Street food is an essential part of the Indian culture and cuisine. There are a number of street foods from across the country that are famous, but nothing can beat the hot and crispy kachoris and samosas from Benaras or Varanasi. The holy city is situated on the banks of the river Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradeshand its food is defined by its culture and tradition.
According to Chef Ashwani Kumar Singh from the Leela Ambience Convention Hotel in Delhi, “The food of Benaras or Varanasi is influenced by its people. You will find Marwari traders and people from nearby states including Bihar and West Bengal in the city have added their own regional touch to the local cuisine. The vegetarian delicacies are majorly prepared in desi ghee and mustard oil, be it spicy, sweet or sour. Most Varanasi sweets have a milk and ghee base like the Magdal, Sankat Mochan ke Laddoo, Parval Mithai, Kheer Mohan and Launglata among others.” Here are some popular street snacks from Varanasi or Benaras that you must try if you ever visit the city.
1. Kachori Sabzi
Kachori sabji makes for the most popular Kaleva (breakfast) option in Benaras. There are two different types of kachoris- badi and choti kachori. Badi kachori is stuffed with masala made of lentils called dal ki pithi and choti kachori is stuffed with a spicy potato mixture. Both of these kachoris are savoured with garam masala wali aloo ki sazi and desi ghee jalebi. What a way to start your day!
2. Chena Dahi Vada
Chena is similar to Rasmalai in terms of shape and is dipped in sweet yogurt and a hint of masala made of jeera and black salt. It makes for a perfect mix of sweet and sour. The coriander garnishing makes it more refreshing.
Makhan Malaiyyo or Nimish is a popular winter street dessert that is influenced by Persian way of cooking. Milk froth is flavoured with saffron and cardamoms and garnished with pistachios and almonds. Served in purva or kulhads, this creamy froth will literally melt in your mouth.
4. Choora Matar
This street food is basically a Benarasi twist to the Poha or Kanda Poha. It is flattened rice soaked in desi ghee and tempered with various spices along with fresh green peas to which milk or cream is added along with raisins and saffron. It tastes best with a hot cup of masala chai.
5. Thandai and Lassi
Varanasi is a city that produces lots of milk and curd and therefore, you’ll find them in most of their preparations. Benarasi Thandai is made from seasonal fruit puree. Along with that, lassi is available at almost every other street shop from morning till wee hours of the night. It is served in a kulhad topped with Rabri and flavoured with rose essence.
6. Dahi Chutney Wale Gol Gappe
Dahi Chutney wale Gol Gappe are also popularly known as Meethe Golgappe that offer both spicy and sweet flavours. This street snack are just like chaat paapdi is, the only difference is that it uses wafer thin and crisp Gol Gappas instead of the paapdi.
7. Laaiya Chana
Laaiya Chana is similar to what Jhalmuri and Bhelpuri is but it has soaked boiled chana instead of puffed rice. It includes onions, tomatoes, peanuts and lots of masalas. This snack tastes best with a cup of tea.
8. Baati Chokha
Baati Chokha, which is popularly savoured in Bihar makes for a tasty street snack in Varanasi too. Baati is a wheat ball stuffed with sattu and Chokha is a mash of brinjal and potatoes mixed with various spices. People like to keep the chokha simple and less spicy.
9. Tamatar Chaat
Benaras has its own version of the famous chaat which is made with tomatoes and you’ll only find it here. It is a spicy preparation in which tomatoes are mixed with hing, pounded ginger, green chillies and spices with the addition of boiled potatoes. It is served in a dona (bowl made with palash leaves) along with chaat masala and small sized crispy namak pare.
These mouthwatering street snacks will create everlasting food memories and you must try them. Let us know if we’ve missed any.