Street Food: Global Flavors, Universal Appeal

Jambalaya Pita with Minor’s® Roasted Garlic Dipping Sauce

By STAFF | MobileFoodNews.com

Jambalaya Pita with Minor’s® Roasted Garlic Dipping Sauce

Many of the most popular street foods take the form of sandwiches, rolls, skewers, stuffed pies, dumplings, and other easy-to-eat handhelds, along with specialties like noodles and noodle soups, pancakes, and flatbreads. Apart from the more familiar hot dogs, ice cream cones, and tacos we all know and love, consider there are many other enticing options.

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India

Indian street food revolves around the chaat, a snack made from fried or griddled dough with various fillings and/or condiments. Some of the most popular chaat include dumplings, fritters, turnovers, patties, and bread. Many of them are vegetarian.

  • Idli are patties made from lentil and rice batter, poured into a mold and steamed, then served with condiments like chutney and sambar (red lentils cooked with tamarind, coriander, chiles, and other seasonings)
  • Dosas are made with seasoned, fermented rice and lentil batter, spread out into a pan and cooked until they are crisp but still pliable. The dosa can be served as-is, cooked with other ingredients like onions and chiles, or rolled around a filling. Uttapam is the same as a dosa, except that it is served open-faced
  • Pakora and samosa are two of the more well-known Indian-style finger foods. The chickpea-flour fritters known as pakora can be filled with vegetables like cauliflower, onions, eggplant, spinach, fresh cheese, or lentils, as well as chicken. Samosas are similar, except the fillings are stuffed into little turnovers and then fried, and more often include minced meat or fish

TRY THIS: Indian Naan Bread is the perfect vehicle for chutneys, stews, and other dippable items.

Mexico

The most iconic Mexican street foods are antojitos, or corn-based snacks in all their diversity. The great beauty of many of these Mexican-style street foods is that they are nearly infinitely adaptable to mix-and-match fillings and toppings, so it’s easy to turn a taco program into a chalupa or gordita offering.

  • Chalupas (a “little boat” of tortilla dough that’s fried or griddled, then filled)
  • Gorditas (also known as sopes, these “little fat ones” of thick corn dough are griddled and split like a pita, then filled with beans, shredded meat and cheese, and fresh salad vegetables)
  • Quesadillas (corn tortillas stacked and layered or folded around cheese, beans, meat, and other fillings, which are then griddled, fried, or baked until the fillings are hot and the cheese melts)
  • Tamales (masa corn dough wrapped in a dried corn husk around some sort of a filling, which is layered in a pot and steamed)
  • Taquitos (“little tacos,” a small tortilla rolled cigar-style around a filling and then fried until crisp
  • Tortas are Mexico’s answer to the sandwich. Like many worldly sandwiches, the torta’s character depends a lot on the bread—in this case an oblong crusty white sandwich roll called a telera or bolillo. Tortas can be served hot or cold, and filled with everything from marinated pork or carne asada, chorizo, and cheese, to fried fish, shredded beef, grilled chicken breast, scrambled eggs, and sausages.

TRY THIS: Shredded beef, chili, avocado, and condiments on a crunchy baguette create a hearty Mexican-style Beef Torta.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is known throughout the world for its vibrant street food culture. Though the Vietnamese noodle soup known as pho has achieved cult-favorite popularity with Asian-food-loving college students, several other specialties from this region are worthy of consideration, including satays, banh xeo, and other pancakes, Hainanese chicken rice and hawker-style rice noodles. Based on a Chinese model, these world-famous noodles are stir-fried with Indonesian sweet soy sauce, lots of garlic and hot peppers, sesame oil, and other condiments, garnished with chicken or shrimp and loads of fresh vegetables.

  • Banh xeo are Vietnamese-style crepes, made with a delicate rice flour batter seasoned with turmeric and coconut milk, pan-fried to create a savory pancake filled with roasted pork, shrimp, scallions and bean sprouts, and presented with lettuce leaves for wrapping. There are also sheaves of fresh mint and cilantro, and nuoc mam fish sauce blended with lime, garlic, and chiles for dipping
  • In Singapore and Malaysia, roti is a type of pancake made with a flavorful fat like ghee (clarified butter) mixed with egg, flour and water, then kneaded and allowed to rise at least twice so that it is very fluffy inside, and crispy on the outside. Originally used like a utensil to scoop up curry and other sauced dishes, roti has evolved into a vehicle for all kinds of other ingredients, such as cheese, garlic, chocolate, and even banana
  • Satays are long thin slices of meat on bamboo skewers grilled over wood or charcoal, served with a spicy condiment such as peanut sauce

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