Staying healthy on the road is important because the alternative can wreck your trip and end with you in a hospital bed at a beautiful place. If you are in India for the first time, we know that you are equally fascinated and scared at the same time about “Delhi belly” – aka stomach infections.
Indian cuisine is vibrant and it varies a lot by region. North Indian foods are mostly wheat-based whereas in the south it is rice-based. Growing up in India, we have been eating street food since we were toddlers. Whether it’s roadside chai or chat, dosa or roti, you can find an affordable meal or snack just about anywhere, even after the restaurant’s timing. Street food in India is cheap, delicious, and colorful. It tastes so much better than the regular takeaway or sit-down restaurants. That’s because Indian street food is made fresh and with fresh ingredients, right in front of you.
Do as Romans when you are in Rome
Don’t get carried away by the rants of misconceived people, and just try it out yourself. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you don’t get sick when trying street food.
Eating Indian Street Food Without Getting Sick
10 Tips For Not Getting Sick
- Drink purified or RO (Reverse Osmosis) filtered water. We drink RO water at our home too. Never drink water from the taps. However, you can brush or bathe with tap water.
- Roadside food stalls don’t provide spoons. Indians prefer to eat with their hands. Since our hands are likely to pick up germs quite easily, always wash your hands before eating.
- Street foods are spicy and flavourful. Start with the foods that are easy on your stomach eg: idly, dosa, momos, roti, or chat. Once you are used to them, you can try the spicier ones. (Note: You can instruct the amount of spice to be added to your dish).
- Local people do not want to eat bad food either. Avoid street food that nobody else is eating. If a place is crowded, it is popular for a reason – fresh and good. So, it would be safe for you to eat there.
- The cow is considered sacred by Hindus in India. So, you won’t find beef in most parts of the country. Different varieties of vegetarian foods are predominantly found.
- Avoid food stalls that have flies.
- Avoid ice cubes in your drinks because you don’t know from which water it is made. Rather prefer refrigerated or chilled drinks.
- Boiled or cooked foods kill germs. Don’t eat anything that is undercooked or hasn’t been cooked.
- Wash or peel the outer layer of fruits and vegetables that you buy from the street vendors.
- Buy food from restaurants or street vendors who use clean utensils.
These are some of the precautions that reduce your chances of falling sick. Even after this, if you are scared of street foods, you can safely sample most of the street delicacies at popular food joints like Haldirams or Bikanervala.
Must-Try Street Food In India
In India, the flavor that street foods provide is unmatched. Every street has its own famed local vendor, whose delicacies rival the foods served at high-end restaurants. It is very hard to shortlist fifteen street foods among 100+ varieties found in the country. We haven’t tried all of them, but the ones below are our personal favorites that are guaranteed to get you drooling.
- Pav Bhaji and Vadapav
- Pani Puri/ Golgappa
- Dosa and Idli
- Tandoori Chai
- Jalebi and Gulab Jamun
- Jhal Muri/ Bhel Puri
- Bhutta/ Roasted corncob
- Kulfi and Ice Gola
- Chole Bhature/ Puri
- Bhaji, Samosa and Pakora
What To Do If You Get Sick?
Do the same thing that you would do in your hometown. Take rest, take medicine, drink lots of fluids, and consult a doctor if you have to.
Typically for the locals, stomach infections last a day or two. But it lasts longer if you are a foreigner as it takes time for the body to adapt. If you are sick for longer than a couple of days with stomach pain or bad diarrhea, consult a doctor immediately. Indian medical efficacy is of world standard, and the healthcare system can be relied upon, to take care of billions of people. Check the ratings of the clinic or hospitals in Google before you step in.
You can find all the basic medicines at any local pharmacy. It is important to remember that people use different names for the same medicine. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t find the exact product in the pharmacy. Do a Google search for the ingredient in the product you are looking for and get the same replica. So, you need not overload your medicines before you depart.
Street foods are adventurous and even though there is a risk of contracting Delhi Belly, trust us when we say it’s worth it. Do you know of places in India where you get great street food? We would like to know all about your experiences, so be sure to comment on them.
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