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The long way ahead for Street Food Vendors -Post Lockdown

In the wake of the current pandemic followed by the prolonged lockdown in the country, it is the country’s informal workforce that has been badly hit. The loss of livelihood and dwindling resources have left them in great distress. A notable chunk of this unfortunate category includes the street food vendors who are our prime stakeholders.

Apart from the suspension of work due to the deepening Covid-19 situation in India, the most worrying part of this crisis is that nobody can predict their comeback which seems to be long and arduous. We are deeply anxious as to what challenges will come their way once the grip of the pandemic loosens and things start getting back to normalcy. Also what kind of skill sets they would need to imbibe to win back the confidence of the consumers is what needs to be pondered about. These were the few questions that have been bothering us for a while and we are trying to get answers for it. 

Having spoken to a couple of the vendors like the one who sells parathe and the daulat ki chaat wala with whom we have been working closely, we realized how grim and uncertain their situation is.

To get some clarity about this distressing situation and the way ahead, where a huge chunk of the street food vendors all across the country are staring at an abyss of loss of livelihoods. and the way ahead, we spoke spoke to Ms. Sangeeta Singh who is the Head of Programs at NASVI. It is an organization working for the protection of the livelihood rights of thousands of street vendors across the country. Their scope of work also covers the street food vendors. 

Currently everyone is talking about the fate of the restaurant and hotel industries in the wake of the pandemic. But no voices have been heard about the plight and rehabilitation of the street food vendors. So what would be the status of the street food vendors once the crisis recedes. 

Sangeeta agreed that in Delhi itself many issues pertaining to the street food vendors have come to the forefront which they are trying to find solutions to. She is of the opinion that it is impossible to talk about the food of a place without mentioning the street food vendors. When we talk about food, culture, and tourism we should understand and acknowledge the fact that it’s the street food vendors who represent our food cultures to the world. Moreover when you go to any corner of India and yearn for the real food over there then you often approach a street food vendor.  

NASVI has been working with street vendors on different aspects. Since it is a livelihood advocacy organization, the major volume of their work is directed towards improving their livelihood. They train them on hygiene issues as the sale of hygienic food naturally boosts their income. Till now they have trained vendors from 19 to 20 states. She informed us that in their training itself the livelihood component is attached.

Due to the Covid crisis, we all are distressed but the section that is most affected is the informal workforce especially the own who are self employed there trouble is more and the plight of the food vendors is more than others and we are working on that. 

Speaking about the measures that they have undertaken during this pandemic, Sangeeta told us about the letters they have written to the PMO and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs mentioning that they should rope in the food vendors to distribute food arranged by the government to the needy. They know their respective localities so well hence they could have used that channel but that did not happen. 

As per an advisory general street vendors can resume work after sometime but not the street food vendors. They cited the issue of crowds.The government should think about what they will do for livelihood. They lack the capital to start something new and their savings would be exhausted soon. NASVI is working on ways to support them but they can’t fix things alone. They have distributed ration to 1500-1600 people from their own end but unless their livelihood is revived it really won’t make much difference to their ordeal. 

Currently they are thinking about an app through which vendors can directly stay connected to the customers. The food vendors are on tenterhooks whether they can put up their stalls soon after this. Sangeeta said that the coming three months of transition is going to be a phase full of confusion both for the vendors and consumers. She and few leaders from her field  have undergone training on Covid precautions. But what she really fears the most is that if e-commerce things pick up fast in the favour of the restaurants then the vendors might go into oblivion. Hence they are trying to find ways to implement home deliveries for the street food vendors and to train them. They would also be sensitizing the customers about their role and support. She further added that in the face of crisis we can’t dismiss them and leave them to their fate saying that we are afraid to have the food that they serve.  

Sangeeta rued the fact that there aren’t any credible bodies like the one working for the restaurants named National Restaurant Association of India. Their organization works for all vendors but has a specific team who works for street food advocacy. Recently we stood for the vendors in Mumbai. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) partners with them to conduct training programs for vendors.

So what all steps need to be undertaken for their survival? What are the alternative livelihood options and what will happen to their skill sets? These are some burning questions bothering the fraternity. 

