

Golgappas generally sell in sets of four, six or ten, depending on the vendor and your capacity to eat.

Health Scale

Panipuri or Golgappas on the street are definitely high risk for water-borne diseases since the water used is uncooked, and are most likely to cause an upset stomach at the very least. However the way out is to stick to quality professed joints that use only mineral or filtered water.

Make Healthy Indian Street Food at home : Pani Poori

Average cost of most popular version.

· Street – Rs 10-30 for set of six.

· Medium Restaurant – Rs 30-50 for set of six

· High end Hotel – Generally not served

How to Prepare Video Want to make your own Pani Puri at home? Help is at hand right across in this video



Indian Street Food : Papadi Chaat

Tasty and Tangy Indian Street Food Papri Chaat
Tasty and Tangy Indian Street Food Papri Chaat | Source

Papadi(Papri) Chaat/Bhalla Chaat

The first cousin of Paanipuri, and equally popular, is the Papadi(Papri) Chaat and the Bhalla Chaat. If you have just tried your hand at Paanipuri, 99% chances are you will find Papadi Chaat and Bhalla Chaat on the same cart.

Papadi is the flattened version of the Golgappa, to make it into a Chaat, is mixed with an assortment of items like the Bhalla(dal or pulses based Vada soaked in water for softness) boiled potatoes and grams, curd(yoghurt) topped with tamarind and mint sauces with slices of ginger to add to the flavor. Simply put, the difference between a papari chaat and a bhalla chaat is just that the former does not have the soft bhalla included, which is soft and is sometimes not preferred by those who like the purely crispy version.

Shape and Size

Papadis in general are a couple of inches across, though at some places they make them four to five inches across and then crush it to make the chaat. A plate of chatpati chaat(tangy flavored chaat) is generally a hot favorite of most excursions to the market that involve some amount of eating as well.

Origin/Most Popular in

I wouldn’t be able to put a finger on this one either, though Punjabi Chaat is generally how it is now popular across the country.

Ingredients

The papadi itself is a salty pancake of sorts generally made of maida(finely sieved flour), deep fried to make it crisp. The add ons include the Bhalla (pulses based puffed ball), boiled potatoes, boiled grams, sliced ginger, curd, sweet as well as tangy tamarind and mint sauces.

Most popular version

The most popular version perhaps would be the bhalla chaat which is an assortment of all the above items.

Variants

One variety that comes to mind is the pure bhalla chaat, wherein no crispy Papadis are used. Other variants may include different add-ons, like sev(crisp vermicelli), pomegranate seeds, crushed pani puri. Chaats also come in drier versions less the curd(yoghurt) with other toppings such as white gram, boiled potatoes, onion etc.

Dish Size – You should be able to easily consume a plate of Papadi chaat or bhalla chaat, which is served in a standard quarter plate.

Make Healthy Street Food at Home : Papadi Chaat

Health Index

Most of the ingredients in the Papadi Chaat are either fried or boiled hence considered safe. However the only uncooked stuff are the curd and the sauces, which can mildly upset your stomach if not made neatly. Again, I would recommend those with a sensitive digestive system to stick to the decent restaurants for this piquant treat.

Average cost of most popular version.

· Street – Rs 20-30 for a full plate.

· Medium Restaurant – Rs 30-60 per plate.

· High end Hotel – Generally not served

How to Prepare Video Want to make your own Papadi chaat at home? Help is at hand right across in this video



More Coming In This Space!

Wow! When I started writing this piece I thought it’s a one-day job. Turns out there’s much more to Indian snacks than I bargained for, so I’m gonna have to break this up.

More great Indian street snacks and Indian street food descriptions coming up in my next hub – so keep coming back here for updates!

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Ahdilarum profile image

Ahdilarum 2 years ago

Paani puri is still my favourite and most of the Indians liked it, eve though it will be sold in streets.

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