14 Global Street Food Recipes You Can Make At Home
Satisfy your wanderlust with international street foods including currywurst, chicken satay, and more
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If you're anything like me, you're missing international travel more than ever right now, and with travel comes street food. Just thinking about the scent of a banana pancake being fried up in a Thai street stall or the juiciness of a carne asada taco from a cart in the Mexican city of Guadalajara sends my mouth watering. But staying put at home for awhile longer doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of the best street food recipes.
From easy Indian chaats to Turkish lahmacun, here are 14 global street foods that you can make in the comfort of your own kitchen. The best part? You don’t have to endure an endless airplane flight to taste them.
England: Fish and Chips
A street food icon in England, fish and chips is a comfort food staple across the U.S. too, as well as in countries like New Zealand and Australia. Still, it’s in England where the combination of fried fish (a culinary technique brought over by Jewish emigrants from the Iberian peninsula), and “chips” (aka fries, which came from either Belgium or France — the verdict is still out), first originated in the late 19th century.
Though beer is the go-to ingredient to make the batter in this recipe extra crispy and delicious, club soda is a good substitute. Any type of whitefish (such as pollock or Atlantic cod) will do, but the chips should be skin-on, 1/2-inch-thick potato strips that are fried until crispy and golden-brown for the perfect British-style texture. Add some homemade Dijon tartar sauce on the side, and don’t forget the malt vinegar.
France: Simple Crepe
While creperies are popular across Europe and North America, they’re almost legendary in France. These paper-thin pancakes first came about in Brittany during the 13th century, and have been a part of the French diet since. You can serve this easy recipe with anything: Nutella and sliced bananas, fresh strawberries and blueberries with a dollop of whipped cream, even with savory fillings like spinach, mushrooms, and Gruyere cheese. For the most uniform shape, the recipe suggests using a dedicated crepe pan to create the vanilla- and brandy-flavored delicacies, though not to worry: Any even-heating skillet will also work.
Germany: Homemade Currywurst
Currywurst is the epitome of German street food, especially in Berlin, where it originated after World War II. Basically, currywurst is bratwurst sausage that’s fried up, cut into bite-sized chunks, and smothered in a tomato-based sauce seasoned with curry powder. Currywurst purists often argue over what makes the perfect sauce: Some swear by ketchup as a base, while others use canned tomato sauce. There are even recipes that use apricot jam and cola. The Kitchen Maus has decided on a mix of ketchup and mild curry powder seasoned with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and onion powder. She then suggests a helping of French fries (or even better, sweet potato fries) for capping off the meal.
Northern India: Sev Puri
Chaats are a popular type of savory street food that first originated in the Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh eons ago. These days you’ll find them throughout the Indian subcontinent, with each region and city having its own unique take on the delicacy. Mumbai is known for its sev puri, a chaat consisting of puri (a type of deep-fried bread or cracker) topped with sev (thin, crispy noodles made from chickpea flour), and typically mashed potatoes, onions, various chutneys, and spices for a textural, taste-bud extravaganza. Sev is available pre-made at Indian specialty stores and online.
This particular recipe calls for a generous sprinkling of ground cumin and chaat masala, as well as both red and green homemade chutneys (recipes included) for extra flavor.
Southern India: Kalan Puri – Mushroom Masala
In Chennai, the capital of southern India’s Tami Nadu state, kalan puri — mushroom masala — dominates the street food scene. But although “mushroom” is a part of its name, this chaat more often utilizes cabbage and cauliflower as its primary ingredients. In fact, some recipes don’t even include mushrooms. However, this one does include mushrooms, chopping them into small pieces before tossing them with a mixture of spices before frying. You then serve the spiced vegetables hot with some diced onions, coriander, and lemon wedges to lift your taste buds to a whole ‘nother level.
Often found at food stalls throughout Palermo, Sicily, panelle (aka chickpea fries) are a fun, bite-sized Italian snack food that’s especially popular with kids. Triangles, squares, rectangles...the shape is really up to you. What’s most important is to cook the mixture of water, chickpea flour, salt, and pepper into a polenta-like consistency, making it thick and creamy. Afterwards allow the panelle to cool and firm, then cut it into your desired shape (or shapes) before pan frying pieces until golden and crispy. Panelle are delicious as an appetizer with a side of marinara as a dipping sauce (they’re gluten-free this way), or stuffed into a roll for a vegetarian sandwich.
Japan: Quick and Easy Takoyaki
One of Japan’s most beloved street foods is takoyaki, ball-shaped snacks of fried batter filled with bits of octopus. They’re a must-try for anyone visiting Osaka, the city where they originated. Takoyaki requires a special cast-iron pan with round molds (to create the shape), but otherwise this Japanese street food recipe is relatively easy to make. After mixing up a batter of flour and dashi stock (for a bit of umami flavor), pour it into the heated pan and add a piece of octopus to each mold. The recipe suggests using a chopstick to turn the balls as they cook, creating an exterior that’s evenly crispy.