 Sangeeta opines that the global change is going to affect them badly and we have to again work on their revival. Vendors are realizing the importance of hygiene. Hence they will have to adopt measures to ensure that the food they serve has to be hygienic otherwise people are going to reject it. We citizens along with have to create a positive ecosystem and have to show generosity to save the spine of the food culture. We have to educate vendors and give them proper training. Their unit is small and hence it is not hard for them to emulate the healthy practices.

We customers have to order things maintaining a distance. As far as the payment mechanism is concerned, digital things have been there for the past 3-4 years and have to be made more vigorous. Sangeeta believes that till date it was luxury but now it won’t work like that. Even the vendors won’t be able to take currency notes as they are vulnerable as well. If consumers are at risk, then the vendors too are at risk. So many things need to change. Currently the vendors have to display the guidelines from NASVI on their cart. Now they will be given Covid specific pointers that will be added to the current training module. 

 

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Mangalore food tour part 2

Mangalore as a city and Mangalorean cuisine has grown up to accommodate various cultures and ethnicity ranging from Muslims, Mangalorean Catholics and Saraswat Brahmins to name a few. Being a coastal city, it is easy to recognize that the staple diet here happens to be fish. Moreover, almost like all coastal cuisines it is spicy and rice based.

With, Karishma we explored the Hotel Maharaja which is situated on bunts hostel road in Mangalore, Karnataka. The restaurant is well- known for its ghee roast! We tasted some flavoursome Mangalorean delicacies To begin with, we tried shell fish (marvai) sukka. Sukka means dry in their local language and it is a sea fish prepared in Mangalorean style. This was followed by Neer dosa or what is also known as water dosa along with chicken curry. Neer dosa is prepared using the same usual batter that is used to prepare the basic dosas, except that a lot of water is added to the batter. Hence, the dosas are much thinner in their texture. With different dishes being brought to us we also tried the chicken ghee roast. It is a spicy dish cooked heavily in ghee with red chilli paste. Later, we tried the kori roti. An absolute favourite of the Mangalorean’s, these are crisp dry wafers made from boiled brown rice served alongside chicken curry. Kori means chicken in tulu. Kori rotis are also, readily available at grocery stores so if you want to take them back to your home, it won’t be much of a task! One ingredient that is taken into account while preparing almost major Mangalorean dishes is curry leaves. They are heavily used in almost all preparations.

Next, we head to one of Mangalore’s the most popular go-to spots is Giri Manja’s. This little eatery is tucked away in the car street. Highly recommended by the locals, it is a must try out here! Well-known for their sea-food we try their fish thali which consists of boiled rice served with kokam saar, fish curry and veg curry. The thali is served with bonda juice also known as tender coconut juice. Along with this, we tried the prawn fry locally known as yetti fry and squid fry which is known as bondas fry. We were then served with, anjal fry. A seer fish fried in Manjas style. This, happens to be their special dish, which is certainly a must-try! The flavours are tangy and the fish is marinated for the longest time thus, bound to capture your taste pallets.

 

At hotel Karthik, we try the Mangalore snacks. Here we ordered the very-famous Kalladka tea also known as KT, a three layer tea with the bottom layer consisting of condensed milk, foam and then served with decoction. This was served with banana podi locally known as parndh podi. These are banana fritters. The bananas used to cook these are known as Etha pazham banana. Then comes the Mangalore buns, sweet, soft and fluffy puris from Udupi, a well-known region in Mangalore. Not to forget, the goli bajje, a famous evening snack. These are soft and spongy fritters made with all-purpose flour, spices and herbs.

We were later introduced to, a local mobile shop known as Halli Mane rotties situated in Gandhinagar. The food joint offers three types of rotis made up of ragi, jowar and rice. These are really good for health and gluten-free! The rotis are served with a mixed vegetable curry and punarpalli juice also called as Kokam juice. The juice is sweet and good for digestion.

