I love, love, LOVE street food and had such a great time tasting my way around the scene in India. It’s one of my favorite parts of exploring new places. Thankfully, my stomach has the strength and stamina to handle my sense of adventure.
I was intrigued by the crowd at this vendor in the heart of the main food market in Pune and asked what the fuss was about. There were a few items in the offing but was encouraged by all in the vicinity to try the wada pav.
Wada pav are spiced potato patties coated in graham flour and lightly fried, served on a little bun and accompanied with pickled chilies (or chutney). At this locale, it’s served on swank, crisp magazine pages. My Indian friends had a good laugh when I told them about this latest of my food discoveries. It’s really considered nothing special at all….just a super-cheap, fast food. While it’s true it only cost 8 rupees (about $0.17), it was a food revelation for me.
My next discovery was kachi dabeli: buns (again) stuffed with masala spiced potatoes, pomegranate seeds and spicy peanuts, and served with delicious tamarind and coriander sauces and a chili oil. The stuffed bun is ‘sauteed’ with a little ghee…
Then there’s the world of panipuri. They are everywhere in Pune. These little crispy discs get filled with a mixture of spiced chickpeas and potatoes that are then dipped into a water/tamarind/chili sauce (in the silver pot below).
You pop ’em straight in your mouth and let the spices wash over your tongue. I was so thrilled with the discovery that even my trepidacious friend decided to give it a try. This panipuri walla was so pleased that we enjoyed his food so much, he wouldn’t take our rupees.