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 favortie Indian food, from best 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 in Punjab
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 everywhere in India
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 in 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 all over India
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. Dahi 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 anywhere in India
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.
14. Paan in Delhi or anywhere in India
By Chantell from Travel for Your Life
Paan is made from betel leaf and areca nut. It’s considered an after-dinner treat and so when I was in Delhi, the Indian cousins of my friend I was traveling around India with insisted I try it.
They bought the paan for me at a little stand on the side of the road and to me it looked like a leaf with spices and herbs on. They were so excited for me to try it as giving a guest paan is a way to welcome them in, plus a lot of people love it.
Not being accustomed to the taste however it took me a bit by surprise. My friend, being from Texas but with Indian heritage, knew exactly what I was in for though so stood there with her camera ready waiting for my reaction.
You’re supposed to chew paan and keep it in your mouth for a while but as soon as I started chewing it was like all the moisture that had ever existed in my mouth disappeared. I didn’t last long. Try with caution.
15. Bhalla Papdi Chaat in Delhi
By Nitin from Dreams Taking Wings
Delhi is a paradise for street food lovers and Bhalla Papdi Chaat is one of the most loved street snacks of Delhi. You will see all types of establishments selling Bhalla Papdi Chaat, from big restaurant chains like Bikanervala and Haldiram to small street vendors.
Unlike any other North Indian snacks, Bhalla Papdi Chaat is served cold. Fried moong dal (split green gram) and urad dal (split black gram) fritters called Bhallas are first broken a little from the middle. Then they are smothered with the yogurt mixed with sugar and black salt. This is followed by mixing of crispy fried dough wafers called Papdis. Finally, tamarind chutney is added and pink pomegranate seeds or sev (small deep-fried noodles of gram flour) may be used as a garnish. And voila you have sweet, spicy, and tangy Bhalla Papdi Chaat in your hands.
There is no magic ingredient to Bhalla Papdi Chaat but somehow street vendors for some reason make much better chaat than restaurants. If you are in Delhi and want to try Bhalla Papdi Chaat, make sure you try it in renowned old market areas of Delhi like Chandni Chowk, Lajpat Nagar, Kamla Nagar, and Karol Bagh.
16. Chole Bhature in Delhi
By Soujanya from The Spicy Journey
When it comes to popular street food in India, chole bhature is a must-try! I found a great dine-in plus take-away restaurant in Delhi, which also happened to be a favourite among the locals. They served a big plate of chole and bhature as well as plentiful pickled onions, green chilli and carrots in a tray for just INR 60 (less than a US dollar). What’s even more fascinating is that they even gave refills at this unbelievable price! Chole is a north Indian main dish which has a thick gravy whereas bhatura (plural = bhature) is an Indian bread which is made by rolling out dough and frying it in oil. This dish can be found quite commonly in Northern India, especially in Delhi, Agra and even in Rajasthan. The restaurant where I ate this chole bhature was called Sitaram Diwan Chand located in Paharganj, New Delhi. However, if you wish to experience the dish as a street food item, it can be quite commonly found in the lively lanes of Old Delhi. Just ask any local for directions to parathe wali gali. In some parts of India, chole bhature can be found as a breakfast food or snack item (a heavy snack I might add) in restaurants. Whatever the case may be, it’s a favourite food item across India and a savoury dish that must be tried!
17. Vada Pav in Colaba
By Ellie from Soul Travel Blog
It’s hard to walk far in Mumbai without finding a stall selling the delicious Maharashtrian specialty, Vada Pav. Made from potato sabzi (mashed potatoes, spices and chilli) fried in a batter (the Vada) and served in a fresh bread roll (Pav), the Vada Pav is the Indian answer to the veggie burger – but much more delicious! Even better, a Vada Pav will set you back only 15 Rupees. Food that’s accessible to everyone! On a related note, you might want to read about the slum tour of Dharavi in Mumbai.
Anyways, some Vada Pav’s can be quite spicy so if that’s not your thing, skip the chilli on the side. Vada Pav is served with chutney – either dry chutneys (which look like powder) or speciality chutneys: Typical chutneys include coconut chutney, green chilli chutney (thecha – best avoided if you don’t like spicy), red chutney (date chutney – delicious and sweet), or – our favourite – chutney made from chickpea flower (pictured below at Gajanan Vada Pav).
If you’re looking for Vada Pav in Colaba, we recommend Aram Vada Pav at CST Station, or if you happen to be north of Mumbai in Thane, do not miss the chance to pop into Gajanan Vada Pav – our favourite hangout and consistently ranked among the finest Vada Pav stalls in Mumbai.
