Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Road-side Eats

I have a burning question: Do you love eating from road-side stalls as much as eating at your favourite restaurant? Would you pick one over the other? What's your favourite street cuisine?

For me, I find street food very delicious but not easy eating, often a messy affair. But that doesn't stop me. Coming to Hartford, street food is often a weekday thing - mainly around the parks and office spots. My husband's told me of very spicy thai food cart...perhaps today I'll go around and check it out.

Bombay is a street food haven. Never mind the seven-star hotels, the fine restaurants dotting the horizon, the bistros and coffee places, there is always brisk business for the scrambled egg (bhurji) guy, the Indian chaat fellow, the freshly-squeezed juices guy and the fried foods stalls - the batata vada (fried, spicy potato balls), the bhajiyas (chilli pepper, onion, potato fritters in chick pea flour batter), the deep fried sandwiches (yes, they stuff sandwiches with a spicy boiled potato paste, coat it in batter and fry it), you name it they coat it in a yellow, chick pea batter and fry it in oil.

Then you have the pav bhaji stall, which is a meal in itself. A venture started to feed mill workers at subsidized rates, this street food has been accepted as the favourite street and home food for the island city. A dish of boiled veggies (carrots, peas, potatoes, etc.) tossed in onion and spices, coated with a tangy tomato sauce and served with buttered, pan-fried slices of the Indian pav (like the slider buns). It looks amazing and if I had the materials I would make this dish right now, I always crave it when I can eat something spicy. A swift squeeze of a tiny lemon piece, garnish of coriander and chopped raw onion, this dish has spice, tanginess and the wholesome richness of butter in which the dish is made and topped with. There is very little you need after a treat like this.

Of course, there are meat stalls too...the entire Mohammad Ali Road in Mumbai eclipses most other places in terms of some meaty nosh. This is a very festive street during the Ramzan month and evenings are brightly coloured here, in terms of the marinating meats, the platters of livers and brains for the adventurous, and the fried and cooked sweets - the phirnis, the malpuas, the faloodas, everything is rich and good, very very good! We followed the No Reservations series and watched Anthony Bourdain devour plate upon plate of delicacies. He sweated and steamed as the dishes before him and totally enjoyed himself.

Coming back to the present, I enjoy looking at the food stalls in New York and Boston, two very different cities to enjoy a wide variety of street cuisines. Boston was my homey little corner, Quincy Market (which is filled with tourists most of the time) and the celebration of food inside the food market and outside where corn dogs and funnel cakes were made and served hot. In New York, I've mostly been inside restaurants. But the little dumpling stalls at Chinatown and the kebab stalls at Lexington are on my list. I also want to explore the little bakeries for the potato knish, something I couldnt do on my last visit there. Let's not forget my favourite street food here, the hot dog - I dont need mustard, ketchup or relish for this dish but slather them on nevertheless.

Do spill your favourite street food spots and let me know where you've eaten in NYC and Boston so I can try them too.


  1. confession: when i go road tripping, my standard of eating is way down. i like gas station hot dogs. i like stopping in at the cracker barrel on desolate highways. i also like truck stops.

    i'll stop now.

  2. I love hot dogs...cannot keep away from them in their cheery little carts. I havent done the cracker barrel yet. What do you recommend I eat there?

    1. breakfast... any item.. i typically go for egg specials, as pancakes & waffles probably have milk in them... i remember their fried catfish was good... so's their beef stew + cornbread.

  3. I prefere restaurants, but would love to go street food eating with you in India :-)

  4. I'm missing it too right now :) I'd love to know about your favourite restaurants, I often see lovely photos of them on your blog.