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On the Streets
by Savia Rajagopal
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 10:59 AM
There’s something wonderfully comforting about street food. You can tickle your taste buds with Western fare like hot dogs or cotton candy, or you could go the desi route with traditional desi street food like chaat, vada pav or kababs. The simplicity of eating food, in a relaxed environment walking down the street, does not take away from the delicious flavours and subtle spices that create an aroma and taste like nothing else.

If anything, the experience itself enhances the flavor of the food as the street imparts its own distinctive stamp.

Recently, Masala Mehndi Masti’s 2008 edition was a fun-filled event spread over three days. And apart from the entertainment, there was great food to be had. Some of the GTA’s best restaurants and eateries made it out to celebrate the South Asian event this summer. The Food Corner has come of the best South Asian foods you could find. From street food like chaat to rich flavours from tikkas and kababs, not forgetting delicious desserts like kulfi and falooda – there was plenty of food to go around. For those with a preference for a Western palette, there were hot dogs, corn on the cob, and other goodies. All in all, there were long lines, and great food – almost always in that order!

So what makes some great street food at festivals? We asked some people in the GTA to share their thoughts on street food...

Rakhee Moye, Mississauga

What’s your favourite food from the streets? Chicken Tikka

What’s on your wish-list for an ideal street food fest? Dabeli - I dont think I saw it at MMM. It is street food from Bombay but I crave for it. Then there’s Paan - made fresh and right in front of our eyes instead of the ones premade with toothpicks! And of course, paan must be available in all its choices - maggai, kalkatta sada, kalkatta meetha, banarasi, etc. Now only if the thela could be like the ones outside fancy restaurants in India with a brass umbrella and a fancy brass plate, where the guy makes the paan dressed up nicely in an Indian outfit instead of jeans that will add the icing on the cake!

Pani Puri - Right on a thela just like you see them in India. I know due to hygiene concerns they don’t let someone dip the puris in khatta or meetha pani but I really wish they did. Maybe gloves will help. There is a place in Bandra, Bombay which does that and that would be pretty ok I would think.

Authentic Street food is: dirt cheap, filling and will definitely need you to use your hands!

Anwesha Rakshit, Markham

What’s your favourite food from the streets? My favourite food would be the Vada Pav. It was delicious. I would like that particular street food to be available everywhere.

What’s on your wish-list for an ideal street food fest? At food fests, I believe… Vada Pav, kababs and Bhutta works best. All on the healthier side as compared to samosas and pakoras.

Authentic street food is: food that you can walk with, and eat at the same time which also captures the aromas and tastes of the place it represents. For example, ‘mumfalli’, young coconut juice, pani puri etc.

Vedant Rajput, Mississauga

What’s your favourite food from the streets? I would like to see someone making rumali roti's. Flipping them in the air, turning them around etc.

What’s on your wish-list for an ideal street food fest? Kathi rolls/kababs, Indian-Chinese (hakka noodles etc) and Indian sandwiches with green chutney, cucumbers- toasted of course!

Authentic street food is: all about taste. Taste that we all miss from the street food back home. Something not available in restaurants.

Disha Vyas, Toronto

What’s your favourite food from the streets? Vada Pav with indian chai

What’s on your wish-list for an ideal street food fest? Of course Vada pav, poha and upma - coz they are fast to cook, fast to eat, yummy and good for health (excluding Vada pav)

Authentic street food is: Something that instantly reminds me of my hometown - like daal baati, makki ki roti with sarson ka saag

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