Tastes of India, from streets of India

Tastes of India, from streets of India

He sells the traditional snacks bhutte ki kachori, aloo peti, saabudaana pakoda and moongiwaali pakoda to more than 500 people everyday. "I have been selling snacks for the last seven years," the food vendor said. He serves a combo meal -- two kachoris, one alu peti, two moongdal pakodas and two saabudaana pakodas for Rs.28.
From the streets of India
Gosar, along with 20 vendors and 200 cooks from across the country, brought his signature recipes to Delhi at the Street Food Festival-2009 organised by the National Association of Street Vendors at the Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital Ground Wednesday evening.

The festival was an effort to consolidate the unorganised street food trade in India. There are an estimated 10 million street vendors in India, of whom nearly 40 percent sell street food. One third of them are women.

Happy, a 20-year-old vendor from Amritsar, exports his crunchy stuffed naan and chhole to Europe and Middle East. A platter costs Rs.15.
"People come from as far as London to try my naan -- which is typical of Amritsar," Happy said.

"While serving, we crunch the naan in our palms so that it looks crumpled like crushed paper and dab it liberally with butter. That's the way Amritsaris like it."

Basudev Suneja from Patiala sells his lunch platter of makki ki roti, sarson ka sag, mutton sag and rice for Rs.25.

The platters at the festival included popular delicacies like gol gappa, chaat, samosa and jalebis sold across the country and state-speciality food like dhoklas (Gujarat), vada pao (Mumbai), dal bati (Rajasthan), machhli pakoda (Bihar), Bihari mutton (Bihar), litti chokha (Bihar) and dalma rice (Orissa).

"The world of Indian street food -- a great social leveller -- is a parallel culinary universe that sustains millions of foreign tourists who backpack across the country every year and the three million-strong Indian middle class looking for a change of palate outside their kitchens.

"For legions of poor people in the country working outdoors, street food is a lifeline," said Arvind Singh, coordinator of the National Street Vendors Association of India.

"We could survive on street food all our lives after the kind of food we are served in our hostel. Where else can you get a tasty meal for Rs.100?" asked Delhi University student Prashant. He was splitting with friend Mridul a platter of piping hot litti chokha from Bihar.

"Cooking fresh food is always healthy," said Sujata Sahu from Bhubaneswar, who has been vending mini lunch platters of fish curry, dalma and rice in the heart of the Orissa capital for 15 years.

"Dalma is a traditional dal served in the temple of Puri. It is a complete meal made of arhar dal, five different vegetables and 11 spices," explained Sujata's husband.

Frequent crackdowns by municipal authorities have hit his trade, complained vendor Ayodhya Prasad Pradhan, who sells five kinds of stuffed paranthas in the capital's South Ganesh Nagar.

The Supreme Court said in a recent judgement that street food must be prepared and sold in a hygienic manner. "But local municipal corporations, especially in Delhi, have interpreted the order as banning the sale of street food," Singh said. "This is posing a threat to the survival of the vendors."

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