Right opposite to Kaddri park, is a lane which has quaint little food joints for everyone to try. We head to Dinky dine where we tried the grape juice. It is juice joint really famous in Mangalore. The day came to an end on a sweet note as we headed towards the ice-cream parlour. Here we tried the Marzi pan ice-cream, a sweet pan-flavoured ice-cream and gudbud, a multi-layer ice-cream consisting of three flavours, butterscotch, strawberry and vanilla served with cherries and fruits.

Places visited:

Maharaja Restaurant

1st Floor, Trade Centre, Near Jyothi Circle, Bunts Hostel Road, Balmatta, Mangalore

 

Giri Manja’s

Kalikamba Temple Cross Road, Mangaluru, Karnataka 575001

 

Hotel Karthik

Kulur Ferry Rd, Urwa Store, Kottara, Mangaluru, Karnataka 575006

 

Halli Mane

Pentland Pet Rd, Gandhinagar, Mangaluru, Karnataka 575003

 

Dinky Dine

Opp. Kadri Park, Mangaluru, Karnataka 5

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Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar : *heart eyes*

While wandering around the streets of Kamal Nagar ask any person to point the direction for the best chaat place around and every one will surely mention one place that is ‘Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar’. This incredibly famous chaat bhandar is the go-to for every person in Kamla Nagar who develop cravings for some sweet and tangy chaat. According to this place’s humble owner this place is around six decades old and has a very constant trend of satisfying their customers throughout.

As soon as you enter the lane which carries this amazing wonder you will see a swarm of people mushrooming around this joint  from quite a distance. Even the name board of this place screams how old this place must be as the alphabets are carved on a sandstone rather than using modern day techniques. As we believe that with every change in region in India , the flavours of the chaat has twists and turns of its own. As you proceed into this place you will see the barbecue  grills with seekhs of very delightful marinated paneer and soya chaap which tells you that this place is much more than just chaats and golgappas .

Their vast menu includes pav bhaji ,paneer tikka and various types of soya chaap. The owner of the shop recommended us to try their famous ‘Bhalla Papdi‘. It was basically a dish in which bhalla and few papdis are soaked in dahi which is then topped with chickpeas and potatoes along with some boondi, to add some more flavour to it , tamarind chutney and more dahi is added, then to give a final touch different combination of spices is sprinkled on to it. One particular thing that can be observed is that the chaats here are prepares in a Old-Delhi-style as it is topped with kachalu which is a trend that Old-Delhi chaat vendors follow a lot. This dish was delicious as it kicked the taste buds at all right places with perfect temperature of dahi. All the combination of the chutneys and spices worked perfectly for us. Next in we dug into to the classic pav bhaji , it was served with loads of butter on the bhaji and as well as on the buns too, it was served along with some onions and lemon slice. The flavour of the pav bhaji was amazing with bhaji being slight different in good way from the usual ones.

Even though there is no such concept as ‘ seating arrangements’ at this place , but the flavours and varieties of the tidbits that this place offers are worth a try.

Name : Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar

Address: 66-67/E, Near Chota Gol Chakkar, Kamla Nagar

Contact info : +91 9810195762

 

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Vinod Kumar Momos: Moh Moh ke flavours.

Momo vendors in Delhi are boundlessly populated at every crooks and nooks of the city. Let it be any type , whether it be steamed , fried , tandoori or gravy the people of this city never leave a chance when their taste buds call for this yummy snack. Moreover we being true foodies can never ever resist such simple yet so flavorful dish. However the traces of momos go back to a long time ago originated in Nepal, it still has a big trace on the hearts of every Delhi people.

So, we can find a small momo vendor called the ‘Vinod Kumar Momos’ near the bada gol chakkar i.e. the Spark mall at our very own Kamla Nagar giving out hot and steamy momos straight out of the steamer which results out in a two minute struggle to initially even hold the plate. After seeing such a sight we can do nothing to hold us back but  order a steaming plate of momos which is served in three different types which varies in nothing but the stuffing of these fluffy balls of flavor, the three different types of variants are veg ( a mixture of cabbage etc. ) , paneer (cottage cheese) and chicken.

