Indian Street Food Guide

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When was the last time you tasted a samosa or a kachori and wondered what other Indian snacks to try? From tasty samosas to mouth-watering panipuris, piping hot pav bhajis to the irresistible chole bhatures, there are so many types of Indian street food to give your tastebuds a culinary treat. This guide gives you an insight into some of the most popular Indian street food. 

India is vast, with different regions, languages and varied cultural heritages. But the common thread that connects every Indian from the foothills of the Himalayas to the chowks of New Delhi to the backwaters of Kerala – is street food. Many types of street food like samosa, kachori and momos are ubiquitous throughout India (especially in the urban areas). Some regions also have their own popular street dishes like mirchi bajji in Hyderabad, vada pav in Mumbai or ghugni chaat in Kolkata.

What’s also interesting is that a popular street food item like a samosa or a golgappa may have its own version in some states, like dahi puri (panipuris served with a curd and chutney stuffing), samosa chaat (samosas mashed and mixed with chole). Aloo (potato) is the most common ingredient used in most street food dishes in India, and by the time you try many street foods in India, you’d be pleasantly surprised how many flavours can be created using a simple potato.

indian vegetarian street food assorted indian food on dark wooden background.
Dishes and appetisers of Indian cuisine – curry, butter chicken, rice, lentils, paneer, samosa, naan, chutney, spices.

Indian street food has a massive following across the world. Popular cooking shows regularly feature Indian street food dishes; some even make their versions of popular dishes. Many of these dishes are served hot and consumed within a few minutes. When consumed in moderation, many Indian street foods can serve as healthy snacks and make for a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner. Here are some tips to ensure you can enjoy Indian street food without any hitches.

Indian Street Food

Top Street Food Tours

Tips For Eating Street Food In India

street indian food Young indian woman holding colorful fried food made of potato starch and sago
Looking for tasty street food in north India? Here’s a fried snack made from potato starch and sago far-far fryums.

1- Look for stalls with the most customers

More people at a stall means more demand and fresher items. Always choose reasonably crowded stalls as they are in demand for a reason. An empty stall can mean the food might be a bit stale.

2- Avoid uncovered dishes

Avoid dishes sitting out and open to the air. Always eat freshly prepared dishes and food cooked in front of you.

3- Avoid unhygienic stalls

Indian street food pani puri
A panipuri or golgappa street food stall in Kolkata.

This is an obvious one. Only eat from hygienic places, even if you are starving, and avoid stalls that are not maintained properly.

4- Insist on using packaged drinking water

Always insist on packaged drinking water for dishes like golgappas. Tap water is never used for drinking in India except in a few residential buildings with water purification plants.

5- Avoid water-based dishes during monsoons

This is a major one. Monsoons are the season when Indian cities receive a lot of rainfall and this is when water contamination is a serious problem for street food vendors.

We suggest you completely avoid certain water-based dishes (like golgappas or ice lollies) to avoid any issues. Don’t worry. There are still many dishes prepared hot, which you can enjoy.

6- Avoid fruit salads that are not fresh

There can be some dishes where fruit is used as a topping or salad. Insist on using freshly cut fruits for such dishes and not cut fruits that have been sitting for a while.

7- Ask friends or colleagues familiar with the city 

If you can find someone familiar with street food in the city you are in, you should take their advice about famous items and where to find them.

Some cities have street food tours to check out if you have time.

8- Consume in moderation

Indian street food fuchka close up of Indian street of fuchka on a plate.
Fuchka is another Indian street food.

Indian street food has many mouth-watering dishes to tempt your tastebuds. However, the explosion of sweet, salty, hot and sour flavours in your mouth can also mean unfamiliar food and spice experience for your tummy.

Overloading your stomach with unfamiliar food and spices can stress your digestive system, so ensure you consume any new dish in moderation.

Types Of Street Food In India

1- Samosa

Indian street food vegetarian samosa
Indian samosas with mango chutney and herb yogurt. Samosas are one of the most popular street food in India.

When you think of Indian street food, the snack that tops the list will be none other than the samosa.

The triangular-shaped samosa is a flaky-yet-tender pastry dish stuffed with spiced potato, peas and a few other ingredients.

This incredibly delicious snack is quite a versatile dish too.

It can be eaten as an appetiser, an ingredient for a larger dish, or a filling tea-time snack.

You can consume it hot or at room temperature, at home, in the office, or even while travelling.

The humble samosa is as diverse as India itself.

Local ingredients and regional influences can make a samosa into something new and delicious to consume.

