Street food is one of my guilty passions. I passed a young lad working on his food cart in Khanna Market. He worked the prepared wheat flour dough into a saucer shape, then pressed in some spicy cooked potato, sealed it up and rolled it out to the size of a side plate. He flapped it from side to side in his hands and slapped it onto a hot plate with a drizzle of ghee. When the thick pancake was cooked, he wrapped it in newspaper and gave me a small cardboard fluted dish full of chick pea curry. I helped myself to spicy chutney hanging in a plastic bag. It was too hot to eat immediately. For an additional 10 pence I got a glass of cold salt lassi. Delicious.
There is a dessert version of parathas – served with jaggery (palm sugar). In Mumbai, you can get parathas topped with Nutella instead. Momos, the Indian version of dim sum, usually have savoury fillings, but there is a version filled with melted chocolate instead.
I need to try more modern Indian fusion food. The Hindustan Times Sunday Magazine, “Brunch”, has a feature on new versions of traditional dishes.
Savoury dishes are easy targets for fusion food. Butter chicken is delicious (especially at Anmol Chicken, opposite the Jama Masjid in Urdu Bazar Road) but very rich, so combining it with pasta, such as penne, would be a great combination.
How about Maggi noodles as a topping for pizza? “You can’t go wrong with these two dishes,” says blogger Neeru Singh. I beg to differ.
Gulab jamun are those brown golf ball sized sweets, swimming in sugar syrup. But why not add them to a cheese cake? Dahi Bhalla consists of fried vedas (small dumplings made with ground dhal), curd, chutney, pomegranate seeds, potato cubes, chilli powder. A chef in Gurugram must have been watching Heston Blumenthal because he has turned this into an ice cream.
I remember being introduced to classical Indian food 40 years ago by the cookbooks of Mahdur Jaffrey. You don’t know who she is? For Daily Telegraph readers, “Madhur Jaffrey is to curry what Delia is to a Sunday roast.” But I wonder what she would make of this bastardised fusion food?
I prefer traditional food – dahi papdi – made with crunchy namkeen. Here it is being served in Chandni Chowk at the weekend. The cart contains all the necessary ingredients, thinly sliced boiled potato, green mango, vedas, spicy lemon water, curd, spices, chutney (what have I left out?). Add vedas to water to soak for a minute, squeeze them out and crush, add mango, potato, curd, spicy gravy, thick papadums…glorious. Creamy, piquant, spicy, salty, sour, sweet, with the contrast in texture from crunchy sev to soppy vedas.