Skip to main content

Finger licking good



You cannot escape its tantalising aroma as you cross the street and the mere mention of some of these preparations is sure to get your mouth watering. Yes! You guessed it right. I am talking about the rich variety of our yummy street food.
Earlier on, no mohalla (neighbourhood), worth its name was complete without these street hawkers who would come to sell their preparation, especially to the women folk during afternoons. Street food today ranges from simple snacks like chaat, paani puri, sev, chuskis, jalebis to full meals like aloo puri, fried rice, chowmein, aloo matar kulcha for the working masses.
Every Indian city has a special trademark ‘street food’ where it is a part of everyday life to take a snack break while catching up with the day’s gossip. Let us dig a bit deeper from one end of the country to the other.
Delhi, the nation’s capital, could well be called the street food capital of the country. Dilliwallas, I think would like to take credit for the one-of-its kind fare called chaat, but history points slightly in the direction of Uttar Pradesh. Then again one is reminded of the fact that both Delhi and UP were a single unit till we gained Independence.
Chaat, the mere mention of its name brings to mind a range of lip smacking, tangy and spicy delicacies. This could be a combination of seasonal fruits cut in easy-to-eat chunks or a mix of boiled potatoes, chickpeas and papri. Garnished with a range of masalas and herbs like coriander leaves, a chaat preparation generally uses strained curd and thus has a cooling effect on our system and also diminishes any strain that the spices or chillies might exert.
From this simple chaat up in the north, the name undergoes a change as soon as a little variation is introduced in its form. Here we are talking about the paani puri. They are called bataasha in UP, referred to as gol gappas anywhere else in the north as well as in Mumbai and Gujarat and lovingly called puchkas in Kolkata. These little water balls are a fiery delight.  Made up of maida or sooji,  the paani puri has found a translation in chaat terms with much the same use of ingredients like boiled potatoes and chickpeas, chutneys and curds as any other preparation.
Bhel is another popular cousin of chaat. Made up of puffed rice, prepped with onion juliennes, chopped tomatoes, boiled potatoes, groundnuts, the typical masalas like amchoor and garam masala, this is a hot favourite with those who are watching their calorie intake. In Kolkata this snack, with a little alteration, makes for the famous jhaal muri. Jhaal is the local word for chilly. So jhaal muri refers to a spicy combination of muri or puffed rice with jhaal or chilly as per your taste. Mustard oil is sprinkled towards the end as a final touch to the muri preparation.
We will find out more about other delicious street offerings next time.

(The post appeared first as an article in the The New Indian Express on August 17, 2012)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reusable cotton pads: My first experience

I had been trying to bring changes for a sustainable living for a while now and using reusable cotton pads for Aunt Flo's monthly visits was an idea that appealed massively to my senses. After searching here and there I found a Kolkata based manufacturer- Shomota- who were also involving women from underprivileged background in manufacturing these pads as well as sharing the profit from sales to make these pads available to girls and women in interiors of West Bengal. BONUS point- I have also come to realise that sustainability is more efficient and worthwhile if you choose local. Also the fact that we are dumping non biodegradable waste on the planet and that is equal to some sort of violence in my head and I have been brought up on the beliefs laid by the Arya Samaj movement, I needed a better option than the mass marketed sanitary pads. I looked and examined a few option that I realised were available to me before making up my mind on the reusable cloth pad.

Why I chose cloth p…

Of new resolutions and newer authors

The year has started on the right note. I have already read two authors whom I had not read before falling hard for the one being hailed as Japanese Steig Larrson- Keigo Hagashino.
That is what got me thinking about new year resolutions  (I know we are done with the first quarter) which I haven't made in years. So here is a list of authors that I would like to sample this year.
-
1. Manu Joseph
2. Pico Iyer
3. Anthony Horowitz
4. Margret Atwood
5. Toni Morrison
6. Chimamanda Adichie
7. Jo Nesbo
8. Neil Gaiman
9. Terry Pratchett 10. Alice Munro
But I also realise the futility of making a list like this as there are just so many authors, poets, writers and just so many works coming to fore everyday. A book group might help, you would think but let me tell you that it complicates things further. New recommendations, fantastic and not so fantastic reviews, pictures, blog posts and what not really makes matter well,complicated.
All said and done, it is but human to try and so I shall …

The Happiness Connection

Suicides by two hugely popular public figures- Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain- within three days of each other.

One a fashion designer and business woman par excellence and another a famous cook, TV personality.

There have been many others before them. Though I knew just a thing or two about them the news about Robin William's suicide was heartbreaking for me. I remember thinking how could someone who laughed so much and made people laugh, do that. While there is so much being written in the social media about mental health in light of these two suicides I was stuck by a particular post in part on Ariana Huffington's Instagram feed. It is a Repost of a tweet by editor Elaine Welteroth and says:

..... And in your death we are reminded once again that there is simply no correlation between happiness and success.

How true is that! We have no idea about what makes us happy. It is easy to confuse happiness with material things, isn't it? Getting a Kate Spade bag any day would…