I love street food, be it vada pav, ragra patties, bhel puri or my favourite pani puri or puchka as we call it. These are fares you get everywhere in India, but there is another street food that I love to gorge on, something unique to the hills, Alu -Chura , which literally means potato and beaten rice.
Having travelled extensively across India and tried every kind of street food I can correctly claim that alu chura is unique to the hills and by hills I mean Sikkim, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and surrounding areas.
The amazing thing about alu-chura is that all the vendors are migrants from Bihar, I talked to a few of them trying to unearth how they came about selling something that is not found in their own place. The standard answer I got was that they were just continuing a business started by their father. I will have to keep on looking for an older alu-chura wala to get the answer to my questions.
When we were kids my mum used to try and make alu-chura for us at home and every time we ended up complaining that it was not as good as the one we eat from the vendor. My mum’s standard answer would be because she cooks in a hygienic environment she cannot match the sweat and dirt that goes into the alu-chura made by the bhayas. After few years, once she realized that no matter how tasty she makes it we will never stop eating it from the vendor, she gave up making it at home.
If you are in Gangtok and want to try alu-chura, just go to Lal Bazar and ask the vegetable vendors where the alu-chura wala’s are. They have their stalls right in the middle of the area. Generally, you will find a crowd near their stalls, busy eating. A plate of alu-chura served on a disposable plate and garnished with onions and rock salt will cost you Rs. 10/-.
Enjoy this unique product of Sikkim and let me know if you like it or not.