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Indian street food crosses over to the British high street

Menu items aim to recreate the sights, smells and tastes of culinary India

Nabila Pathan

Published: Updated:

With mouth-watering Indian dishes like Thali, Papdi Chaat and Masala Dosa becoming popular menu-items being served by UK food vendors, pop-up outlets and restaurant chains, Indian street food looks set to continue its trend of crossing over to the UK high street in 2016.

Referring to a large spectrum of authentic dishes eaten by Indians every day, Indian Street food varies in regional flavors and tastes. Menu items aim to recreate the sights, smells and tastes of culinary India.

Generally sold on the busy streets of India by portable street holders, Indian street food is famous for its cheap and tasty food items with every Indian city having its own regional take and specialty.

Indian street food has already taken major cities in the UK by storm. Scene Indian Street Kitchen opened in the heart of Manchester's food district, Spinningfields, to rapturous reviews in 2015; offering customers vibrancy and energy of the sub-continent.

Whilst the restaurant chains Indigo and Masala Zone have played a key role in bringing some of India's favorite road-side snacks to a wider audience. Bhel Puri, a popular cold and crunchy dish composed of a sweet-and-sour mix of puffed rice, fried lentils, sev, chopped onion and potato, and tamarind chutney is an unmissable and sought-after dish on most diners orders.

With the recently launched food delivery business called Deliveroo being embraced by many food restaurant chains, the availability Indian Street food to homes and businesses has never been more accessible.

Other favorite street food dishes like Thali and Masala Dosa are widely on offer in London's east end destinations such as Green Street and Easthams's High Street North. Both these locations are predominantly made up of an Asian community who arrived during the migration wave of the 70s. Many of the locals vouch for these dishes to match the authentic tastes that have emerged from South India.

Indian Street Food has already been touted to have a global reach and considered to be one of the "top food trends of 2016" according to the Times of India. The scope for creativity is endless. East-West fusions are a regular trait in many of the offerings available in the UK.

Tanya Gohil, who has recently entered the Indian street food market as a stall holder at Maltby Street Market was recently featured in the London's Evening Standard for her "Mmmmumbai Grill sandwich," which is an Indian take on the grilled club sandwich, consisting of sourdough bread, aubergine and potato curry and spiced cheddar cheese. Her Food stall is so in demand that her food sells out every weekend.

Rashida Raihann, a 33 year-old professional from East London who hosts a dining club in her home, serving up a host of Indian Street snacks on a monthly basis, has observed how the demand for Indian Street food has grown in the past five years: "These dishes are no longer a novelty amongst my guests but considered very much at the heart of British Asian cuisine."

"With housing developments being created next to business and retail districts, I can only imagine that the demand will grow. These food items are here to stay and have become part of our British cultural cuisine."

With many social and party events already adding Indian Street Food to their catering menus and with the combined effects of Indian spices and ingredients being promoted to have health benefits, Indian Street food industry is expanding the scope of Britain's love affair for the Indian curry.