The word festival itself brings a lot of cheer. Add food to it and you will get the undivided attention of gourmets as well as gourmands. The three-day National Street Food Festival here, with an impressive 127 street food stalls, was a delight for the food lovers.
When I reached Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on the first day i.e Friday, I didn't know where to start. There were so many inviting dishes on display.
While one Punjab stall offered irresistible butter chicken with naan, the other one from Chandigarh neatly placed makke ki roti with sarson ka saag on the counter.
Then there were khakras and theplas from Gujarat. Pakodas options were aplenty and so were biryanis.
Organised by National Association of Street Vendors of India, the third edition of the food festival surely had something for everybody -- those with a sweet tooth or devout fans of veggies or who have weakness for chicken or people who relish fish only when someone from down south or east prepares the dish.
The list is an exhaustive one for sure.
The concept of bringing food items from different parts of the country under one roof is not something unheard of. Think Dilli Haat. But the dishes laid out by vendors from 19 states can't go unnoticed. Not because of the rich traditional flavours, but also due to the pricing. Some of them were as low as Rs.20 per plate.
The non-vegetarian dishes that were served as thalis or kebab plates were a tad above Rs.100.
The nip in the air and pakodas in sight instantly made me step towards the West Bengal stall, which offered egg, cauliflower, tomato and capsicum pakodas. I started with egg pakoda and it cost me just Rs.30 a plate. The fried snack had a crispy cover. Stuffed with a boiled egg and mashed potatoes, it was spicy and yummy.
My next stop was the Bihar counter and their famous litti-chokha was tempting. Litti, made with wheat flour and 'sattu' stuffing, was served with semi-dry mixture of vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes and green chilies. Cooked in mustard oil, the vegetables further lent a traditional touch to the dish.
The Lucknow stall was my next stop and I couldn't resist ordering Mughlai biryani as the aroma was overpowering. Once the plate was placed in my hands, I treated my taste buds with a spoonful of the dish made with basmati rice with chicken pieces, cashew nuts and khoya. The vendor told me the "actual term" for the dish is 'mutanjan'. He changed the name to make it easy for the masses to understand.
Then Delhi's momos stall caught my attention.
I indulged in both the veg and chicken momos. The size of the dumplings was good enough and filling too. The combination of vegetables like cabbage, onion and carrot with ginger paste made the hot momos perfect for the chilly weather. The chicken version was delicious too.
Cooked well, the meat was tender. The hot red chili sauce made the steamed dough dish an ideal way to end my food journey.