My Camera And My Chai: The Joys of Street Food

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My Camera And My Chai

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I tried… I really tried to align these two images onto one line, but my skills came up short.

I did speak of chaat last week, and this is a photograph of the chaat that I ate. Chaat is just one form of street food in India, and there are several kinds of chaat.

The photograph is bad, and out of focus, and I can assure you that it tastes better than it looks. This one (and, I really have no idea of how to translate these words into English) contains papri, bhalla, dahi (yogurt), spices, etc. The sauce – or chutney – is a kind of tamarindy one, and there is a bit of something else, which I cannot even spell in English. The nasal sound of the ‘o’ in the word simply cannot be written in English unless you are a linguist, and can use those squiggly little signs that indicate how you are to pronounce them.

Anyhow, Indian street food is tasty.

If I may be allowed to make a provocative statement (and I am sure Indians from other parts of India will raise their hands in feeble protest), the best street food is served up in North India. In fact, we North Indians are the kings of Indian street food.

It is something that can make you salivate like a panting puppy. There is street food for all seasons, all served up with a dish of honest sweat, grime, diesel and dust. The last four ingredients are essential for making really good street food. Some restaurants, including five star places, have made the occasional attempt to serve street food in a restaurant, in air-conditioned comfort. But then, you lose the essence of the stuff.

Would you eat your food if all the ingredients were scrubbed with Dettol?

No?

Think about it.

Still, no? Well then, you get what I mean.

What you need to bring to the party, is a strong stomach. The food is yum, but if you don’t have a strong stomach, then you will soon feel a noxious, fiery gas emerging from your nether regions, followed by several trips to the White Throne.

You do know what I mean.

At that point, you will be tempted to sing the famous ditty, composed in doggerel. It goes like this:

“Indian street food, it is so yum                                                                                                   It creates a warmth in my little tum                                                                                      But oh, but oh, what have we here?                                                                                      The food, I know, is yum, yum, yum                                                                                                    But what is happening to my bum,bum, bum?”

You know this song? No?

Well, you have heard of The Delhi Belly? The song was composed in honour of the world famous Delhi Belly….

Sing it!

23 Comments

  1. Oh, yummy! I love street food. One good thing about the US, in the cities at least, you can find diverse food from every country. Chai is one of my favorite things, as are tamarinds. They’re both somewhat rare in this neck of the woods, but chai has become more readily available recently. I had tamarinds in Hawaii and fell in love with the flavor, almost sweet and sour.

    1. Yes, tamarind is something that is not that often used in the North, except for chutneys. Chai is becoming popular. Did you know that the Turks, and the Chinese pronounce tea in almost the same way? Except, that their tea is different

  2. You might find this is crazy but I have never had Indian food ever, well except that I do use curry 🙂 so imagine me reading this post, I have no clue what you talking about but I know what is bum, bum 🙂 anyhow enjoy 🙂

      1. Shocking isn’t it 🙂 The part of the world at the moment is Canada so I could have since we have some really lovely restaurants but me and my husband have trouble with spices ( you know the bum, bum thing 🙂 ), but we both love curry which I use in my cookings 🙂
        Have a great week Rajiv!

      2. Well, the thing is, that Indian food is not all spicy. It can be spicy, if that is what you want. else, it can be bland. Non-spicy bland, I mean. My wife and son don’t like spicy food, for instance. I got used to it during the years I was in consumer sales. Before that, I would have tears rolling down my cheeks. My daughter likes spicy food.
        There are a few regions where, I can tell you, your body can feel on fire. These regions, strangely, are the hottest regions in India – and they eat the most spicy food

  3. I don’t remember seeing much street food in Chennai so maybe the rest of India is no longer even competing. 🙂 It is possible that my hosts were worried that I might catch the Delhi belly and steered me away from it. On my first trip, it took a few days just to convince them that I liked spicy and that I wanted to eat something else other than hotel food or bland Indo-Chinese.

  4. Where I live in the Rocky Mountains I have little chance of getting street food except from venders at carnivals, not at all the same thing. Can you post a recipe for Chaat. I’ll see if I can get ingredients and try it. I hope some day to go to India.

      1. Well, yes and no… In the sense, he will ask you if you want a sweet-sour sauce, or spicy one etc. But, the recipes are all done.

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