Indian street food is widely loved worldwide and is often featured on popular cooking shows.
Many people even create their versions of popular dishes. These foods are typically served hot and devoured.
Crafted with love and care, utilizing age-old cooking techniques, and melding, searing, and fusing the freshest, most flavorsome native ingredients for some timeless dishes, this is Indian cooking as you’ve never experienced before.
Popular Indian street food is a common thread that connects every Indian, despite the vast differences in regions, languages, and cultural heritages from the foothills of the Himalayas to the chowks of New Delhi to the backwaters of Kerala.
Recommendations When Trying Indian Street Food Dishes
Eating street food in any country you visit is an unforgettable experience for your taste buds and a deep dive into the culture.
Yet you should follow some basic guidelines to ensure your safety.
- Buy from street vendors with high foot traffic – Street vendors with a steady stream of customers are likely to serve fresher food, and their staff is more likely to follow health codes.
- Avoid beverages sold in open containers – It’s not always easy to tell what’s in the container, which can sometimes be contaminated.
- Keep your hands clean – Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating anything you buy from a street vendor.
- Consume food in moderate amounts. Don’t overindulge in street food.
- Be wise about the dishes – Check if the ingredients used to prepare the dish are safe and of good quality, and make sure the food is cooked thoroughly.
- Avoid raw fruits and vegetables – Avoid eating uncooked produce unless you can peel them yourself.
Immerse yourself in local Indian culture and everyday life by trying a unique side of Indian cuisine as the locals do.
Indian street food is an extraordinary experience.
Regional Indian Street Foods
There are different ethnic groups in India, and each has its unique cuisine. Here is one of the typical divisions of regional Indian street food.
North India, including Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttarakhand, is known for its cuisine featuring dairy and a variety of bread. The food commonly includes dal, dry vegetables, tandoori roti, and naans. However, in Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir, non-vegetarian food is most widely consumed.
Western India comprises the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Goa.
Gujarat and Rajasthan staple foods include corn, lentils, gram flour, and nuts. Maharashtra cuisine is based on fish, rice, coconut, and peanuts, while the staple foods in Goa cuisine are fish, pork, and rice.
South Indian cuisine includes the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala.
Although there are differences in each state’s cuisine, it is generally characterized by spicy curries with rice as a staple.
The food also heavily features seafood, spices, and coconut.
North Eastern India
You will find a blend of Chinese and North Indian cuisines in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh.
The staple foods include rice, fish, pork meat, bamboo, and leafy vegetables.
The Eastern region of India includes states such as West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Sikkim, and Orissa.
This region is known for its delectable sweets, seafood, and fish dishes. Flavorful spices characterize this Indian food.
The staple foods include rice, fish, lentils, and mixed vegetables.
Street Food Dishes You Should Try
We could write several volumes on popular Indian street food.
Yet here are a few we’d recommend to start with:
Dahi Sev Puri
Dahi Puri is a famous Indian street food dish consisting of small, crispy, hollow puris or golgappas filled with boiled potatoes, chutneys, masalas, fine sev, and yogurt.
This tasty snack is also considered one of the oldest in the world.
The pastry contains spiced potatoes, onions, peas, and lentils.
Depending on the region, it can be found in various shapes, such as triangles, half-moons, and cones.
Chole Bhatura is a popular North Indian breakfast dish especially enjoyed in Punjab and nearby regions.
The dish consists of a spiced, tangy chickpea curry (Chole) and a soft, fluffy, fried leavened bread (Bhatura). It is a satisfying and delicious meal.
Egg Bhurji Pav
Egg Bhurji is a variation of scrambled eggs spiced with Indian flavors. It is commonly known as Anda Bhurji in India and is enjoyed throughout the country.
The idea is to prepare a mixture of spicy onion, tomato-based gravy, and masala, then add eggs and scramble everything together.
It’s a simple process, although it may vary in how it’s done.
The Bombay Sandwich, which originated in the streets of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), is popular street food and remains a beloved staple in the city.
The sandwich preparation involves spreading mint-coriander chutney and butter on white bread slices and adding onions, cucumber, and tomato slices.