18. Samosas anywhere in India
By Maria from India Up Close
Samosa are Indian street food heaven and a staple you will find almost anywhere in little shops and stalls across India. Flakey dough, shaped into the instantly recognizable pyramid form is stuffed with all kinds of goodies.
Traditional stuffings include aloo matar (pea & potato), chana dal (chickpea), gobi (cauliflower), and for the meat-eaters lamb or chicken samosas are popular. They are often served with a watery mint sauce that has a bit of a kick to it, while the samosas themselves are usually not too spicy and make it a great street food snack for people who don’t like to eat super spicy.
I have had Samosas all over India and especially love them on road trips. The best ones I have had was somewhere in small village on the way from Bandhavgarh to Kanha National Park and it was my driver’s go-to stop on this route. I invited my driver and 3 portions of Samosa (my driver was hungry), chai for two and coke for me came out to 70 INR.
19. Puttu in Kerala and Tamil Nadu
By Raihann from A Rai of Light
During my time travelling in India, I got to try many interesting and tasty dishes never seen before. Puttu was one such dish. Highly popular in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and as well as in parts of Sri Lanka, it consists of steamed cylinders of ground rice flour layered with freshly grated coconut. I found it served mostly during breakfast, but I was told that puttu can be eaten at anytime throughout the day, both in its sweet and savory variety. There are a couple of ways to eat puttu and it is usually served alongside gravies, such as kadala, fish, or mutton, while the sweet version comes with banana, palm sugar, or plantain. No matter the variety, a big plus for me is that it is a healthy food. When trying it for the first time, you need to keep in mind that the perfect consistency is slightly moist. It is not meant to be served dry nor as a sticky dough. The simplicity and taste of puttu makes this wholesome dish the best way to start the day and a sure way to put a smile on your face.
20. Kattan chaya (black tea) and Parippuvada in Kerala
By Neethu from Our Backpack Tales
Kattan chaya and Parippuvada is one thing anyone visiting the South Indian state of Kerala must try. It is one of the most favorite evening combo for most Keralites. The parippuvada, which are basically crispy lentil fritters, are made with a yummy mixture of lentils, onions, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and deep fried in coconut oil. The black tea becomes the perfect companion to this tasty snack. The best places to try this would be at the local tea shops, but you can also get them at restaurants too.
We still cherish the memories of sipping hot glasses of kattan chaya and biting into the parippuvada while enjoying the chilly evening on our trip to Munnar. It’s a different feeling altogether! Any Malayali would definitely agree with this!
21. Dahibara Aloodum in Odisha
By Shalini from Eager 2 Travel
A visit to the city of temples, Odisha is incomplete without trying out the mouth-watering dish Dahibara Aloodum. Since all around the year, the weather is hot and humid Dahibara Aloodum is indeed the soul food of Odisha. What is more important that you can probably have all three meals a day as Dahibara Aloodum in just 1 dollar. Dahi (yoghurt) and bara(lentil dumplings ) are served with thick potato curry is a unique combination if we check the Dahibara served in the rest of India. The baras are served soaked in a thin runny chaas (buttermilk) kind of dahi, tempered with spices. 4-6 pieces are put in a dona and topped with aloo dum.
The most popular dahi bara stall is Raghu’s Stall- a 45 years old shop in bidanasi. The baras are served with aloo dum, sprinkled with red chillies and salt. Another famous shop is Trinath Dai Bara shop. The baras here were topped with thick and super spicy aloo dum, ghugni, sew, onion, sweet and spicy chutney. It was delectable, with the pinch of spice. It can be a bit spicy but you can always tell the vendor to make it less spicy for you. At the end don’t forget to try the yummy dahi pani.
22. Mysore Masala Dosa in South India
By Ellis from Backpack Adventures
Dosas are a popular streetfood in south India. The simple recipe of rice pancakes with chutney became so popular that every region and city developed its own version. Some like them thin and crispy, others like them fluffy. Then there is the huge variety in fillings.
The Mysore Masala dosa is quite famous and is characterized by a red garlic chutney and a delicious potato filling with flavourful spices. The pancake is made with loads of butter so it turns out both thick and crispy. For many, the Mysore masala dosa is a big favourite.
Everywhere you go in southern India you will find the Mysore masala dosa on the menu, but of course Mysore itself is the best place to try them. Hotel Mylari serves its traditional recipe for more than 80 years, and eating here is one of the top things to do in Mysore.
