This week, more than celebrities leaving for the airport in their Balenciaga-clad looks, the Instagram algorithm threw at me videos of Indian street foods that I wasn't prepared for. Buttery Maggi painted pink with rose sherbet; masala dosa, complete with palya being squished into an ice cream, which later becomes an ice cream roll; bouncy momos smashed in a similar way, rolled again into an icecream… Looks like the formula for driving engagement on social media is being governed by the logic of taking two items that do not go well together, and plating them up. We did that with Maggi, turning it into a milkshake and the result was pleasant. So, I am convinced it's the kind of content people are interested in watching.
While that is good for the numbers, where is this taking Indian street food? At par with the streets of Thailand, Spain, Turkey, India too has a thriving street food scene that is hard to miss, no matter which city you are in. And while old icons—like Elco Pani Puri in Mumbai or the soda shikanji in Shibuji, Kolkata—take pride in turning their roadside kiosks into brick and mortar shops, there are those like the masala dosa ice cream and Roohafza Maggi vendors, for whom innovation and optics supersede taste and classic understanding of Indian cuisine. Then, the real question is not who is eating this stuff, but this: if a chef at a popular Indian restaurant is allowed to mix and match two unlikely things (toast and dhokla, pasta and chutney, potato and churros) why not the average Joe on the street?
In our kitchen, innovations we made this week included a vegan French toast. We turned the classic breakfast favourite—made with bananas, coconut milk and strawberries—into a vegan option by removing the eggs and dairy. Plus, it's a really clever way of using up the freshest strawbs of the season.
There's also the thakkali rasam vadai, which we reimagined as shots along with guest chef Kalpana Mudliar. But the one snack that has been on my mind since our back kitchen put it together, is the tangy, spicy Kurkure chaat, which I suspect will find an audience even IRL.
Also on the menu is a recipe that gives your regular leftover chapati a makeover, all thanks to a Mexican twist. And with that, I sign off for January to see you straight in the month of love.
Sonal Ved is the editor at IFN. She is also an author of an award-winning cookbook called Tiffin. She travelled through the first five tastes to be able to tell between a brie and provolone dolce. She can make stellar undhiyu and a green smoothie.