Crispy hot samosas, spicy kachauris, melt-in-the-mouth gulab jamuns... Delhi's famous street food is high on the menu for visitors to the 2010 Commonwealth Games. And it's about to be laid out in hot and cold carts, with an official stamp of hygiene.
How is Delhi preparing for the Games gourmet? Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta has a plan. He says a variety of snacks stored in cases will make the street food attractive for visitors.
“India, and especially Delhi, has an amazing range of street food that no one can resist. For the Games we plan to have pre-cooked food stored in clean, hot and cold cases in a hygienic condition,” Mehta told IANS.
Those gorging on street food here usually give concerns for cleanliness a miss, but the Delhi government is gearing up to make these snacks its USP with hygiene high on its mind.
“The only glitch is that the food is pre-cooked, so I am not very sure about items like golgappas. However, other things like hot gulab jamuns, kachauris and samosas will all be there to scoop up,” he added.
With the countdown for the Games having begun, the food menu is being finalised, taking into account the requirements of athletes from various continents.
The 8,000 athletes who would be staying at the Commonwealth Games Village will have a wide range of cuisine to choose from during the 12-day-long sporting event that will kick off Oct 3.
According to Commonwealth Games Organising Committee officials, the 71 Commonwealth countries will be divided into six zones. Each zone will have their own distinctive cuisine like European, Caribbean, Asian, South Asian, African and American, and every meal would have cuisine from these zones.
Authorities here nevertheless want to showcase Indian food, street fare being high on the menu.
According to Mehta, the Delhi government is talking to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to give licenses to vendors for these carts and take responsibility for monitoring hygiene standards.
Delhi Mayor Kanwar Sain said the health department of the MCD has chalked out clear guidelines on the basis of which the safety standards of food in the carts will be maintained.
"There will be mobile squads of health officials who will inspect these carts on a regular basis so that safety standards are maintained. While we want to showcase the variety of our food fare to the rest of the world, we don't want any compromises on the hygiene factor," Sain told IANS.
Mehta has a clear vision: “As of now, 1,000 carts are ready for all those vendors who will have licenses to run these cold carts. Not only will they have to make sure that the food is tasty but also that the surroundings are clean.”
While the number of applications received have been in hundreds, those eligible for the licenses have been listed on the basis of a draw. The carts will be spread across the city and the areas will be earmarked.