If you were to seek out an underlying connector between the seemingly endless Indian masses, chances are your search would alight on street food. Transcending almost all social barriers, street food culture has wormed its way into the hearts and lives of people across the nation and true to form India has taken a universal concept and made it uniquely our own. Be it the ‘Chindian’ fare of the late night reveler or the ability to squash anything into a bun and call it a burger, commonly recognised dishes find a new (if somewhat questionable) lease on life thanks to the innovation of the Indian streets.
Being a primarily Vegetarian nation with a multitude of dietary preferences even within that fold, it was a necessity for larger US-based fast food chains to adapt their menus to the local palate. But this introduction of big ticket brands is a recent addition to an already flourishing sub-trade in Indianised food.
One major player on the West Delhi landscape has always been Kala Burger Wala, an odd institution that most locals have come to cherish. Established in 1990, this vegetarian-only joint is best known for its aloo tikki burger, where the flame grilled potato patty is charred and blackened - which is where the place gets its name. Kala Wala Burgers is one of many across the city, and indeed across India who have taken a typical Western dish and reinvented it as Indian, sometimes to the point where it would be unrecognisable to the untrained eye.
The humble vada pao of course has often been called a potato burger but devotees of the tuberous god know better. So now when it comes to picking that perfect mid-afternoon snack, perhaps spare a thought for your local options, for the people who have spent decades cultivating a western thought to the Indian palate and maybe forgo the big name branding in favour of a homegrown delight like Kala Burger Wala.
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