The final step is toasting the sandwich, resulting in a crispy texture and a delectable combination of spicy-tangy chutney and fresh vegetables.
A beloved dish of Andhra Pradesh is Ragi Mudde, prepared by mixing Ragi flour and water and heating the mixture on a burner.
The mixture thickens into a paste as the water evaporates and is stirred regularly with a stick to ensure consistency. This dish also includes crispy balls made of Ragi or finger millet served in a tasty tomato chutney.
Ragi has been a budget-friendly alternative to grain in this region for a long time, and the dish has also become a popular street food in Karnataka.
Ragda patties are a popular street food in Mumbai that consists of crisp potato patties topped with gravy made from white peas.
Ragda is made with boiled peas mixed with squeezed bread, paste, mango powder, cilantro leaves, sugar, and salt.
The crispy potato patties are then roasted on a grill to brown on both sides with little hot oil.
Then you can spread mint chutney and tamarind-date chutney on top and sprinkle with chopped cilantro leaves.
Look for a street food stall that sells chicken without bones cooked in a rich, creamy tomato gravy made with nuts and spices.
Desi Fresh Foods butter chicken simmer sauce is a way to prepare this delicious and popular street food in your home.
Sabudana is a dish popular in South Asia made from tiny tapioca pearls. It is a nutritious and light meal commonly consumed during fasting days.
Sabudana Vada can be made more delicious by adding spiced potato, peanut powder, and green chilies and roasting it in ghee.
Tea stalls can be found all across India, even in the smallest villages and urban cities. In addition to sweet and milky chai, these stalls sell a variety of snacks.
In addition to sweet tea, consider trying masala chai which is typically sold at tea stalls.
This type of tea is flavored with aromatic spices such as dry ginger, cardamom, and cloves.
The Kathi Roll is a well-known street food in India that was first created in West Bengal.
It’s named after the stick used to cook the kebab meat on metal or wooden skewers in the traditional way.
Kathi rolls are made by rolling succulent pieces of grilled meat (kebabs) into a soft, flaky flatbread and topping it with spicy-tangy green chutney, sliced red onion slivers, and a dash of lime juice to create incredibly flavorful Indian snacks.
Some street food stalls offer Kati rolls with chicken tikka or butter chicken inside. You will fall in love with all the variations of this favorite Indian street food.
Although Bengali sweets are unique in their way, mishit doi has gained an iconic status.
Mishti Doi means “sweet yogurt” and is a widely loved dish made by adding jaggery, milk, and sugar to thick, reduced yogurt.
Mishti Doi is a dessert commonly served by street vendors in small earthen pots. It has a rich, caramel-like flavor and is typically flavored and garnished with almonds, pistachios, saffron, and cardamom.
Try the Indian version of sweet yogurt, and you will love it.
Moong Dal Bhaji
Moong Dal Bhaji is a delicious and crispy snack. It is made using yellow split moong lentils, spices, and herbs.
It has a perfect blend of sweetness and spiciness for your taste buds and is commonly enjoyed as an afternoon snack with chai in Gujarat and other parts of Western India.
The name itself accurately describes the ingredients in the dish.
A side note on Dal
In India, lentil dishes are a staple food people eat daily.
They usually have rice or different types of bread, such as chapati, naan, missi roti, and bati.
It’s common for families to have dal for lunch or dinner almost daily. Dal provides a lot of protein, especially for those who follow a vegetarian diet.
Aloo Tikki is a dish consisting of mashed potatoes seasoned with spices and herbs, then pan-fried until it is perfectly cooked.
Indian sweet and spicy chutneys, like mint chutney or coconut chutney, are typically served with Aloo Tikki.
Momos are dumplings that are steamed and filled with various ingredients.
Typically, they are filled with meat such as yak, cheese, and potatoes, but vegetarian variations are also available.
Although momos are usually steamed, they can be fried and enjoyed with chili sauce and sweet and spicy chutneys.
Thukpa Noodle Soup
Thukpa is a delicious street food that originated in Tibetan cuisine but has been adopted by Indians.
It consists of al dente noodles and is typically served with meat.
