Festival celebrates street food from 25 Indian states

foodNEW DELHI: Traditional delicacies ranging from Mysore dosa to litti chokha as well as specialties like ‘garlic kheer’ and ‘tash ke kabab’, typically found only in street corners across the country comprised a festival that celebrated street food.

The National Street Food Festival organized by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), which was inaugurated at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium recently as a grand affair by celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, saw over 800 street vendors from 25 different states cooking over 500 recipes.

Tahira a street vendor from Dharwad, Karnataka, who sold ‘Aknee pulav’ and ‘dalacha’ (a type of dal), ‘jigri’ (a vegetable cooked with brinjal, fenugreek and potatoes) says, “I learnt to make these dishes from my mother.

At the festival I made this dish for around 50 people each day and students are my most loyal customers.”
Apart from the quintessential dosa, idli, upma and sambar, there are hawkers who are showcasing specialty dishes from the south Indian states.

The array of lip smacking non-vegetarian items from South, were giving competition to the ‘Gilaouti kebabs’, ‘biryani, parantha’ and ‘Nahari kulchas’ from Lucknow.

A quite modern dish ‘Chicken 65’ a hybrid between Indian and Chinese styles and sold by sold by Akbar from Dharwad was seen as one of the most sought after dishes at the event.

In yet another cross-breeding of cultures and geographical regions, Dileep, a hawker from Chandigrah offered ‘Honey Special Gobhi’ as his stall’s specialty.

The dish, a twisted version of Manchurian, makes use of cauliflower in making the fried Manchurian balls. The street vendor, says, “I normally used to cook in weddings and learnt this dish from seeing other cooks.”

An original dish, ‘tash ke kabab’, Ganesh Prasad from Motihari, Bihar seemed to get a lot of takers.

‘Tash’ in the language spoken in Motihari, means a pan or ‘tava’ where the dish is cooked.

Prasad says, “The fact that my dish is becoming so famous among the people of Delhi is giving me immense happiness.” The hawker says he had been dishing out the preparations for the past 30 years.

Specialities such as ‘Lal-peda’ and ‘Makdal’ from Varanasi, ‘Mishti-Doi’ and ‘Rasogulla’ from Kolkata and ‘Mysore Pak’ from Mysore took care of the sweet-toothed.

A stall that seemed to attract customers was the ‘lahsun ki kheer’, a kind of dessert made by boiling and grinding garlic, sold by a street vendors from Lucknow.

According to Ravi one of the visitors, “It is really tasty and I can’t even detect the smell of garlic that this dish is made of.”

Another culinary wonder, the roller fruit ice-cream at Subhash Chand’s stall attracted a lot of foodies. Chand says he has been preparing ice cream fashioned on a rolling cylinder for long at his Delhi-based shop in Kishan Nagar.

When asked, most street vendors say they picked up their culinary skills from their homes.

So lesser known dishes such as ‘khoye ki jalebi’ from Madhya Pradesh and ‘Paan Pitha’ from Assam got featured in the eclectic mix of culinary showcase

The former is a variant of jalebi, made from khoya or mawa, and resembles a gulab jamun in taste and texture,” says hawker Raj Kamal Jain.

Meanwhile, the ‘Paan Pitha’, a thin chapatti made form rice flour and served with coriander chutney has another version, one that is made in a kettle, namely the ‘Ketli-Peetha’. These dishes, says foodies, are sometime also eaten with jaggery or gur.

The festival traces its origin to the year 2010, when at the annual general meeting of NASVI, a proposition to highlight issues of street food vendors, was put forward.

The organization asked the vendors who attended the AGM to make the food and organized an event at the Constitutional Club.

“We noticed that people enjoyed the food, but just hesitated to eat the food on streets. Another thing that we noticed was that this experiment could be developed into a business model to empower the street vendors not associated with a hotel or caterers,” says Arbind Singh, National Coordinator, NASVI.

Since then street food festival has been organized by NASVI since the last six years in cities like Delhi and Patna.

Singh says vendors were made to undergo a five-day ‘Skill Development Program’ in hotel management institutes, across the country, in collaboration with the Tourism Ministry to professionalize the participating vendors.

“Coming to this festival, these vendors realize that there is a big market for their kind of food. For instance, Teerath Singh, a food vendor from Ludhiana, who used to come here till last year, actually got the confidence to open his own restaurant, while selling pizzas and burgers,” says Singh.

The model has been implemented in Gwalior and abroad as well, according to Singh. The three day festival was themed on ‘Food that empowers’-PTI

0 - 0

Thank You For Your Vote!

Sorry You have Already Voted!