Highway on my plate - Recipesupermart

Highway on my plate

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In my travels around the world, I have been fortunate enough to taste, experience, and smell food that crawls, walks, flies  or to the one which is delectably cooked either on the streets of New Delhi, to the creepy crawly market in Shanghai, China where a mere walk through the “insect world” would make you cringe in your sleep. So, diverse is the way that food is dished out in different parts of the world and the way I have experienced, leaves me in wonderment and assures me that no food tastes better until and unless you get down to brass tracks and walk the street or the highway to get the complete culinary experience.

Living and surviving in London can be quite a challenge, it’s a cake-walk if you are visiting the city on guided tour, where the sights and sounds of everything around, leave you with your mouth open in amazement, where your tour-guide “parks you’ in the finest of eateris,in a city that never ceases to amaze. On the flip-side of the coin, the story dramatically changes if you are living alone in the city and have to brave the cold weather, expensive restaurants or in plain terms just eat to survive, since your work takes most of the time off your schedule. Living near Hyde Park the priciest part of London gives you many options since excellent fine dining options co-exist there. But on a cold, rainy day my favourite haunt next to my place used to be, Stick & Bowl on 31 Kensington High St. The seating arrangement hasn’t changed over the years which is, informal with bottles of exotic sauces laid neatly on each table, the food is hot, quick, quite cheap and I like the way the food order is brought up on a “food lift” from the basement kitchen, when in London do go there, it’s a no nonsense place where everyone eats. While changing buses around Shepard’s Bush, you have time to browse around the small take-away eateries and my favourite was from a stall, literally kissing the street which sold excellent Hummus with Pita Bread, the owner was a Moroccan fellow who was jolly even on a dreary cold afternoon and always served me a pita sandwich overflowing with vegetables and a generous dash of Hummus. There are of course dozens of Chinese take-always there which offer reasonably good food.

It’s no secret there has been a recent surge in the London street-food scene. The number of vendors is growing. The standard of the food started high and is getting higher. There are more areas around London that are welcoming friendly food vans, trucks, and airstreams that serve everything from good ol’ pork pies and scotch eggs to Korean comfort food. New markets are popping up around London with even more street-food vendors. It’s easy to see that the capital is quickly becoming a street-food force to be reckoned with.

Anna Mae’s Smokehouse

Serving up Southern-style street food, Anna Mae’s has become a hit with Londoners lacking a little pulled pork and ‘slaw in their lives. The Notorious P I G (Anna’s name for a pulled-pork sandwich) is smoked for 14 hours, then doused in their signature barbecue sauce, topped with pickled red onions and served with a cup of ‘slaw. Just make sure you take enough serviettes! You can find Anna Mae’s every Thursday 7-10pm at The Shop NW10 (75 Chamberlayne Road, NW10) and occasionally at Eat.St King’s Cross (King’s Boulevard, N1, between Pancras Road and Goods Way).

Eat My Pies

Eat My Pies is quintessential British street food at its best. Serving fare such as scotch eggs, pork pies and custard tarts, Eat My Pies aims to “make great British food available to the great British public”. And that they do, in spades. The smoked-haddock scotch egg is something to behold, but save some space for the chorizo pie. Catch them Thursdays and Fridays at White Cross Market (Whitecross Street, EC1) and Saturdays at Broadway Market in Hackney.

Jamon Jamon

If you’re a fan of paella, you have to check out the ever-popular Jamon Jamon stalls at the Real Food market behind the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank, and Portobello Road market in W11. With at least two huge paella pans on the go, the smell of spice and prawns hits you long before you reach it, which is some reward for the snaking queues. Alongside seafood, the paella Valenciana is a favourite (chicken and runner beans) – and if you happen to bump into them at a festival, send us your verdict on the fryella, an English breakfast-style combo including bacon, eggs and beans.