The recipe includes some secret ingredients, but it is the right combination of crispy on the outside while soft and fluffy on the inside. Served with a bit of butter and coconut chutney it is the best breakfast or lunch you can have in Mysore.
23. Kulfi everywhere in India
By Anwesha from GoingPlaceswithAnwesha
In India, Kulfis are a much sought-after street dessert, especially during the sultry summer days. I still remember my childhood days of buying kulfis from a kulfi wallah (vendor) carrying a huge earthen pot on his head, selling from door to door in my hometown of Kolkata. Kolkata is very hot and humid during the months of April-May. And it was a perfect excuse to buy kulfis after lunchtime. He would separate the kulfis from the conical moulds and serve them.
On the other hand, Bombay Kulfis are round in shape and are sliced up before serving. There are several ways to make Kulfis but traditionally they are made by thickening of milk into Rabdi. Once the Kulfi is done, dry fruits like pistachios and almonds are added to increase its flavour ten folds. Nowadays, you can get flavoured kulfis as well like chocolate, rose, oreo, tender coconut, guava chilli, paan among others.
So, on your next trip to India, don’t forget to try some Kulfis and thank me later.
24. Jhalmuri in West Bengal
By Trijit from BudgetTravelBuff
Jhalmuri is one of the most popular and cheap street food in West Bengal. In Bengali ‘Jhal’ means spicy and ‘muri’ means puffed rice made by heating rice in a sand oven. Jhalmuri is a very common evening snack and it is very light and tasty food.
The recipe of Jhalmuri is very simple and anyone can make it. You just need to be careful to balance the flavors correctly while tossing all the ingredients. Apart from puffed rice, you need peanuts, finely chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumber, boiled potatoes, sev, mustard oil, tamarind powder, coriander, green chilies and chaat masala. Chop all the vegetables and then mix in a bowl with proper balancing of all ingredients. In addition, a dash of lemon makes it tangier and topping with coconut slices and chanachur gives it an ultimate spicy and delicious taste.
You can find this crunchy street food even outside of Bengal. Though it is a traditional food of West Bengal, but it is now also popular in other states of India also for its taste and easy recipe. The best part of Jhalmuri is its cheap price. Generally, it costs around INR 10-20 in maximum street food stall of Kolkata which is similar to a cup of tea. If you are a foodie and have a plan to visit North-East India, then it’s a must-try snack.
25. Bhelpuri in Western India
By Sarah from The Winged Fork
Quite similar in nature to the Jhalmuri above that’s popular in West Bengal, is the Bhelpuri in Western India. Street vendors mix puffed rice with chopped onions, tomatoes, boiled potatoes, roasted peanuts, coriander leaves, and some sev. These are then filled in a cone made of old newspaper or magazine pages and tossed together with lime juice and a sweet tamarind sauce or a spicy green chutney depending on what you ask for. A few crispy puris are broken into pieces and thrown into the mix, and a few more added on top for to use as spoons. You can find bhel puri sold on street corners or in restaurants; and prices start at INR 10 on the streets and go all the way up to INR 150 for bhel puri in restaurants.
26. Dabeli in Western India and other popular cities
A snack that means “pressed” in English has definitely got something different about it! The Dabeli or Kutchi Dabeli as it’s sometimes called is a Gujarati word that translates to “pressed” in English. It was invented by a Gujarati man named Kesha Malam or Keshavji Gabha Chudasama from Gujarat circa the 1960’s. When he started out, Kesha Malam used to sell dabelis at 1 anna or 6 paise, and now his descendants still sell dabeli in Mandvi, in Kutch Gujarat.
The special dabeli masala are the main ingredients of the dish. This masala is mixed with boiled and mashed potatoes and kept ready. When you order your dabeli, the vendor first butters an Indian bread called pav and heats it upside down on a tawa which is a large flat cast iron pan. He then adds the mashed potato mix along with roasted peanuts, chutney, pomegranate seeds, and sev to the pav and serves it to you either in a steel plate that’s returnable or straight up in your hand. Dabelis are so yummy, you can’t stop at just one. Don’t forget to try this delicious snack that’s sold by stall vendors in the evenings at street corners in Western India and many other major cities in other parts of India. We live in Mumbai now and love the street food in Asia!
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 [email protected] with a pic and a description and I just might add it. Toodles!
PS. You might be interested in reading this post about the best street food to try in Europe!