All the three variants are served with spicy red chutney on the side and the momos themselves are topped with creamy mayonnaise  and sprinkled with various spices such as oregano and chilli flakes. The side served chutney hads a very fiery flavor which compliments the tangy taste of mayonnaise. As you take your first bite of this delicacy dipped in perfect amount of chutney  your taste buds experience the perfect mix of flavours that is the subtle flavour momo along with a gulp of tanginess of mayonnaise  along with hot flavour of the red chutney .

After hogging all the different momo variants you will definitely drop by this place frequently as it is located in a very convenient location so that you have no excuse to miss this particular food joint out. The prices too were very attractive with a good quantity with lots and lots of flavour which comes out of a very hygenic stall, this stall should be on your must try list for sure.

 

Name : Vinod Kumar Momos

Find it here : Near bada gol chakkar , Kamla Nagar.

Contact it through: 9643371308

 

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Agra ka Parantha and Tandoori Chai

As much as the breakfast food trail across Agra filled me up, it also left me wanting to not miss out on the other unexplored gems. Tahir obliged and took me to the next stop on our gastronomical journey; Ram Babu Paranthe Waale, in Sikandra on NH-2. This place has been serving its flavours, both old and new, drenched in Ghee for the past 87 years. From old favourites such as potato and mix-veg paranthas, to crowd pullers like maggi and chocolate, and bizarre ones like pomegranate and apples, their menu has several varieties of stuffing for you pick from and surprise your taste-buds.

 

Ram Babu Parantha
Ram Babu Parantha

We decided to get out hands on a classic mix-veg parantha, penne pasta parantha, and the Maggi parantha. Be prepared to throw your diets in the backseat while visiting this place, since each of these paranthas is fried in a thick pan, drenched in around a hundred grams of ghee and served with aaloo-matar sabzi (potato and green pea curry), some kadhi, pumpkin dish, some tamarind chutney, and pickle.

We first tried the Maggi parantha, which is especially popular among the young customers. The stuffing had green-peas, chopped carrots, and some extra masalas to amp up the heat. It was spicy and got us excited to move on to our mix-veg parantha. This was stuffed with green-peas, carrots, onions, and potatoes. The preparation was so crisp that we could hear it crackle as we dug into it.

Last came our penne pasta stuffed parantha. The pasta was tossed in desi masalas and topped with some cream. The fried pie-like result was then generously coated with grated cheese making it taste like nothing short of a pizza with a north-Indian twist.

This 87-year-old restaurant displays a perfect picture of the long way that the Indian food-culture, has come with 32 kinds of paranthas in its menu. They plan to add 36 more varieties and keep the menu ever-evolving.

Our adventures continued as we reached a neat and unconventionally fancy, lit up Chai Tapri serving Tandoori Chai. The chai is served in Kulhad, a clay utensil, often used to serve drinks in. The Kulhads are heated up over coals in a tandoor. Fresh milk-tea is then poured in these glistening-red clay-mugs, making the Chai boil and bubble up; and taking in the distinct, earthen smell and aroma of the mud. The chai, perhaps a bit-sweet to please the taste of the locals, has a nice flavour of cardamom and ginger.

Agra sent my way a wave of unexpected innovation while still keeping the essence of the original, making me wonder what more the city has to offer.

 

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Imperial Spice, Connaught Place

Connaught Place has a rare privilege of having it all – locational, political and cultural advantages. These advantages lend themselves well to the circular market being a hot spot for attracting food and people from across the city, country and world. Imperial Spice is a fun new entrant to this historic market with its eclectic menu, warm lighting and obliging staff.

We started our meal with an amuse bouche – a tiny Masala Papad cone, which served its purpose of appetising us for the meal ahead. This was followed up by their signature starter – Black Stone Chaat – a platter of tangy and delicious preparations including Palak Patta Chaat, Chukandari Chenna Bhalla and Aaloo Chana.

Next came the Imperial Gin Chicken and the Twice Cooked Duck Spring Rolls. Being a proponent of duck and spring rolls separately, I had never had them together. They were juicy with a sweet tinge on the inside. The dish went well with the chicken which was spicy and soft.