Kimchi Cult

 When I say burgers, sandwiches, fries and chicken do you immediately think Korean-fusion street food? No, didn’t think so. If, like me, you are new to Korean fast-food, then this is as good an introduction as any. Danny O’Sullivan and Sarah Hogg’s Korean-style fast food venture is proving a hit, with their Korean-inspired sliders (miniature burgers topped with kimchi) winning kimchi fanatics and newcomers alike. They can often be found at Eat.St (as before)

Lucky Chip

 One of the delights of Netil market is this pop-up homage to the 50s American diner experience. A homage it might be, but it’s better than any diner I’ve ever been to. Hand-cut chips with the skins on, served with wasabi mayo and sweet chilli, and juicy, meaty aged beef burgers topped with the meltiest cheddar. Who can fault it? They’re at Netil market (Westgate Street, London Fields, E8) every Saturday, and have a more permanent residence at The Sebright Arms (31-35 Coate Street, Bethnal Green, E2).


Crêperie Nicolas

I love crêpes, which is why I had to squeeze this one in. Traditional yes, boring never. They also serve fresh coffee, which is a nice touch for a lazy breakfast option. The savoury galettes are made with organic buckwheat flour, the brie, bacon and mushroom tastes as good as it sounds, while the sweet crêpes use a vanilla-flavoured batter. There’s a full board of fresh fillings, but the Nutella lover won’t be disappointed either. They are normally at the Real Food Market (as before) on the weekends and Eat.St (as before).

On Cafe

Not traditional street food, but I had to include On Cafe. Sweet tooths will be delighted by the mouth-watering macaroons. Regulars at the Real Food market (as before), they also cater for events around London serving the most beautiful, Japanese-inspired macaroons. I tried the black sesame, and the jasmine and charcoal macaroons, and was blown away. Honestly, follow these guys everywhere they go.

Churros Garcia

Finalists in the 2010 Street Food Awards, Churros Garcia represents all that is wonderful about the street-food revival. A Spanish family business that has been making churros by hand for more than 40 years, you can find them at Broadway Market, Real Food market and Portobello market. Churros Garcia is proof, if you ever needed it, that doughnuts are best served hot! Eat them as they come: try them with sugar or cinnamon – but frankly you’d be crazy not to eat them “con chocolate” – with dark, Spanish dipping chocolate.

Well Kneaded Wagon

Do you know what firebread is? And you call yourself educated? It’s this little red-and-cream food van’s answer to pizza. With a clay oven built into the back, they churn out chewy sourdough bases loaded with fresh toppings for their hungry pizza-loving followers. I recommend the “Fresh” with beetroot, goat’s cheese and spinach but they also do a sweet pizza with a maple-syrup base topped with apples, cinnamon, and walnuts for the sweet tooths. Get your firebread at Battersea High Street market (Battersea High Street, SW11) and Eat.St (as before).

Yum Bun

For the days when only a pork bun will do, you need to run, not walk, to Yum Bun. Free range Blythburgh pork, slow roasted then gently fried, is stuffed into a rice bun and slathered with hoi sin sauce, cucumber, spring onions and sriracha. Fortunately for vegetarians and non-pork lovers there’s also a veggie option and yummy Asian broths and soups to try. Check them out at Broadway market (Broadway market, London, E8 4QG) on Saturdays and Eat.St King’s Cross (King’s Boulevard, London, N1C between Pancras Road and Goods Way).

The streets of India are fertile grounds for food exploration. Pavements are crowded with makeshift stalls, stands, and people pulling entire kitchens out of their packs to set up on top of a cardboard box. Each walla (street vendor) has his own style, his own recipe — generally for just one dish he regards his specialty — and tries making even the cheapest of setups look attractive to draw customers.

In India, life spills out onto the pavement, meaning every stage of the preparation process is on display, and not just the finished product.

The streets of old Delhi are a maelstrom of activity, and one of the most important narratives is the one concerning food.

I’ve walked these lanes with my friends from the nearby Delhi University, eating parathas while they collected costume supplies for the Shakespeare Society from their most trusted vendor.

When I re-visit it this time I have a mission to dispel and to reaffirm — in the steam of the best chai and the oil of the best puris — the traditional eating advice for old Delhi. Travel guides are so dusty on the subject you could lose your appetite.

Chandni Chowk Area

When you are in Old Delhi, you just can’t miss the food there. The streets buzz with activity and are filled with the aroma of food. For the connoisseurs, there are restaurants like Karim’s. For the food historians, there’s a chance to taste Butter Chicken at Moti Mahal.