Octopus pieces are readily available in Japanese grocery stores, though you can also sub in small pieces of chicken or ham.
Mexico: Mexican Chicken Street Tacos
Mexico is known for its exquisite street food, or antojitos, which translates to “little cravings.” Stalls serving up tamales and elote — sweet corn on the cob smothered in mayonnaise, seasoned with chili powder, and sprinkled with cheese — are found countrywide, as are taco stands that dish out one of the country’s most iconic foods.
For street tacos (typically smaller than those you’ll find in restaurants) that are as simple to make as they are flavorful, simply season some chicken thighs in a spicy blend of seasonings including paprika and cayenne; saute; and then serve atop mini corn tortillas with a mix of onions, cilantro, and jalapeño. Double up the tortillas to make them more durable, and you’ve got a tasty snack (or three) to go!
Morocco: Easy Lamb Kefta
Street food is easy to come by in Morocco’s many cities, from legendary dishes like shawarma (thinly sliced meat marinated in spices), to breakfast sweets like sfenj, a type of doughnut. One Moroccan dish that’s good to try at home is lamb kefta: ground lamb that’s seasoned with spices and fresh herbs, and often skewered or served up in the shape of meatballs. This recipe goes with skewers and cooks them up on a grill pan. A tangy yogurt sauce (recipe included) provides a cool contrast to the spicy heat, and store-bought naan is a welcome accompaniment. There’s also a recipe included for seasoned chickpeas, the ultimate side dish.
It seems you can often find some of Thailand’s best meals at say, a small Chiang Mai food cart or a street stall hidden along a backroad in Bangkok. But if you want to recreate the South Asian experience at home, chicken satay is a must. This delicious snack is available everywhere in Thailand, and combines many of the country's most alluring flavors (think tangy lemongrass, spicy red peppers, and ginger) into a simple-to-prepare dish that can easily be a full meal. The trick here is to cut chicken breasts and/or thighs into bite-sized bits, and then marinade as long as possible before skewering them and grilling. The longer the marinade, the more robust the flavor. Complete the dish with some homemade peanut sauce, served either on the side or drizzled on top.
Turkey: Homemade Turkish Lahmacun
Lahmacun is often called Turkish or Armenian pizza, but it’s more of a flatbread than anything. It’s also one of Istanbul’s most prolific street foods: a thin and crispy crust of baked dough spread with ground lamb, flavored with lemon and rolled up for eating. This recipe provides a simple yeast-free option for the dough, and lean ground beef is an easy substitute for lamb, if you prefer. You can bake lahmacun or pan-fry it. (It's traditionally cooked in a stone oven, but the odds of having one handy likely aren’t in your favor.) Then top it with tomatoes, onion, parsley, and spices for a crunchy and mouthwatering treat.
Spend a day or two in the South American countries of Colombia or Venezuela and you’ll undoubtedly come across arepas, pockets of ground maize (dried corn) dough that are similar to Salvadoran pupusas, except arepas are stuffed with goodies like chicken, beans, and shredded beans after cooking. Venezuelan arepas traditionally feature a more robust filling than those from Colombia, like this recipe by Serious Eats, which packs its arepa with pulled pork, crumbled white cheese (think feta or Mexican cotija), and cilantro. There are instructions here both for preparing the ingredients and for making the arepa corn cakes themselves, resulting in a delicious sandwich-like snack that’s perfect for any time of day.
Baguettes were first introduced to Vietnam during the country’s French colonial era, and by the 1950s, banh mi — a sandwich filled with meat (or meat substitutes) and pickled Vietnamese veggies — was all the rage in Saigon. While the Vietnamese baguette, airy on the inside, crispy on the outside, uses rice flour for a chewier consistency, it can be hard to find in the U.S., so substituting a French baguette in this recipe is quite all right.
One thing you’ll want to pay extra attention to is picking the veggies, in this case a daikon radish, which is somewhat milder than a red radish (though the latter will do), small carrots, and a jalapeño, all thinly sliced and then marinated in a vinegar, sugar, and turmeric spice mixture, preferably overnight. Marinate the extra-firm tofu overnight as well; then, after grilling, place it all together in a mayonnaise-laden baguette, adding a sprinkling of cilantro to taste. Pair it with a glass of dry riesling for an extra-special treat.
USA (New York): Baked Falafel
Although its origins are unequivocally Middle Eastern, falafel is a regular offering among the many food trucks of New York City, which is home to 3.1 million immigrants. These balls of deep-fried goodness, made from a mix of chickpeas and/or fava beans, herbs, and spices, can be baked as well, as this recipe shows. Falafel are vegan, and are often served with tahini sauce for dipping or packed into a pita pocket.
A taste for travel
The world of international street food and fine dining is as close as your kitchen. Treat yourself to more adventures with these additional collections.