The sounds and smell of food being prepared on the roadside forms the identity of many cities around the world. Street food is a reflection of a country’s food culture and is often steeped in heritage and stories. Making your own street food recipes is a fantastic way to evoke flavours from around the world, in an instant.
What kind of food is street food?
Street food can take any form, but it is usually quick to cook, cheap to make, and easy to eat (and hold) with just a few mouthfuls. Here are few classic street food dishes from around the world, along with the ingredients you need to make them.
5 street food ideas from around the world1. Mexico has a huge history of incredible street food, with many recipes based around maize flour and corn: think tacos, gorditas (stuffed dumpling-style maize flour parcels), elotes (grilled sweetcorn in creamy chilli sauce with cheese), tamales (below), and crispy tostadas topped with fresh avocado, beans and cheese.
Recipe: How to make Mexican tamales
These steamed and wrapped tamales are filled with shredded beef, lamb or pork and flavoured with chilli, garlic and cumin. Cook them in a large steamer all together, then present at the table with a flourish.
This maize flour is made with an ancient variety of corn that has a distinctive blue colour. The kernels are soaked in lime water before they are ground, which gives the flour its flavour. It makes a darker dusky-blue coloured tamale dough.
Find vendors with great tubs of spices and cooked chickpeas in cities across India, mixing their signature chana masala blends. Often served in little foil bowls with a fork, and best enjoyed straight out of the pan.
A wonderful mix of spices and salt, with a strong sharp sweet flavour from dried mango powder – use chat masala to flavour chana masala chickpeas, aloo chaat, or homemade samosa filling.
Recipe: How to make arepas
These grilled cornflour buns are a simple mix of Harina Pan flour and water, simply made into a dough and rolled into small discs. Cook in a hot pan until golden brown, then stuff with your favourite filling.
Use Harina Pan to make arepas with a truly authentic texture and flavour. This is the most famous brand of maize flour in Venezuela, and can also be used to make empanadas – parcels of cornbread filled with spicy beef.
Recipe: How to make Japanese okonomiyaki
Literally meaning ‘as you like it’, okonomiyaki pancakes can be topped with any ingredient you like. The classic combination is spring onion, a criss-cross of Japanese mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce and bonito flakes.
A sweet-savoury sauce, with similar intensity to Worcestershire sauce. It’s a staple with okonomiyaki pancakes, but is often also served with takoyaki balls and is also fantastic with pork belly dishes.
Often these smoky grilled sticks of octopus are rolled in a huge vat of bonito flakes, then drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce and vinegared Gochujang.
The addition of vinegar in the classic Korean hot chilli sauce creates a condiment with even more tang. It also loosens the sauce, and makes it slightly easier to pour.
For more global recipes, read our guide to the best noodle recipes from around the world or shop ingredients and food by cuisine.