 Chandni Chowk, often called the food capital of India, is famousfor its street food. The variety consists of snacks, especially chaat.

If you wish to enjoy it, shed your high-brow attitude to soak in the flavours and delicacies. Come on, everybody… Yes, it’s a kind of celebration in congregation. Chandni Chowk resembles a fair everyday. The streets are lined with halwais (sweet-sellers), namkeenwallahs (sellers of savouries) and paranthewallahs


A good idea would be to start with the Paranthewali Gali. It became a famous gourmet locality when the parantha shops moved here in the 1870s. This lane has been the haunt of many celebrities of India. In the years after Independence, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and his family members – Indira Gandhi and Vijaylaxmi Pandit – came here to take their parantha meals. Jayaprakash Narayan and Atal Behari Vajpayee were also among the regular visitors.

 Though the number of shops in this lane has reduced – one wonders if their owners are more interested in McDonald’s franchises – there still are a few left from the good old days. Perhaps the oldest among these is Pt Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan, established in 1872. Others include Pandit Devi Dayal’s (1886) and Kanhaiya Lal Durga Prasad’s Parantha Shop (1875). The paranthas are fried in pure ghee in cast-iron pans. They are served with Mint Chutney, Banana – Tamarind Chutney, vegetable pickle and Aloo Subzi. Half a century back, you could get only a few varieties – Aloo Parantha, Gobhi Parantha and Matar Parantha, stuffed with potato, cauliflower and peas respectively. While these continue to be the most popular, there are several new variants. These include lentils, fenugreek, radish, papad, carrot and mixed. Besides, there are paranthas which cost slightly more and include those stuffed with paneer, mint, lemon, chilly, dry fruits, cashew, raisins, almond, rabdi, khurchan, banana, karela, lady’s finger and tomato.


The real flavour of the Delhi street food lies in the chaat. The original chaat is a mixture of potato pieces, crispy fried bread, Dahi Bhalla, gram and tangy-salty spices. The mixture is garnished with sour home-made Indian chilly and saunth (dried ginger and tamarind sauce), fresh green coriander leaves and yoghurt. However, there are several other popular variants now, including the one with an Aloo Tikki. Let us explore a few of the chaat shops. Shree Balaji Chaat Bhandar (1462, Chandni Chowk; Noon to 10pm) is perhaps the best and most popular chaatwallah in Chandni Chowk. We particularly recommend the Papdi Chaat with its liberal inclusion of Kachaalu Chutney, Khasta Papdis and saunth. Bishan Swaroop (1421, Chandni Chowk; 10am to 10pm) is one of those gems tucked away in the chaotic by-lanes of Chandni Chowk which keep alive the magic of another time, another taste.

 Since 1923, this tiny little stall has dished out just three items: awesome Aloo Chaat, fabulous Aloo ke Kulle and mouth-watering Fruit Chaat.

 You cannot afford to give a miss to the authentic chaat at Lala Babu Chaat Bhandar (77, Chandni Chowk, Near McDonald’s; 11am to 10pm). Glorious Gol Gappe served with a type of Jal Jeera that’s packed with harad (a digestive), kachoris stuffed with potato and peas, Gobhi-Matar Samosas, Dahi Bhalla and Matar Paneer Tikki are the fastest-selling items here. Jugal Kishor Ramji Lal (23, Dujana House, Chawri Bazaar, Chandni Chowk; 10.30am to 10pm) is best known for the Fruit Chaat that has become a quintessential part of the sounds and sights of Chandni Chowk. Though they do offer a version of Pao Bhaji and Aloo Tikki, it’s the Fruit Chaat that is the winner here. Dahi Bhalla need not always be a part of chaat; it can be served as a principal dish as you will find at Natraj Dahi Bhalla. The delicacy called Dahi Bhalla is a deep-fried urad dal dumpling smothered in whipped curd. Often, it is streaked with chocolatebrown laces of sweet-sour tamarind chutney. Pink pomegranate seeds glisten in the folds of the curd. Natraj is located near Bhai Mati Das Chowk at the turning to Chandni Chowk metro station.

