India’s street food is something that is synonymous with the country as a whole. It is a well-known fact that if you are visiting India some of the best food you will eat during your stay can be bought from street vendors. Delhi and Mumbai are often cited as Meccas for street food lovers, but India is a huge country with plenty of varieties of street food. Kolkata, in the state of Bengal, was India’s capital during the British Raj until 1911. Today it has a population of more than 14 million – meaning a lot of mouths to feed on a daily basis.
Street food offers a quick, cheap and convenient way of eating good food fast. Kolkata is commonly known as the cultural capital of India, so here is a quick culinary cultural tour of the city:
One of the most iconic street foods available in the city, this dish is also known as golgappa or panipuri. Phuchka is a light, crisp shell filled with a spicy potato mix that has been dipped in tamarind water. This bite-sized snack offers the perfect combination of spicy, sour, crunch and melt-in-the-mouth smooth, which virtually explodes when you take a bite. Churmur is a variation of phuchka; much the same ingredients are used and crushed, with chutney added for extra flavour and texture.
Bhelpuri / Jhalmuri
In the same way that fish and chips are traditionally served in newspaper, so too is bhelpuri. It is a mixture including muri (puffed rice), onions, potatoes, and coriander, tossed in sweet chilli and tamarind chutneys. Eat with your fingers or with the wooden spoon that often accompanies it. Add coconut, peanuts, lentils and mustard oil and you have jhalmuri (uniquely Kolkatan and also served in a newspaper pouch).
The simplest way to describe telebhaja is a selection of vegetables deep-fried in batter. As delicious as it is sinful, there is no end to the vegetables that can be used to create this crispy snack. Onions, potatoes, aubergine and pumpkin are popular choices, but you can also find green mango, ginger and coriander leaves being used too. Whatever is to hand, really.
Kolkata’s street food doesn’t just cater for the vegetarian diner, there’s plenty of meat on offer too. A kathis roll is essentially a parantha filled with tender, juicy chunks of chicken or mutton along with onion, chilli and chutney. Veggie versions use paneer or egg to equally tasty effect.
This dish is typical of Bengal and is made using yellow or white peas, fresh coriander, coconut, onion, chillies, tomatoes, tamarind water and spices. Accompany with a spoonful of sweet tamarind chutney and you have the perfect taste of Bengali cuisine.
For food you can find on the streets of Kolkata – or many other streets across India – head to one of London’s popular Indian brasseries . Each and every bite of the street food on offer will transport you to India and is filled with a wonderful explosion of flavours. The perfect food to get you licking your fingers with every bite.