Samosas can come in different sizes and fillings, such as corn, onion, cauliflower, cheese, paneer and mushroom.

In some regions, you can also try a non-vegetarian samosa with fillings of chicken, mutton or even shrimps.

2- Chole Bhature

Indian street food chole bhature
Plate of spicy chole bhature with green chili topping and chutney, a delicious Indian street food to try.

Also known as chana bhature, this dish is easily the most popular Punjabi dish eaten across India.

This dish is made by frying seasoned all-purpose flour in oil and served with spicy, tangy chickpea curry.

Once you take a bite of this sumptuous bhature dunked in chole, you can’t resist finishing the dish.

Along with a glass of chaas or buttermilk, this dish is a filling option for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Chole bhature is also as famous as a street food item as it is in a fine dining restaurant.

Many Indian restaurants have this snack on the menu, due to the dish’s popularity.

3- Panipuri (Golgappe, gupchups, puchkas)

indian street food restaurant
A tasty north Indian street food snack, gol gappe pane puri are round hollow golden balls fried from dough in hot oil.

Easily one of India’s most iconic street food, panipuris are light on the stomach but heavy on satisfaction.

These tiny tangy minty hollow puris burst into flavours as soon as you put them in your mouth.

Filled with boiled and mashed potatoes, chickpeas, and a mix of other ingredients, panipuris are consumed with spicy or seasoned sweet water.

Some like their puris spicy, some like them sweet, and some like yours truly love both.

This dish is heavenly when eaten on a hot summer day, and the maximum fun is when you are eating it at a roadside stall.

The vendor tries to fill you up with as many puris as you can in a short amount of time, and by the time you finish your quota of puris, be assured that you will be smiling.

Whenever anyone is feeling down, panipuris are the perfect food to cheer them up.

4- Kachori

Indian street food ring kachori
One of the most popular types of Indian street food is kachori, a homemade spicy Indian snack.

Kachori is a famous Indian chaat dish that originated in Rajasthan and is available in every street food stall across India.

It is a puffed pastry with different fillings like mashed potatoes, onions, lentils and chickpeas topped with creamy curd and tangy chutneys.

Like the samosa, kachori can be eaten hot or at room temperature and makes a perfect snack for small get together and parties.

If you are travelling through Rajasthan, you must try the Bikaneri Kachori for the most authentic version of the dish.

5- Aloo Tikki or Aloo Chaat

Indian street food chaat top view
Chaat is another yummy street food in India to look out for as you travel the land.

No better dish represents street food in India than the ubiquitous aloo tikki or aloo chaat.

In many cities, if you ask the vendor for “chaat”, the first thing he will ask is if you want aloo chaat. Chaat is the word used to describe any street food served hot.

The boiled potatoes mixed with spices are fried to get hot aloo tikki, also called aloo cutlet in some regions.

This circular piece of fried tikki is then garnished with diced onions and sometimes served with chole or tamarind and mint chutney.

Whichever Indian city you visit, your street food tour won’t be complete until you try the aloo tikki.

6- Onion Pakora

indian street food near me platter of six snacks on a pandan leaf
Delicious traditional Indian street food snack platter.

Onion pakora (fried onion fritters) is the perfect snack during India’s cold winters and cool monsoons.

Wash it down with hot chai, and you will have a combination of food to satisfy your hunger and improve your mood.

Onion pakora is made by frying onions dipped in gram flour mixed with spices and herbs and is delightfully crispy and crunchy at every bite.

The onions add a natural sweetness to the mix.

Sprinkle chaat masala on top of the pakora or pair the pakora with tangy chutney, and you will have a dish you can’t have enough of.

7- Paapdi Chaat

vegetarian indian street food
Next time you’re in India and looking for tasty street food, try Paapdi Chaat.

Paapdi chaat is another dish that is a quintessential chaat dish on any street food menu in India.

Paapdi is made from chickpea flour and fried in the shape of discs.

These crunchy discs are topped with boiled potatoes, onions, tomatoes, chutneys (along with sweet curd in some regions) and other garnishes.

These bite-sized discs are eaten along with all the toppings and give you a pleasant sweet-and-salty aftertaste.

Each plate would have at least three to five paapdis with all the toppings, enough to make you smile by the time you finish the plate.

8- Pav Bhaji

indian street food stall with chairs
A portable Pav bhaji fast food market stall selling Maharashtra street food in India like pav bhaji, vada pav, soft bread rolls, panipuri, bhelpuri, sevpuri, dahipuri, sandwiches, ragda-pattice, idlis and dosas.