Kachori, usually stuffed with pulses and served with potato curry, is another delicacy that makes your mouth water. Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala (1104, Chhatta Madan Gopal, Chandni Chowk; 10.30am to 8pm) is perhaps the most famous for its Urad Dal Kachori, which is served with Aloo Subzi. This place is surely worth the adventure.


On the sweeter side, Rabdi Faluda is a must. And the place to have it is Giani di Hatti near the Fatehpuri Mosque. It has now become an ice-cream parlour specializing in exotic flavours like Litchi and Bubblegum. Apart from standard ice creams, they also serve milkshakes, fruit shakes, ice-cream shakes and sundaes. If you are interested in kulfi – a flavoured frozen dessert made of milk – venture towards the Ajmeri Gate. The popular name here is Siya Ram Nannumal Kulfiwale (629, Gali Lodan, Ajmeri Gate; 7am to 4pm). What you get here is kulfi as kulfi should be – sinful, scrumptious and oh-so-splendid! Order any flavour – Kesar, Pista, Rose, Kewra, Banana, Mango, or Pomegranate. Or better still, order one of each…. Indulge!


Coming back to Chandni Chowk, you meet the Old and Famous Jalebiwala just before you enter Dariba Kalan. Refresh yourself with a delicious plate of hot jalebis – a sweet made by deepfrying batter in a kind of pretzel shape and then soaked in syrup. Also, don’t miss the Jama Masjid area that buzzes with activity. The aroma of food wafts to your nose from the Urdu Bazaar facing Gate No. 1 of the Masjid and a side street called Matia Mahal. The smell of fresh fish, aromatic kebabs and fried chicken is in the air. Vendors sell kebabs and tikkas (made of buffalo meat) wrapped in rumali roti (paper-thin bread) at throwaway prices. The Mutton Burrahs here are easily the best in the city. They are practically the only place to serve Nihari and Paaya, which are all sold out by 8.30am Other unmissables are Stew, Mutton Korma, Shammi Kabab and Shahjahani Korma.


Ghantewala at Chandni Chowk is more than 200 years old. The sweets here are prepared in pure desi ghee. Highly recommended are the Sohan Halwa Papdi, Pista Samosa and Badam Burfi – truly sinful pieces of heaven on earth.

 Delhi’s only tea boutique worth its name, this place bursts with atmosphere. Midway between New and Old Delhi, tourists in the know and locals in search of that magical cuppa beat a retreat to this store-cum-drawing room. Even if tea is not your thing, you can pick up gifts for friends. Even though it has distinctly frayed at the edges, the restaurant offers the cuisine it truly pioneered in the city – Dal Makhni, Butter Chicken, Reshmi Kabab, Murgh Musallam. After all these years, the Tandoori Chicken is still succulent. Chor Bizarre is one of the few restaurants to serve Kashmiri food and attempts to replicate a ‘thieves market’ in its decor. Specially recommended for non-vegetarians is the Tabak Maaz. Also good are the Yakhni, Rishta and Goshtaba, besides the wonderful greens – Haaq.




Butter Chicken originated at the Moti Mahal, Darya Ganj in the 1950s. The restaurant was famous for its Tandoori Chicken. The cooks there would recycle the chicken juices that were left over by adding butter and tomato. Once, be it by chance or by design, this sauce was tossed around with pieces of Tandoori Chicken. And the rest is history. Butter Chicken was born and soon set tongues drooling the world over. Butter Chicken is creamy with thick, red tomato gravy. It tastes slightly sweet. The sauce percolates into the chicken pieces, making them soft and juicy. This melt-in-mouth dish tastes best with tandoori roti or naan.




The list is endless since the geographical limitations of these countries don’t exist but the point is that food eaten on the street side eateries has a character of its own.The noise.smells,traffic,pollution add to the “magic” and completes the gastronomical experience.

As I continue to walk the streets,I sense the cultures of the city and thank God that they peacefully co-exist with the dine dinning restaurants where eating out is like eating in,controlled,sophisticated and chic.But the real food translates into the streets,whereby on a cold bitter,windy afternoon,chomping on a juicy Hummus filled sandwich,gives you a high which is unexplainable.

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