Whether you’re a citizen of Bhubaneswar or just a tourist to the city, you can’t escape the aroma of the street foods in the city. We Bhubaneswarians have a thing for street foods, which is evident from the insanely crowded fast food stalls located across the city.
Over the past couple of years, the city has witnessed the infiltration of many restaurants, hotels and even leading food chains including KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Subway. The growth of food chains has offered city dwellers an eclectic array of food options to choose from. For example, these days, we can spend a few extra bucks and enjoy cuisines ranging from Chinese to Italian in our very own city.
Interestingly, despite the invasion of pizzas, burgers and sandwiches, the popular madness for desi street foods has remained largely unscathed.
The mouthwatering whiff of Gupchup and Dahi-Bara or Chat as you go past the food venders on your way to college or work, is enough to drive you crazy.
Talking about city’s omnipresent delicious street foods, let’s hit the top 5 on desi chart. And here are top 5 indigenous street foods the city drools over.
Gupchup, also known as Panipuri and Poochka, is one of the top street foods you can barely resist. From college-bound teens to health-conscious grown-ups, everybody loves the spicy tangy taste of Gupchup. Available only at every corner of city streets until a few years ago, Gupchup can now be found (at a premium price) across some city malls as well. They serve you gupchup in a whole new way, making it seem very hygienic and sophisticated for the upwardly mobile consumers. But, truth be told, Gupchup is best enjoyed when you’re standing with your buddies circling the street vendor and waiting for your turn under the twilight sky of a warm summer evening, asking the vender “Bhaina gote sukhila te dauna or Bhaina tike khatapani dela”.
Honestly, something as dramatically desi as Gupchup feels its best only when it’s consumed in desi style. Well, maybe a little unhygienic, but you can never say NO to Gupchup. Can you?
Just like Gupchup, Chat offers the exact sweet and sour flavor but in a more colorful and spicy way. The way some street vendors decorate their Chat stall creates an illusion of some kind of artificial rainbow. The deep purple color of beetroot, the red tomato, the sweet pink onion, the mesmerizing green coriander and the golden pampad create a visual treat. Aaloo chat, pampdi chat, and so many other varieties of chat are visually so tantalizing, sometimes it’s really hard to decide which one you should go for.
So you want your plate of chat to be extra crunchy, spicy or tangy? Worry not – you can have it however you want it. Near the chawk, in front of your collage gate or beside any mall, you find variety of chat stalls. If you’re in the city and still have not tried it yet, this one comes highly recommended. You may order a half-plate at the beginning but, I am sure, you will end up ordering two more plates – it’s that delicious
Bara-guguni, can be easily billed as the Khhanti Odia comfort snack. Bara is a deep fried pulpy paste prepared from black gram (commonly known as biri) and Guguni is basically a curry made from dried field peas (commonly known as matar). In isolation, both bara and guguni can rock your snacks; but in tandem, they literally leave you asking for more. No wonder why the city has just as many temples as it has stalls of Bara-guguni vendors. Hot bara dipped in warm guguni is the most popular and convenient snack for many students and professionals alike.
Proverbially put, hot baras sell like hot cakes in the city, and with guguni garnished right, they can potentially catapult a humble unknown street vendor to hall of fame in the city overnight. In reality, many bara-guguni stalls have emerged as a part of our city life, where people of every age group can be found enjoying a healthy snack and sharing a refreshing khatti.
The greatest thing about Bara is that it can be consumed in more than one way, and yet each and every time, you feel its magical taste in a whole new way. This is exactly why Dahi-Bara came into being (time unknown) and swept the city off its feet. Bara soaked in curd water and served with aloodum is our all-time favorite snack. You will find dahi bara walla (dahi bara seller) selling dahi bara at every crowded place. They don’t have any stalls but they can be referred as the meals on the wheels. While some of them station themselves at specific locations of the city, others just travel across the city streets with their containers loaded typically on a bicycle. They tie huge pots filled with dahi barra and guguni/ aloodum to their cycles and roam across the city to give you a plate full of mouthwatering goods. And we bhubanewarians took it as breakfast, lunch and dinner too.
Idli And Dosa
Originated in Southern part of India, Idli and Dosa have also become daily diet of many Bhubanewarians. Idli is a steamed cake made from rice flower and black gram and served with sambar and chatni and dosa is a flat oval shaped rice and gram crispy roti, stuffed with potato, green peas, carrot, beet and other spices. In many parts of the city, South Indian hotels tend to sell Idli and Dosa more than any other cities in South India itself. Despite not being originated in Odisha, Idli and Dosa have become an indispensable part of our day to day life replacing traditional Enduri and Chakuli Peetha, not only as the staple source of breakfast but evening snack as well.
No matter how rich you are or how sophisticated your taste is, these street foods unite the city, drawing all street-food lovers closer as they share the same space on a daily basis. While hygiene standards will differ from vendor to vendor, I strongly recommend you consume these fast foods by the roadside in pure desi style unless you are hyper sensitive to cleanliness.
Go indulge yourself in the mouthwatering flavors of street foods of the city and enjoy great fun with your friends and family.
Article by: Sushree Pattanayak