Lean chicken is also an excellent option for this dish.
Guliyappa or Paddu
A small wok is used to quickly prepare Indian street food made with rice, chana dal, and urad dal.
Batter, chopped vegetables, and salt are added to make it soft and spongy. It can be enjoyed with ketchup or coconut chutney.
The mix of Indian spices, including mustard seeds, coriander seeds, or green chili peppers, varies among different stalls and adds to the unique taste.
To make a perfectly round paddus, you need a paddu mold or appe pan.
In the 1850s, Pav bhaji was created to serve as a convenient lunchtime meal for textile mill workers in the city. Its popularity grew.
It eventually became one of the country’s most famous street food dishes.
“Pav” typically refers to a type of bread roll, while “Bhaji” usually describes a dish made with vegetables or vegetable-based ingredients.
Pav bhaji is a dish with a thick, spicy curry made from potatoes and vegetables, such as sliced onions, peas, bell peppers, and tomatoes.
The potatoes and vegetables are mashed and served with a soft buttery bread roll after being cooked with aromatic spices.
Bhel Puri is an Indian street food easily made by tossing pre-prepared ingredients in a large bowl.
The ingredients required for this dish are puffed rice, deep-fried noodles made from chickpea flour paste (also known as sev), chaat masala, diced onions, and tomatoes. Green chilies and cilantro are added as a garnish.
Panipuri, a beloved Indian street food, goes by different names depending on where you are in the country.
It consists of a crispy, deep-fried bread made of unleavened wheat flour filled with different ingredients like pani (flavored water), potatoes, tamarind and mint chutney, and spices, depending on the local tradition.
It is quite a challenge to eat panipuri without getting your hands dirty.
Panipuri is said to have originated in Uttar Pradesh, but it is now widely available throughout the Indian subcontinent.
Kothu or Kottu parotta refers to shredded parotta, a street food popular in parts of South India and Sri Lanka.
It was created to use leftover parottas, a flaky South Indian bread similar to the paratha.
The dish is prepared by roughly chopping leftover parotta and sautéing it with chopped onion, tomatoes, and spices.
Often, scrambled egg is added to make it a filling meal. Kothu parotta is usually served with raita, a yogurt dip, or a spicy curry.
Ram Ladoo is a popular Indian street food in Delhi made from moong dal pakodas cooked with flavorful spices.
First, soaked moong dal is ground into a fluffy paste.
Then, hing, red chili powder, chat masala, garam masala, salt, and grated ginger are added to the paste and mixed well.
The paste is then shaped into balls and fried until golden brown.
To enjoy, add grated radish, coriander chutney, and sweet tamarind chutney to these most popular street foods in India.
Pazham Pori is one of many famous street food dishes from Kerala made with ripe bananas.
Coat banana slices in an all-purpose flour batter to make a tasty vegan snack, and deep fry them. This banana fritters recipe is perfect for enjoying a cup of hot chai during tea time.
A popular Indian street food in Mumbai is Vada Pav, a vegetarian slider that consists of deep-fried mashed potato fritters (batata vada) served in a soft bread roll.
The recipe involves mashed potatoes with garlic, green chili peppers, mustard seeds, and spices.
Like many famous street foods, the seasoned mixture is shaped into a deep-fried ball.
The final dish is served in a bread roll with fried green chilies and one or more chutneys, such as garlic chutney.
A masala dosa is a dish made of a thin and crispy rice crepe that is filled with potato masala, bhaji, and Indian cottage cheese paneer.
It is usually served with chutney and sambar, a lentil-based vegetable curry to complete the meal.
What is the Indian street food to lick? Ice Gola
On a hot day, you can enjoy a refreshing ice gola. It’s a simple dessert made with ice and syrup that you can buy from a golawala.
These golas are sold from a small cart, and the vendor will fill a plastic cup with your preferred syrup.
You will then be handed a stick of ice, which can be dipped into the syrup or have the syrup poured over it for a sweet and sticky treat.
Ice Gola is an Indian ice cream served as a snow cone.
The popular flavors are orange, rose, lemon, and the original Kala Khatta, a sweet and tangy flavor.