Nutritionally speaking, I know we always talk about how ghar ka khaana is like the healthiest food ever. It’s freshly prepared and is filled with dollops of maa ka pyaar 😊
But, our taste buds get bored when we are eating the same old roti-sabzi, dal-chawal or paratha. Are we right?
Bon happetee, always encourages you to pamper the foodie in you and with that line of thought, presents a street food guide, which will make you and your taste buds super-duper happy!
As a nutritionist, I am skeptical about eating food at chain fast-food joints and would prefer the local chaat vendor or pav bhaji wala instead simply because the local vendors prepare food right in front of your eyes. At most of the fast food joints, the patties/fillings/fries are pre-cooked in factories and sent to the outlets for final cooking or heating which makes them filled with preservatives.
On the other hand, since street food is freshly prepared, they have zero preservatives and hence you can savor these dishes without ingesting those harmful chemicals. In fact, even the pav of the vada pav guy is far better than processed breads served at commercial food joints.
A key point to bear in mind is that, always opt for street vendors/ stalls where they serve fresh, steaming hot food which retains the lip-smacking flavor as well as keeps the risk of bacterial infections away.
Craving something fried? Just ensure that you are eating from the piping hot, fresh batch. Don’t forget to ask the vendor if they are cooking in fresh and hot oil, else the food tends to absorb more oil which will make you feel heavy and bloated.
Most street foods are served along with coriander/mint chutney and spices which aid in secretion of digestive juices for proper digestion as well as is beneficial for constipation, piles, abdominal cramps and balancing blood sugar levels.
Now that we have the ground rules in place, here comes your coveted street food guide that packs taste bhi and health bhi:
- Pani puri/ puchka/ gol gappe – The pudina, jeera and kala namak pani is an excellent source of sodium and potassium, which maintains the electrolyte balance and works as a great digestive tonic. The mithi chutney made of tamarind, jaggery and dates meets your iron needs. Any pani puri wala, even your gali or nukkad ka vendor, will do, as long as the water is from safe sources and you trust him.
- Pav bhaji – The combination of veggies, pav and butter is a wholesome meal that is packed with the goodness of fibre and fat that keeps the tummy full and prevents sugar spikes. A Mumbai speciality, Amar Juice Centre at Vile Parle and Sardar Pav Bhaji at Tardeo offer the most lip-smacking pav bhaji.
- Idli / dosa with coconut chutney – These easy to digest, fermented foods brim with the beneficial bacteria which keep your immunity and digestive system strong. Coconut chutney not only tastes yum but packs in Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s) that boost your metabolism, provide fuel to the brain and slow down the aging process. Sri Krishna Café at Kormangala and India Coffee House in Bangalore offer delicious dosas whereas Murugan Idli Shop, Mr. and Mrs. Idly and Idly Xpress in Chennai are a must-visit for their idlis.
- Chilla chaat – The goodness of moong dal takes care of your protein requirements whereas the khajur-imli and spicy chutney have a laxative effect offering perhaps the most delicious cure for constipation 😉. Vardhan and Satyanarayan AC Market in Kolkata and Prakash Chaat Corner at Safara Bazar in Indore are well-known for their chillas.
- Vada pav – Another Mumbai speciality, vada pav is a complete meal with carbs, proteins and fat that make tummy and taste buds happy happy. The garlic chutney offered along with vada pav has cholesterol-lowering properties. Ashok Vada pav near Kirti College, Gajanan Vada Pav at Thane and Shivaji Vada Pav at Vile Parle are the must-try joints.
- Kathi roll – The paneer or chicken kathi roll are the one of the most delicious street foods which you can eat on-the-go as well if you’re pressed for time. A perfect amino-acid profile, it packs in a super-awesome protein punch with the goodness of energy-giving carbs. Ayub’s and Bademiya at Mumbai; The Kathi’s and Nizam’s Kathi Kabab at Delhi offer lip-smacking kathi rolls.
- Jhal muri – The Bengali version of bhel, jhal muri brims with the tastiness of healthy fats courtesy peanuts, coconut and mustard oil which not only keep your heart healthy but ensure slow, steady release of energy-providing glucose. The jhal muri vendor, opposite Jawaharlal Nehru Road and at Triangular Park, South Kolkata are famous for their jhal-muri.
- Chura matar – This street food from Banaras works as an excellent breakfast or evening snack. It is packed with the iron and carb-rich poha and protein-rich green peas which make it a nutritionally balanced meal.
- Dabeli – A Kutch speciality, dabeli is oozing with the yumminess of sweet and spicy potato mixture, buttered pav, pomegranate and masala peanuts which packs in both nutrition and taste in a snack. Khau Galli at Ghatkopar and Kapil’s Dabeli Corner at Andheri East in Mumbai and Karnawati Dabeli Centre at Mani Nagar in Ahmedabad boast of the most delicious dabelis.
- Dal pakwaan– The most popular Sindhi breakfast, dal pakwaan is a wholesome meal of protein-rich dal, carb-rich whole-wheat and chutney topped with onion which satisfy the taste buds and keep your hunger pangs away. The dal pakwans at Kailash Parbat, Colaba and Satu’s, Chembur in Mumbai are a must-have.
- Missal pav – Quintessentially from Pune, this spicy dish is a mix of curried lentils, topped with potato bhaaji, chivada, chopped onions and tomato served with pav; it packs in all the five-pillars of nutrition in one meal. Mamledar Misal at Thane and Jai Hind at Lower Parel, Mumbai are the most-sought after joints for missal pav.
- Grilled sandwich – The combination of vegetable and bread doesn’t get better than in a grilled sandwich. The vegetables and dollops of butter prevent the sugar spikes caused by the high GI bread which gives you energy that lasts the day long. Add some cheese and you’ve got a balanced meal at hand. Right Place at Breach Candy, Sandwizza at Lokhandwala and Jay Sandwich outside National College in Mumbai offer the yummiest sandwiches .
- Litti chokha – Hailing from Bihar, litthi chokha offers a wholesome meal which is brimming with a carb-protein packed combo of whole wheat and sattu and dollops of ghee, and which helps in mobilizing fat from stubborn fat areas and keeps your skin free from wrinkles and aging.
- Khichiya – Roasted khichiya (rice papad), veggies, chutneys and crisp sev, is a popular snack which provides instant energy-giving carbs and fibre. It’s a must-try at Khau galli, Mumbai.
Street food, let’s bring it on. What say?
Vishruta is a nutritionist by profession and a writer by heart. Content writing and menu planning have become her passions over the past few years. Love food, love life — is her mantra.