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May , 2017
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Can't get enough of 'Chaat' 01

Tangy Pani puri, spicy Bhel Puri, masaledaar Pav Bhaji, crispy Aloo toast… anybody’s mouth would water hearing this menu! Chaat, the desi counterpart of western junk food like pizzas and burgers seems to have carved a niche for itself at the very top of every youngster’s ‘List of favourite food’. The ‘Chaat Industry’, if one may call it so, is one that remains almost completely unaffected by the recession and is booming like never before! The progress is such that not only is there at least one chaat bhandar in almost every lane or street in the city now, but new chaat bandi’s or stalls also emerge everyday on every street and they still manage to find enough customers! So, what is it abut chaat that makes it such a sensational hit with youngistaan?

Chaat is tasty, easy to find and amazing comfort food. Most importantly, it is easy on the pocket too. What else could one ask for! It is a fabulous option anytime, any place. It is very me!” said Yerremsetty Sandhya, a student of Loyola College. B. Aakruthi Vaishnavi, a student of Sreenidhi Institue of Science and Technology said,  “I think the reason why chaat is so popular is because it is so yummy and tangy. It is ready to eat and you can get it instantly. Chaat can be had even on a full stomach! I love Dahi Puri and the meetha chutney that is added to it. I can eat Pani Puri any time of the day!” she further added,  “The best chaat I ever had was in Chandni Chowk, Delhi.I have many memories attached with chaat as in my school days, my friends and I used to go to this particular bandi opposite the bus stop there and eat Pani Puri for Rs. 2 per plate everyday!”

A man prepares the stall before it opens. Credit:Mystical Vigilante

A man prepares the stall before it opens. Credit:Mystical Vigilante

Apart from the tangy, tongue-tingling taste that chaat offers, there are some other reasons why it strikes a chord with the younger lot.  “Chaat bandi’s serve as an avenue for friends to meet and converse over some snacks. It is cheap and readily available. Chaat is a lifeline for us college students. Whenever we are hungry and running short on time, we can go to the nearest chaat stall and grab a quick bite to keep us going through the day. The best part is that we don’t have to dig deep into our pockets for it!” said Ronny Mukherjee of Guru Nanak Engineering College. He further added,  “I absolutely relish chaat! My day feels incomplete unless I chow down a plate of Bhel puri!”

According to  Kailasa Manisha of Aurora Degree College, the secret of chaat’s success lies in the fact that it has lesser calories when compared to other junk food. “It is spicy but at the same time, it is light too. It has lesser calories than pizzas or burgers and thus, is a relatively healthier option.” She then added,  “The affordable prices have got a lot to do with its popularity. We youngsters are almost always low on cash, therefore, chaat usually comes to our rescue. I feel that Indians are addicted to Pani Puri because it totally suits our taste buds.” For Suman Tatelu of JBIET, it is the easy availability that makes chaat her favourite. ” I love Pani Puri because you don’t have to go far away or to a big place to eat it.” she said.

Lip-smacking Pani Puri! Credit:Mystical Vigilante

Lip-smacking Pani Puri! Credit:Mystical Vigilante

Hungry kya? Chaat kha!!!  Credit:Mystical Vigilante

Hungry kya? Chaat kha!!! Credit:Mystical Vigilante

Keep it coming!  Credit:Mystical Vigilante

Pani Puri... Keep it coming! Credit:Mystical Vigilante

Although chaat rates really high among youngsters when it comes to easily available, affordable and tasty food, it has been constantly criticized for being unhealthy and unhygienic. But, this doesn’t stop chaat connoisseurs from relishing it. As it is said, Khaane waalon ko khaane ka bahaana chaahiye! (People, who want to eat just need an excuse to eat!) Rasamsetty Lavanya of Jyothishmati College of Engineering and Technology said,  “The hygiene level of chaat depends on the place you are eating at. I agree that it doesn’t come under the proper diet plan, but it is amazingly comfortable street food. Whenever I’m hungry, I head to the first chaat bhandar in sight!” Debsuta Roy of Institute of Aeronautical Engineering said,  “Nowadays many chaat stalls are taking precautionary measures for hygiene and are using plastic gloves while making chaat. I love  chaat because you can’t find that taste in any other food and it refreshes my mind.”

Chatpata Ragada chaat in the making! Credit:Mystical Vigilante

Chatpata Ragada chaat in the making! Credit:Mystical Vigilante

Krithika Sundaraman of ILS Law College, Pune thinks the hygiene levels play a role in the taste.  “It is probably the unhygienic conditions of chaat bandi’s that makes the food so tasty. In big hotels or restaurants, where chaat is made with mineral water and is to be eaten with spoons and forks it doesn’t taste that good! Certain things should be had in specific places. It is fun to eat chaat from the roadside bandi!”

However, there are still a few who are not die-hard fans of chaat. Karthika Anagha of St. Francis College said,  “I don’t like chaat. I inherently dislike the taste. I’m a classical singer and I think it is bad for my throat. My first impression about chaat itself was bad as I was down with an upset stomach the first two times I had it. But, I like Pav Bhaji.”

Chaat is evidently a clear winner when it comes to popular fast food among young college-goers. It can be easily said about chaat, ‘No one can eat just one!’

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