Pav bhaji is one of Mumbai’s most famous street foods and is popular across India too.

Served with fluffy bread rolls called pavs, pav bhaji is the perfect way to combine different vegetables, all minced and cooked into a delicious spicy curry.

Freshly prepared at every stall, the aroma of buns getting caramelised with butter and the bhaji getting cooked will get even those who are not hungry craving a taste.

This dish has many versions throughout the country, depending on which vegetables are used to make the curry, but it is always served hot with a healthy sprinkle of diced onions, lime juice and other garnishes.

9- Bhutta (Roasted corn cob)

best indian street food Close-up hands of female street vendor is rubbing a roasted sweet corn cob with lemon and spices
An India street food vendor cooking sweet corn on the cob.

Bhutta is another delicious and healthy street food famous in every corner of India. Corn cobs are grilled on coal fires until they turn slightly charred.

Once the kernels are cooked, they are rubbed with salt, pepper and other spices along with lime juice.

This irresistible barbeque-style corn cob is then wrapped in the leaves and you can enjoy it as a snack on the go.

Sink your teeth into the kernels of the corn cob for an instant hot and sour taste balanced by the sweetness of the corn.

10- Momos

Momos are steamed or fried dumplings with various fillings ranging from mixed vegetables and cottage cheese to chicken, prawns or fish.

Steamed momos are especially healthy as they use little oil and have seasoned boiled vegetables as fillings.

The dish, originally popular in Northern India, has now made its way to every corner of the country.

Momos are eaten hot with a tangy sauce, and the combination, once popular in hill stations, is now a favourite in many cities throughout India.

Many restaurants have this item on their menu as a healthy snacking option and momo snack shops have sprouted up in many cities, where you can find a wide variety of momos to try.

11- Mirchi bajji

Indian street food chaat snack masala
Indian chaat masala street snack.

If you get a hankering for a spicy snack, mirchi bajji (stuffed chillis) is the perfect snack for you.

Originating in Hyderabad, Mirchi bajji is a lip-smacking street food made using chillis, gram flour and potato stuffing.

The chillis used are larger and less hot than the commonly used ones.

Each chilli is stuffed with boiled potatoes and coated with batter mixed with different spices, then deep-fried and garnished with chaat masala (a type of sweet and savoury masala made using grounded spices) and served hot.

This snack is popular in South India and is often served as finger food at large gatherings and parties.

12- Kathi Rolls

Kathi rolls (also called Frankies) are prepared with various vegetarian and non-vegetarian fillings rolled inside a chapati or a paratha.

The fillings are generally made of proteins like cottage cheese, mushrooms or chicken cooked in a style unique to the region – like the Chicken Chettinad famous in Tamil Nadu or Chicken Tikka famous in North India.

The spices and sauces used to make the fillings vary with every region.

Once these fillings are carefully wrapped into a roll, the vendor places the roll inside a disposable paper cover, and you can enjoy the delicious kathi roll on the go.

13- Bhelpuri or Jhalmuri

Bhelpuri is a light Indian street food snack made with almost no oil and has a delightful mix of puffed rice, peanuts, tomatoes, onions, chillis and other spices.

This snack has a low-calorie count and is most famously sold by specialist bhelpuri vendors from the beaches of Mumbai to the streets of Kolkata.

This Indian street food is also common in many public places, like bus stations and even inside moving trains.

You can easily identify a bhelpuri vendor by the basket hanging around their neck, puffed rice inside, and all other ingredients neatly placed in pockets around it.

Regional Street Food In India

14- Vada Pav, Mumbai

street food indian Selective focus macro shot of vada pav a fried potato in small buns
Vada pav is a popular Indian street food in Mumbai and a tasty snack to make at home.

Mumbai is famous for Bollywood, monsoon rains and the Gateway of India.

It’s also known for its variety of street food, and Vada Pav tops the list.

One of the main reasons why this dish is so popular is because it is so inexpensive and often a staple food.

Where else can you find a healthy and tasty snack which can double down as a breakfast or a light dinner?

Although vada pav is famously known as a Mumbai dish, its popularity has made it a common sight in many other cities in India and other countries.

15- Ghugni Chaat, Kolkata

Indian street food katchuri bowl piled with kachori
Another for of kachori spicy snack that’s popular in street food stalls in India.

This is one of Kolkata’s most famous (and healthy) street food and is also found in many other regions.

Ghugni chaat is made by mixing boiled white peas with onions, potatoes, chillis and various other spices and can be consumed by itself or with bread.

