Whenever you travel to a new country, be sure to try as much of the local food as possible. The best way to do this is to sample the street food. Kevin Burke of CMC Forum talks about some of the basics of Indian street food:
“India’s got a great tradition of food stands. India is also a great place to try out vegetarianism. Cows are sacred, and pigs are unclean animals, so there’s no beef or pork anywhere. Furthermore many more people here are “veg,” so there are more options for vegetarians here than there are in the US. Because meat is so expensive relative to vegetables and rice, we cook meat once a week or less. The food here is so good that you really don’t notice the lack of meat in your diet.
In India they take “we don’t make it till you order it” seriously. Street vendors prepare the food right in front of you. When we cook at home, we purchase the ingredients from a vendor on the street about an hour before we cook, ensuring that it’s fresh.
Alu Paratha (8 rupees, about 16 cents) is a lunchtime favorite. You make it by mixing potato and some vegetables in with dough and serving with two sides, usually one spicy and one mild. You rip off a piece of the paratha, dip it in the spice and enjoy.
Above is dal bati, which is prepared right in front of you. The proprietor will bring out five or six balls of hardened dough, crush them with his fingers, and add onion and ghee (clarified butter). Tasty!
I cry every time I eat this egg curry, which might be because it’s so spicy, or because I love Kumar, the cook, so much that I want to bring him home with me to the US.
This is thali, a favorite dish in Rajasthan. There’s no ordering in a thali restaurant; you sit down and they start bringing you food. A server brings out roti (round flat bread) and/or rice and a number of spices, and you eat until you can eat no more. In nice restaurants the preparation and the number of different dishes can be pretty elaborate.
If you’re headed to Goa or Bangalore, you will find dosa to be quite popular. Dosa is a potato and vegetable mix wrapped in paper-thin rice dough.” (NYSF Note: We have previously written about the NY Dosa Cart and the Sami Dosa Cart in New York.)