Who doesn't like to eat, right? If you are a foodie the streets of India are a haven. Spicy, salty, sweet, crunchy - street food in India has every element you can hope for. We tell you about six food walks you must go for when you're exploring the country's unique dishes!
If there were ever a discussion about the superiority of the round, hollow deep-fried flour ball found across India, the humble phuchka from Bengal, filled with black chickpeas and potato, would always win. And if you ask us, phuchka is reason enough to visit the state capital, Kolkata. Beyond this, the assortment of food and flavours found in this city stands unparalleled. To help you navigate, Calcutta Walks organises several food walks that let travellers experience the plethora of tastes that the city has to offer. Join the Cabin Food Walk that maps out the quaint restaurants in Old Kolkata or try out their Street Food Calcutta walk where guests can enjoy the iconic street treats—kathi rolls, fish fry, dalpuri, jhaal muri, soota kebab and, of course, phuchka. Calcutta Walks offers the kind of experience that will leave you wanting more, making it a treat for locals and tourists alike. From `3,000 per person, inclusive of all food items; calcuttawalks.com
Jonty Rajagopalan has stylised her first name, Jayanti, quite aptly. Jaunty on the get-go and always in the know, she has an arsenal of some meticulously researched food tours in Hyderabad. Her company, Detours India, has been operating since 2008 and provides four walks—The Biryani Detour, a three-hour sojourn where you get to try variants of the dish in the country’s biryani capital; The Andhra Spice Detour, which we can personally vouch for, that covers all aspect of the state’s fiery cuisine, be it market, masala or cooking; The Hyderabadi Vegetarian Detour, where you journey into a traditional home; and The Indian Vegetarian Detour, which takes a top-down look at the country’s vegetarian traditions. If you aren’t enticed by any of these offerings, or if you would like to work out your own permutations and combinations, just let Jonty know and she will work something out. Her prices may seem a bit steep, but you can expect the extraordinary. Prices available on request; +91-9000850505; detoursindia.com
In Chennai, Storytrails uses food to weave stories of the cultures and the communities that have built the city. The company was conceived with the idea of understanding India through personal anecdotes and through the eyes of the storytellers. “Sampling delicious local cuisine at the place where it all started many years ago, listening to stories of the ingredients that have travelled from across the world makes it a charming and memorable moment for travellers,” says Lakshmi Shankar, the business head for tours at Storytrails. The food trail—about two-and-a-half hours long—leads travellers through the winding streets of Sowcarpet Market where they can sample chaat and local delicacies like murukku sandwich, thattu idli and the sweet palkova. The accompanying storyteller narrates the history of the market and the city, and even dishes out secret recipes. Storytrails also operates and conducts walks in Madurai, Puducherry and Thiruvananthapuram. From `1,400 per person, including food and bottled water; storytrails.in
A sandwich topped with sev at Marine Drive or a buttery pav bhaaji at Chowpatty comes to mind when we think of street food in Mumbai. It may be simple, eat-on-the-go type fare, but doesn’t mean it lacks in taste or variety. We believe that your affair with street food in Mumbai should go beyond the regulars— kebabs, bhel puri and sev puri. The Food Tours of Mumbai organises the Fort Food Tour in the iconic Fort area of south Mumbai. During the three-hour walk, tourists can savour the staple vada pav or the Parsi berry pulao; then go on to try fruity milkshakes, a peppery fish curry, Mumbai-style sandwiches (made with beetroots) and some delectable Mughlai dishes. The tour ends with a swirl of creamy, buffalo-milk ice cream. Also worth trying is the Bohra Thal Experience, which offers a homemade, five-course meal from the Dawoodi Bohra community. `3,000 per person, inclusive of all food items; foodtoursofmumbai.com
In India’s Silicon Valley, the profusion of IT companies has resulted in scores of diverse eateries sprouting faster than the ubiquitous parthenium that plagues its residents. But the city has its very own food culture, and can be best enjoyed through one of Bengaluru by Foot’s food tours. The Pettah Food Walk traces the old city in Kempe Gowda’s erstwhile fort. This vegetarian tour starts with kashi halwa and kesari bath. The next stop is a 100-year-old bakery and then, various restaurants where tourists can try naans, nankhatais, idli and dosa. A little off-beat is their Dastarkhawan Food Tour, organised in Fraser Town, perfect for meat lovers. The word dastarkhawan refers to the traditional Muslim eating area, where the food could be as simple or elaborate as one wishes it to be. The delicacies on this tour are home-made, representing an array of cuisines like Awadhi, Mughlai, Kutchi, Bengali, Hyderabadi and Bangalorean. From `2,000 per person, with minimum four people in a tour; bengalurubyfoot.com
In the meandering streets of Old Delhi, find lip-smackingly delicious chaat, chhole kulche, sabzi kachori, badam halwa and, of course, the food-coma-inducing parathas that best describe this melting pot. But not everyone will know the best place to try rabdi faluda or have the ultimate cup of chai. This is where India Food Tour steps in. They offer exclusive private tours that are customised to suit guests’ palates and interests. In Delhi, they conduct four food walks (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) across Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Khari Baoli spice market and Chawri Bazar, where visitors try authentic north Indian food from some of the oldest eateries. On any given walk, visitors are presented more than 15 dishes to taste, with some light sightseeing thrown in (they don’t want you to get too full too fast). Visitors can even request for a local chef to accompany them for further insight. India Food Tour offers food walks in Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur as well. From `5,200 per person on purchase of two tickets, and includes all food items, bottled water, pick-up and drop-off, and entry fee for monuments; indiafoodtour.com