Indian street food is the source of the latest inspiration for Wixon Innovates – the company’s trendspotting product development initiative. Nearly 40% of Americans are interested in trying international street foods, according to Mintel. And India, one of the most populous places in the world, has a bustling street food scene woven throughout its vast countryside. The streets of New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are particularly fertile grounds for sampling varied roadside foods – especially savory snacks known as chaat. An omnipresent street food, chaat comes in several formats, all with the commonality of crunchy texture and sweet, salty, sour, spicy flavor profiles.
“Our focus on chaat grew out of a couple of parallel trends impacting the U.S. food scene,” says Wixon Marketing Manager, Becca Henrickson. “There’s the obvious snacking trend – which just continues to grow and evolve – and the steadily increasing interest in Indian flavors among consumers over the past three years. The flavor inspiration we found in chaat melds with these trends along with the consumer desire for authentic, ethnic flavors.”
Distinctive spice and herb combinations give Indian cuisine its exotic aroma and flavor, and are ultimately what make chaat so craveable. Indigenous flavoring ingredients, as well as those borrowed from neighboring countries/cuisines are part of the vast taste palette that infuses chaat. While chaat is flavored with dry spice mixtures, many are also accompanied by local condiments, which are sprinkled, drizzled or poured over the snacks.
Key Indian Street Food flavors /condiments
- Black Salt: a pinkish/gray rock salt with a tangy, sulfur-like taste
- Cardamom: green cardamom is herbal and citrusy sweet, black cardamom has a stronger, nutty flavor
- Chilies: several types of chilies native to the area add a spicy kick to masalas
- Cilantro: fresh cilantro or coriander (cilantro seeds) provide a bright, earthy taste
- Mango: a stone fruit with a creamy, floral, sweet taste
- Mint: leafy herb with refreshing flavor with spiced notes
- Nutmeg: ground seeds with a warm, nutty and sweet taste
- Tamarind: tree fruit that elicits a sweet and sour, sometimes tart flavor
- Turmeric: dried root known for its bright yellow color and musky, bitter taste
- Masalas: complex spice blends to season or top chaat
- Chutneys: made from a combination of fruit, herbs and vegetables into a jam-like consistency that complement chaat
- Raitas: yogurt-based sauce, added as a cooling counterpart to elevated heat levels common in street foods
Explaining the culinary attraction of Indian street foods, Wixon Corporate Chef Ryan Kukuruzovic says, “while exploring the myriad flavor combinations, we found their craveablilty was due not only to the spice combinations, but also to their sensory appeal. The crunchiness together with the distinctive flavors is what truly makes them so craveable. Interestingly, while most Indian street foods are savory, we used the taste combinations to develop unique sweet snack applications as well. One of my favorites is Ghee Caramel Cashews.”
For more information, visit www.wixon.com.