Our mains included Spaghetti Alfredo with Grilled Chicken and Broccoli and the Pan Seared Norwegian Salmon Served with Pepperonata And Olive Caper Buerre Blanc. The Norwegian salmon was pink and buttery, complemented well by the veggies.

One of the more fascinating dishes on the menu was the Lehsun ki Kheer. It takes a fair amount of courage to try something so out of the ordinary as garlic in a sweet preparation. But it somehow worked. With a sprinkling of dry fruits, it would be perfect. Other such different pairings of sweet treats in the menu would be worth giving a shot in the future.

 

Cost for Two: Rs. 2,200 (without alcohol)

Location: M Block, Connaught Place, New Delhi

 

 

Anjora cannot resist a good prawn preparation, finds home in Chinese food anywhere in the world but will eat almost anything if it looks appealing. She is a Potter head and has recently discovered pottery as a hobby (excuse the pun).
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U Like Roll Corner : A Tale of Rolls

Long ago in the year 1996 there lived a humble man namely Mr. Jamil Akhtar, who had a sense that something is missing from the northern region of the foodie capital city. Soon he realised that no eatery around this area sold rolls (a small piece of bread that is rolled around a stuffing ). He took this matter into his hands and inaugurated his very own ‘U-Like Roll Corner ‘ in a small street in the Kamla Nagar market,North Delhi which served a vast variety of rolls ranging from different varieties in both vegetarian and non vegetarian options.

The taste of his tidbits along with the thinnest covering of roti and lots and lots of filling coordinated with a perfect blend of various sauces which drips through your lips while you take a bite of the mouthwatering rolls was what attracted the most crowd to hog into this world of rolls which is still consistent. Whoever visits this place never fails to notice the technique which Mr. Jamil uses to make his rolls, the dedication, the skills , the fluency he showcases while preparing his masterpiece is remarkable!

The stall opens in the afternoon around three and closes till eleven in the night with most of its rush hour being around the nighttime. Pure desi ghee is used in preparing the rolls in the perfect quantity so that the rolls doesn’t turn out to be greasy. As soon as the stall opens the rolls especially the non vegetarian ones sell out like hot cakes.The nonveg specialty items include spicy chicken roll , cheesy chicken roll , egg rolls and various other combinations. The prices of these ranges from rupees 25 to maximum of rupees 90.

The tale of rolls which began in 1996 still satiates your hungry taste buds with the crispy and juicy rolls which will continue its era happily ever after.

Name: U-Like Roll Center

Address: Kamla Nagar Market, Beside Keventer’s

Owner’s Name  : Jamil Akhtar

Contact number: 8800376692

 

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Bun Tikki Wale Bhaiya : IPCW ki shaan

Indraprastha College for Women in one of the oldest college of Delhi University situated in the North Campus near the Civil Lines metro station. With  quite a beautiful campus and very welcoming ambience, there is another thing about this college which is the usual ‘ talk of the town ‘ that is the ‘Bun Tikki‘ stall that resides just outside the college gate in a small corner with the most concentration of people. The traces of this stall goes back to  the post independence era around the 1950’s . The current owner of this stall Mr. Ram Dev  proudly claims this stall to be even older than half a century and how this tradition is carried on from his father to him and how it will be carried on to to the next generation very soon.

The stall opens early in the morning around 9:00 am  and serves its delicacies till 4 in the evening. The menu is not very vast but it shows perfectly what this eatery specializes in. The menu includes the most talked about ‘Bun Tikki‘ along with other tidbits such as aloo chaat , chole kulche , bhel puri , papdi chaat and kulcha roll which is perfectly complimented by a popular go-to of each and every Dilliwala known as Bunta which is perfect to quench your thirst along with the sweet and spicy bites this small eatery serves.

This place experiences the most rush during the break time in the afternoon when all the hungry peeps including the students of the college and even the teacher staff are in a search for something delicious to fulfil their hungry tummies and the rush is sometimes even more than that of the college canteen itself . The hot piping tikki  sandwiched between the perfectly buttered buns along with the tangy sweet chutney and a perfect seasoning of various spices makes it just irresistible as it sounds. Another most loved dish here is the aaloo chaat which is made from perfectly shallow fried potato cubes seasoned with the spice mix and topped with the spicy green chutney which we can customize according to our preferences by consulting our very own taste buds.

