Street Food and Local Restaurants in India that you must visit to try or eat at least once
Indian food is most delicious food in the world! Okay, maybe not the sole winner among food around the world, but Indian dishes are definitely some of the most loved snacks and dinners in the world. Street food in India is a delight to the senses – from Indian Chaat, to Indian fast food, from Indian chicken curry to kachori. I’ve asked a few friends of mine to talk about their best Indian food, from Indian restaurants to street vendors across the length and breadth of the country. So here goes – mouth watering, delicious, lip smacking Indian food!
1. Amritsari Fish Fry
By Sarah from A Social Nomad
We had been in India for a couple of months before we tried street food. And it was in the glorious city of Amritsar that we cracked. It was well worth the wait. Friends from South India had given us a list and Amritsari Fish fry was at the top of it.
It was in the far Punjab that we found ourselves looking for the fish fry that the city is famous for. Sure there were restaurants that served it, but, the street food stalls, our foodie friends said was much, much better.
Amritsari Fish Fry is simple. Batter of spices, garlic, ginger and cumin is added to a white fish fillet. It’s fried in oil, which I didn’t look at the age or condition of. Chaat masala is sprinkled on the finished product and its eaten with raw white onions which you squeeze lemon onto. Eat with your hands at a bench in front of the street vendors stall.
The Punjab is known as the land of 5 rivers, hence freshwater fish is a key part of Punjabi cuisine. The fish that you’ll find in Amritsari Fish Fry is freshwater Sole and Singhara from the Harike Pattan and Beas rivers.
2. Cane Juice
By Jenny from Travelynn Family
Cane juice is sold from street-stalls all over India and costs anything from Rs10 to Rs50. It’s that perfect sweet refreshment from the heat, particularly on those humid days. Sugar cane is crushed through a hand-operated machine with a turning drum and the squeezed juice is then collected in a glass. It’s perfectly safe to drink, but for hygiene, you may want to clean the glass yourself, and say no to ice. Otherwise pour into your own bottle to take away. Even though it contains sugar, it’s a natural sugar, and the juice is packed with nutrients and antioxidants to boost the immune system and give you a natural kick of energy.
We travelled all over India with kids (aged 2 and 3) and our boys absolutely loved cane juice. The sellers would often give them a cutting of the actual sugar cane to chew after drinking their glasses.
3. Lassi in Jaipur
Pic by Cat from Walk My World
Lassis are a street food favourite in India, a yoghurt drink that’s especially good after a fiery curry!
We first found out about the Lassi walla shop in Jaipur from another local café owner. When we complimented their lassis, they recommended we also try the Lassi walla, which they said was the best in the city of Jaipur. It’s hugely popular with locals, we saw many people coming to pick up big orders for offices. You won’t find the fruity flavours here, it’s all about the traditional recipes. You have a choice of sweet, salty or plain, and for 30 rupees (45c USD) you’ll have the best lassi you will ever try. We opted for sweet which was delicious, in fact it was so good, we went back for seconds!
4. Ice Gola, Mumbai
By Ketki from Dotted Globe
If you are visiting Mumbai and looking for ways to beat the heat and the humidity then you can’t go wrong by choosing a bright, flavorful ice gola or a snowcone. This quintessential Mumbai street food has been the favorite of tourists and locals since generations. For some of the best ice golas in the city, visit the beaches of Juhu or Girgaum and select the raw mango or kala khatta flavors – my personal favorites! If you are feeling health conscious and wary about the quality of ice golas served by the beachside shacks, then visit some of the upscale snow cone eateries in the city including Gogola, Pooja Malai Gola and many others.
5. Tandoori Chicken
By Helene from Masala Herb
My all time favorite Indian Street food is Tandoori Chicken. We used to prepare this amazing marinated baked chicken in our Takeaway place in Goa and since that I have been making this delicious dish even at home! A whole young chicken is quartered and marinated in a flavorful curd based spicy sauce for hours before it’s baked in a so called tandoori oven. A tandoori oven is traditionally made out of clay and this cooking oven is mostly used in the north Indian region of Punjab. But the tandoori dish and the oven may have been inspired by the Moghuls, who ruled India before the British arrived. The curd helps in keeping the chicken on the inside moist and the spices get infused deeply into the meat. That is why this street food is a such a popular dish all over India and most people enjoy it with butter garlic nans. Tandoori Chicken is a Punjabi specialty but you really can’t miss it anywhere in Goa. It’s one of the most common beach shack specialties in Goa these days, as it has gained a huge popularity among foreign travelers from all overt the world as well.
6. Momo Dumplings in the Himalayas
By Allan from Live Less Ordinary
Momos in India are somewhat synonymous with eating in the Himalayas, where regional influences share a mix of Asian foods such as Indian, Chinese, Nepalese, and Tibetan cuisine. Meaning it is therefore a great place to eat. But the obvious staple in the region is most definitely the Momo where it can be found at pretty much every restaurant and kitchen of the tin-roofed shacks dotted throughout the ranges. At its simplest the Momo is a steamed flour dumpling, with fillings of various meats and veg, often served with a side of hot broth. For some added flavour to this simple snack there will also be condiments of chilli sauce and dark soy set on the table. With obvious Chinese influences, momos are compared to Jiaozi dumplings of nearby China, although they also resemble Gyoza dumplings of Japan when shallow fried.
