We continue with Indian food. As I have already said many times, in India there is a great culture of “eating”: it is eaten anywhere, at any time of the day. Street food, while not all “dietetic” or “healthy” that could be desired (God only knows how many times that oil is reused), has a price that makes it accessible to most of the population. For very little money, you take away your hunger: a plate of noodles, a masala dosaï, fried rice with vegetables … any of these dishes, in one of the countless stalls on the street, will never exceed 15 or 20 rupees. And if you still want to spend less, or just want a snack, for five or, at most, ten rupees you can be equally satiated.
Go for a walk through a big city or through the smallest village in the country, sooner or later you will find one of these places:
The street food par excellence. Something like a dumpling, chubby and triangular, made from a dough of flour, and stuffed with vegetables, potatoes or even meat, less often than not. Watch out! They also carry chili and many spices, so it’s better to have a bottle of water nearby. Once you get used to it, they are very good, and for five rupees you buy a piece (the Indians usually eat them in pairs) that fills you up for a long time.
Fried vegetables, as a donut, in chickpea flour. The most popular are spinach, onion, eggplant, cauliflower … although it is also possible to find meat (chicken). They are taken as a snack, or as an entree at meals. A good cone of newspaper paper full of them costs five rupees on the street.
In the round tray and in the rectangular in the background, pakoras of different types of vegetables.
Flour dough rounded and crushed, stuffed with moong dal (green soy), lentils, chickpeas … All very spicy and fried afterwards. Like the samosas, they usually serve two by two, on a leaf like a bowl, bathed in different sauces. There is also a sweet version, filled with ingredients such as coconut and sugar.
Cooked potato and then fried that can be eaten alone, crumbled and bathed in different sauces (some spicy, and other sweet, to soften its flavour), served on a banana leaf. It is also not uncommon to find them in their original form (that is, without shredding) in hamburgers, as a substitute for meat. It is very popular, and it is seen everywhere. Do you remember that I mentioned that it was the star dish of Pushkar? Even Mexican sandwiches and “tacos” do with it ..
Fritangas in general
There are so many that it would be impossible for me to name them all. For example, in the third picture of this entry (that of the pakoras), you can see some triangular things in the foreground. What are they? Well, nothing more or less than what it seems: mould bread. Bread mold fried in the same flour as the pakoras, with burradas of oil, and sometimes filled with lenjetas or other vegetables. Regarding tastes …
In addition to the fritangas, the amount of carts with nuts, homemade cookies, fruit … is immeasurable. Another of the star appetizers, of which I do not remember the name, is a kind of “salad” made from everything that the man could carry in his car, but especially chickpeas, parsley, tomato, pepper, onion, peanuts … all very minced and seasoned with chili, pepper and a splash of lemon. Despite its light appearance, it fills a lot.
The Indians love sweets. To prove it, you just have to go for a while on any street, and in less than five minutes you stumble upon two or three bakeries full of these little delicacies wrapped in aluminium foil (which, although your first instinct is to remove it, you should know that it is eatable).
Indian sweets are soo sweet. Tremendously cloying, or delicious, depending on what you see. The base of all of them is sugar, flour and milk, to which is added coconut, honey, dulce de leche, pistachio, almond … depending on what you touch. The variety is so much that I’m just going to leave you with the photo, and everyone who imagines what they want …
They look good, right? Its flavour is at the height of its appearance. As a curiosity, the only one that I do not like at all, is also one of the most popular: the Jalebi, a dipped mass in syrup that is poured into a kettle full of oil where it is frying forming the most capricious forms … That is: sugar pure and hard, and fried on top. I only tried it once, and besides not liking it, it produced a terrible stomach ache … but this is only a personal opinion.
To finish the meal, nothing better than a good paan (or so the Indians think): betel nut, lime pulp, spices and many condiments, all wrapped in a leaf, also edible, betel. There are two varieties: the sweet and the salty, which also carries tobacco.
“How to use”: a “little package” is made with it, and it is put a whole in the mouth. Chew slowly, letting the juice pass through the throat; when finished, the rest is spitting out (hence the red spots that are found in each corner … there have been few who, at first, have believed that it is blood!).
In theory, it is taken as a digestive and refreshing mouth, but the betel nut also has narcotic-stimulating properties, and good fans taste it as the best cigarette. It is rare to find an Indian who does not like it, that’s why everyone has red-blackish teeth, since the consumption of betel, in the long run, rots the root of the tooth.
Drinks: the chai
Chai is the national drink: tea with milk, very sweet and almost always, with many spices (masala chai), which give it a very intense flavour. Simply delicious
Chai sellers are countless, and it is not uncommon to find five in the same corner (the Indians have no sense of competition), around which accumulate mountains of ice cubes of small clay containers used as a glass that goes you know why, they are of a single use (with the monkeys that they are, heh).
Drinks: the lassi
From the lassi, we have already spoken many times: yoghurt-based smoothie drink, single (plain lassi), with sugar (sweet lassi) or salt (salt lassi). Within the sweet variety, in any restaurant we can find banana lassi, orange lassi, mango lassi and even chocolate lassi … the options are endless.
Drinks: fruit juices
And to finish, the juices: orange, pineapple, mango, sugar cane … Made with fresh, refreshing and delicious fruit. For the watermelon, which I had not tried so far, I simply do not have words. One warning: if you drink on the street, be careful with water or ice!