Mr. Ram Dev is very particular about the hygiene of the stall and keeps it as clean as possible, he particularly mentions about how he uses the fresh ingredients  to make these mouth watering snacks. What makes this eatery even better is the price of the items, none of them are above a range of Rupees 30 . Such flavoursome and zestful snacks at such low costs with maintained hygiene ! What else do we need ?

Address : Beside the main gate of IPCW, Civil Lines

Owner’s Name : Ram Dev

Contact no. : 9319533687

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Sudama Ji Ki Tea Stall : One stop for all the chai lovers

Feeling cold ? have chai (tea) . Want to have a important conversation ? Meet up at chai. After all , who says chai cannot be the solution to your every problem. Chai is the most loved beverage among India and the love indeed doubles when it comes to Delhiites. One such place which was established around 30 years ago by a very humble man popularly known as ‘Sudama ji ‘ by his fellow customers , is “Sudama ji ki Tea Stall” which is located right on the main road from Kirori Mal College to Ramjas College. At any mentioned time of the day you will see people flooded on this tea stall, there doesn’t exist a single person in the North Campus who doesn’t know about this stall. Once you name it and people will tell you the exact spot where it is located at. Sudama ji serves his special tea at as low as Rupees 10. You can taste the flavor of ginger, cinnamon and cardamom in the masala chai  he offers.

The best time to visit this place is the late evening hours especially during the winter nights, you will see every person including the cops patrolling around the area  to the students living in the campus to the staff and even the fellow rickshaw and auto drivers breeding around the stall waiting for their chance to get a glass full of the ‘most talked about ‘ chai  of the campus. This stall stays open until late night with never ending rush for chai which can always be seen boiling down in big vessels by Sudama ji with a lot of passion to make his chai perfect for his customers.

You can also have some rusks , biscuits to accompany the perfect cup of tea even to make it more perfect. While crossing through the university you will always listen people mentioning this tea stall and especially students quoting it very often. So, if you are on a search of a perfect cup of ‘garma garam chai’  along with a swarm of people who are equally passionate and  in love with chai as you are or else need a perfect kick start to your day or want a much needed break then surely this is the place you are searching for.

Name : Sudama ji ki tea stall

Owner’s name : Sudama ji

Address: On the main road between KMC and Ramjas

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Labib’s : The crowded nukkad

Roaming around north campus with a hungry tummy and confused state of mind ?  In this situation enter the very famous   “ Chatori lane” which is a small street in Kamla Nagar beside Mc Donald’s in which you will capture the sight of food in every direction you look at. This street ends with a very famous nukkad food joint  known as “ Labib’s”, it can be seen from quite a distance that this place is very crowded all the time. The first thing any person who visits this place observes is a very long menu with numerous options ranging from various kinds of shakes, rolls and sandwiches etc. This place serves both vegetarian and non vegetarian delicacies.

It is very famous among the college students due to the pocket friendly menu, who can be seen mushrooming on the stairs nearby this joint with the amazing food this place serves. This place is famous for its shakes, black forest shake is a must try and even they serve the best ice mocha. You can even have the rolls including the shawarma roll and the double egg roll. They also  have a best seller called the “chicken chatkara sandwich” which is as delicious as it sounds. This shop generally opens around 12 pm and closes late around 10 pm with its rush hour being mainly in the evening.

They offer their food accompanied with great dips such as the cheesy dip and if you are new to this place they offer your first mayonnaise dip for free. Even the service is quick and the owner is very friendly too. So, if you are looking for somewhere great to eat with numerous options and pocket friendly budget, this place is exactly what you are searching for. So, don’t forget to  visit this place and grab a lip smacking  snack along with a gulp of thick and cold shake and have a very happy meal and leave this place with a satisfactory grin and eagerness to visit it again.

Name: Labib’s

Address : UB-101, Chatori Lane , Kamla Nagar

Contact number : +91999432924