Popularity of Indian Street food, which began in the mid-1800s for the convenience of factory workers returning from night shift, is unquestionable. People belonging to the various cross-sections of societies in India, whether accustomed to home cooking of five stare hotel cuisines, would have most definitely tasted street food. Not only are these food items reasonably priced but its rich and varied flavours, which differ from region to region and state to state, is what attract customers in large numbers to these street stalls. Visually appealing, never failing to leave an ever-lasting impression on the olfactory and gustatory senses and well-presented food items maintaining the standards of hygiene are a tempting accompaniment to any brew. Known by different names such as kaiyenthi bhavan, nukkadwaala food, dhaba etc., the culture that commenced in 1800’s thrives even today both as an entrepreneurial business and as the much sought after eats by the locals.
If you were to ask me, “Has the traditional food lost its popularity?” then my response would be ‘No’. It continues to be preserved in millions and millions of homes where the traditional recipes are handed down orally by grandmothers, mothers etc from generation to generation. The publishing industry has played its significant role in making the traditional recipes popular by distributing cookbooks to national and international stores and online book retailers. Street food and traditional food are not poles apart. Vendors cook traditional food but infuse it with new, delicious, experimental flavours which accounts for its distinctiveness, demand and saleability.
Brought up by Malayalee parents and accustomed to Kerala style cooking in which coconut milk and coconut oil is liberally used, this Christmas, deciding to continue the saga of fish curries, I prepared the traditional or basic style fish curry and ate it with rice and fried fish pieces as it is customary. If you are wondering about the Australian touch, it is in the choice of the fish, the Australian Barramandi. Perfect for fish curry and for fry!
Besides this determined to treat myself to the great flavours of street food, I cooked a popular street food of Karnataka called Bezule Mangalorean chicken with the guidance of Vahrehvah chef Sanjay Thumma (accessed his YouTube videos). This spicy chicken has dominant flavours of blended coriander, lime and chilly. Since Indochinese recipes continue to be a significant part of the Indian cuisine and these items with its sweet, sour and spicy flavours continue to be sold in popular street food stalls but also in classy restaurants, I braised Chicken Manchurian (my style) for Xmas lunch. Today being Boxing Day (public holiday), I cannot wait dig into the leftovers.
Hope you had a wonderful Xmas!