This protein-filled snack satisfies your hunger and gives you a spicy and tangy aftertaste.

This dish can be combined with other chaat dishes like samosa or aloo tikki, which makes it a good alternative for a missed lunch or dinner.

16- Thukpa Noodle Soup, North East

Thukpa noodle soup originated in the foothills of the Himalayas to provide travellers and locals with a hot and nutritious meal to consume in the cold weather.

This soup has made its way to almost every hill station in North India and is a popular street food in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

The noodle soup is made using long noodles and boiled vegetables mixed with a spicy broth and is always served hot.

This soup also invigorates your taste buds and gives you much-needed energy and warmth during a cold day.

17- Dabeli, Gujarat

One of the popular street foods in Gujarat, Dabeli is a delicious combination of boiled potatoes and a mix of spices put inside a burger bun and cooked with butter.

Pomegranate seeds and peanuts are then added as a garnish and the dish is served with a hot and sweet chutney.

Like the vada pav in Mumbai, dabeli is a staple food for many Gujaratis and has a strong following in many other Indian cities.

18- Dhokla, Gujarat

Another extremely popular street which is famous in Gujarat is dhokla.

This steamed snack is unique for its soft and spongy texture and its light yellow colour with a topping of mustard seeds and coriander.

Famously known as one of the healthy street foods in India, dhokla is a perfect snack for breakfast, tea time and as an entrée in restaurants.

The savoury, fluffy cake is consumed cold and has a juicy texture. Dhokla is made using gram flour and is served with chutney and green chilli.

19- Nagori Halwa and Bedmi Poori, Delhi

A combination of two dishes – nagori halwa and bedmi poori – is easily one of the most popular dishes on the streets of Delhi, especially during the cold winter mornings.

Bedmi poori serves as a savoury deep-fried puffy poori made from wheat flour, spices and dal and is generally paired with a potato preparation.

Nagori is a smaller crispy and crumbly poori made from semolina and wheat flour and is generally paired with a halwa made using semolina.

Nagori halwa and bedmi poori is a delicious sweet and spicy combination that makes a perfect snack on the go.

20- Ram Laddu or Moong Dal Laddu, Delhi

Laddu is commonly used to refer to any food item that is round in shape.

Ram laddu is a famous street food item in Delhi and is a deep-fried fritter made using yellow gram flour rolled into spherical balls.

These hot and crispy fritters are served with spicy and tangy sauces and a dash of chaat masala and diced onions.

This flavourful treat ensures that your appetite and your senses are both satisfied.

21- Poha Jalebi, Indore

Poha jalebi is a sweet and salty combination of two dishes – poha and jalebis.

Jalebis are one of the most famous Indian sweets, along with the gulab jamuns, and you’ll find these in every sweet shop in India.

Jalebis are made by deep frying gram flour soaked in sugar syrup and are loved for their sweet and juicy taste.

The spiral-shaped jalebis are combined with poha, a dish made using flattened rice and vegetables.

Poha is usually garnished with coriander, raw onions and grated coconuts and perfectly balances the sweetness of the jalebi with its mild spiciness.

This street food is a breakfast dish in many Indian households.

22- Dal Vada or Masala Vada, South India

Dal vadas are crunchy fritters made from gram flour, grounded gram and a mix of spices.

These disc-shaped fritters have a crunchy texture and mildly spicy flavour and are usually complemented by a spicy chutney.

Dal vadas are consumed hot and paired with chai during a cool monsoon or winter evening.

This snack is a popular tea-time companion for office goers, especially in South Indian cities like Hyderabad and Chennai.

23- Mysore Bonda, South India

Mysore bondas originated from Mysore in Southern India but are popularly known by the same name across many regions due to the distinct texture and style of preparation unique to this dish.

The dish is made from all-purpose flour, curd and a mix of spices and consists of many fried spherical balls.

Each ball is called a bonda and has a crispy outside with a fluffy inside.

Bondas are eaten with spicy coconut chutney and are a light snack to satisfy your hunger.

You can nosh this dish any time during the day and still have room to eat a larger meal later. 

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Vamsee Chandra lives in Hyderabad in India and is a financial markets trader by profession. An engineer with an MBA, he is a free-spirited traveller at heart. He has visited 17 countries on three different continents (Asia, Europe and North America) and has a personal target of visiting 50 countries before he retires. His favourite city is Paris, for its amazing museums and people. His favourite building is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, and his favourite countryside is the Bavarian region in Germany, where the Neuschwanstein Castle is located.