7. Bun Maska and Chai in Mumbai
By Chandni from Wishful Wanderer
Bun Maska and Chai, the perfect pair, available everywhere from the streets to the Irani cafes in Mumbai, is not just a food item. Bun Maska and Chai is an emotion. Bun maska, freshly baked bun with a generous spread of white butter; chai, an Indian version of piping hot tea with milk, has been a favourite amongst locals and expats for years now. The ideal way to enjoy this delicious snack is by dipping the spongy buttered bun into the hot cup of tea and biting into it, relishing it one bite at a time! A few places where you can sit and enjoy this local treat are Britannia & Co., Good Luck Cafe, Yazdani Bakery, Kyani Bakery and many more.
8. Egg Roll in Kolkata
By Sinjana from Backpack & Explore
Kolkata’s egg roll is no longer the city’s best-kept secrets. From Bengaluru to Mumbai, the “Kolkata kati roll” outlets have popped up everywhere now. The recipe is simple, you have a paratha which is rolled with the omelette and then sprinkled with onion rings, chopped cucumber, green chilly sauce and little bit of tomato sauce. Yes, it is that simple and it is best kept that way- the paratha must be made of white flour (maida) and not your healthy multigrain atta. Remember, the essence of egg roll is not the egg but the perfectly made paratha. And please excuse us the broccoli and lettuce and all other veggies you can think of. Kolkata egg rolls rock the world with their simplicity.
9. Pani Puri in Mumbai
By Sarah from The Winged Fork
About 50 years ago in Mumbai, a small street stall opened on Bandra’s Hill Road selling yumtastic pani puri to the tired and hungry shoppers who needed a break. Soon everyone started eating at Elco Pani Puri Centre and they became famous. The chaat and pani puri stalls are iconic in Mumbai and serve many mouth watering treats. Over time their dahi kachori, pani puri, ragda pattice, cocktail juice and dahi kachori became synonymous with food here.
The Dahi Puri is a perfect blend of sweet and salty, tangy and spicy. The little crisp balls called golgappas are stuffed with a mashed potato filling topped with moong beans and crunchy salty boondi. A sweet khajoor or date chutney and a spicy pundina or mint water then drench the puris. This is followed by a sweet dahi, some spicy red chilly powder and finally chopped coriander. The best way to eat them is to put the entire puri or gol gappa in your mouth at once. The rush of different flavors is tantalising. If you’re ever in Bandra, Mumbai, you have to try some.
In fact street food in Mumbai, at places like Colaba Causeway, Mohammed Ali Road, Juhu Chowpatty and other places is so yummy, Mumbai could well be on the list of best cities in Asia to eat street food.
10. Jalebis in Jodhpur
By Andra from Our World to Wander
If you ever reach Jodhpur, then you should try some jalebis from a famous guy, Motu Jalebi Wala, who sells them near Juni Mandi market. Jalebis are a really sweet traditional Indian dessert, made by deep-frying flour in shapes (mostly circular) and then soaking them in sugar. I can honestly say it’s the sweetest dessert I have ever eaten, and this makes it addictive as hell. I have eaten them in many areas of India, but for sure the ones in Jodhpur were the best. And eating them with the locals only made them tastier.
11. Pao Bhaji
By Leticia from Happee Travelers
Indian food can be quite tricky to understand, especially if you don’t understand their names. Don’t let this get you down, though. Indian food is absolutely delicious and the street food is full of flavor, variety and available everywhere. One of my all-time favorite Indian food, pao bhaji consists of a thick-gravy vegetarian curry made of smashed vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, and cauliflowers, served with pao, a soft round bread, and some butter. Not traditionally from the area, it’s very easy to find in Jaipur and other Indian cities in all sorts of restaurants, especially food stalls in the middle of the streets. The street version is much spicier than the restaurant ones, so keep that in mind. It’s a delicious, healthy, vegetarian food, and if you’d like, you can ask for it without butter. It’s a must try food if you’re in India!
12. Shrewsbury Biscuits from Kayani’s Bakery, Pune
By Jacky from Nomad Epicureans
One of the must-dos in Pune is without a doubt a visit to Kayani’s Bakery in the morning. As a deliciously sweet aroma fills the air, hundreds of people strive to get their hands on one thing: the iconic Shrewsbury Biscuits. These biscuits have been a staple in Punekar households since the Irani bakery opened its doors in 1955. With their buttery lightness and subtle sweetness, it is not difficult to see why these biscuits usually sell out before lunchtime. Although they may appear plain, they are simply perfection and will melt in your mouth. If you are looking for a little variety, Kayani’s also sells chocolate biscuits as well as an array of delicious cakes.
13. Banana Leaf Curry at College House Anna Meenakshi Restaurant in Madurai
By Kylie Gibbon from Our Overseas Adventures
Madurai and all of Tamil Nadu is a foodie paradise, but there’s one place you should be sure to check out when visiting – the institution that is College House, to try a traditional Southern Indian banana leaf curry.
Served thali style, you’re given a banana leaf as your plate, and the server comes around placing the different sauces and rice onto it. There’s no cutlery here – you’re expected to use your hands and eat it Indian style with your right hand. The thali is all vegetarian and absolutely delicious with a mix of mild and spicy dishes. Service is a bit take it or leave it, but it’s worth it to try this delicious dish!
While you’re there be sure to sample the delicious Southern Indian style coffee, a milky version made with coffee beans from neighbouring Kerala.
There’s always that favorite Indian snack food or Indian dishes that may be missing. If there’s something from the Indian food market that you’d like to add here, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a pic and a description and I just might add it. Toodles!