Love on the streets of India – Indian Street Food
January for us, at the Times Kitchen Tales, has been about figuring out the path to a fitter self. And we are looking at street food this time around.
An oxymoron? I do not blame you for saying that. There are certain characteristics of street food that are universal. It has to be cheap, must be quick to prepare, has to be pleasing on the eye and, of course, quell hunger and food pangs. This often leads to not-very-healthy cooking methods – deep frying, excessive use of refined flour, salt and sugar etc. Then there is that question of hygiene, and the quality of ingredients.
We do love our street food though. And life would be beautiful if we figured out how to make it work for us. As in most cases, our mothers seemed to have cracked the case.
Take for example the egg rolls of Kolkata. It has a protein element no doubt. However, the paratha is made with refined flour. My mother’s hack was to make egg rolls at home using lighter and less fatty oils and a whole-wheat flour-based chapati. I later learnt that many Bengali mothers resorted to this method. I make these in my kitchen when there are leftover rotis at home.
Pav bhaaji, a street-side favourite of Mumbai, is often made at home by Maharashtrian and Gujarati mothers who find it to be a nice way of making their kids have a wide array of vegetables.
The jhal muri of Kolkata, with its mix of vegetables such as cucumber, tomato, boiled gram, lime juice and boiled potato, along with muri (puffed rice) and mustard oil, can be easily made more ‘fit’ at home by upping the proportion of vegetables and legumes and cutting down on the potatoes; and by using just enough of the deep fried chanachur to add texture without overwhelming the dish with transfats.
Talking of jhal muri, it is said that the much loved chaat in Delhi was invented in the kitchens of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Worried about the effects of drinking hard water from Yamuna, he asked his hakims to come out with a solution. Apparently, deep fried and spicy food was seen as the remedy.
Relooking at the flours used to making the papdis of chaat and using more glycaemic index friendly ones such as millets, exploring the use of fresh and good quality spices, using fresh ginger, dates and tamarind in the form of saunth and the use of dahi, which has many therapeutic properties, could be one of making chaats more new- age friendly at home.
What are the other ways in which we can make popular street food items more conducive to the dietary needs of today?
Please go to www.timeskitchentales.com and share your ways of making popular street food dishes at home, in a manner which makes them attractive and yet fills us with the good stuff. We are looking to you for ideas.
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