Informal roadside food stalls are a popular eating spot for everyone in Raipur, Chhattisgarh.
“I want to show that in food, there is unity in diversity,” said Sarwat. “People from all walks of life come to eat at Chowpathi and Gandhi Chowk. It doesn’t matter how much money they have, everyone comes and everyone eats. They enjoy it.”
The word “Chhattisgarh” literally means 36 forts, and they have a saying there that goes: “If Chhattisgarh is not known for its 36 forts, then it is definitely be known for its 56 types of cuisine.” At these food stalls, one can get everything from Chinese chowmein to South Indian dosas and idlis. The variety, quality and price is what makes them so popular – Sarwat says that one can get a plate of ‘bhel puri’ for just Rs.5. “I go with my family at least once a week. My children like eating the Chinese food there,” Sarwat told us.
“But the vendors want to have proper permanent shops. Now they have to set up their stalls and take them down at the end of the day. They don’t have very hygienic ways of making their food. People rarely get sick. But others don’t like standing on the side of the road and eating. If they had proper buildings, more people would come and eat here.” Sarwat hopes that some day this unofficial ‘food court’ will be transformed into a stable structured space, which would lend an element of permanency to the vendors’ business, and comfort to their customers.