When you go out for a walk at night on the streets of Kochi, as you near the Old Fort harbour front, you’ll find a wonderful assortment of street food vendors. Known as wallahs or workers in India, they usually do one thing and they do it very well. This is definitely the case for these Chilli Salted Cassava Fries.
We met the young wallah, Shivalingam, responsible for them on our research trip in 2016. As we stood watching, he took tender young cassava roots and sliced them paper thin onto a makeshift wooden counter at the side of his small cart. A light bulb glared its starkness down over him and allowed him not to cut off his fingers while he sliced.
He then patted the slices dry and slid them gently into a waiting wok of sunflower oil. While they turned golden, he slit open a paper bag to act as a receptacle for their exit from the pan. Once they were all out, he shook the perfect amount of salt and chilli powder over them and scooped them into newspaper cones for us.
We couldn’t wait to get back to our hotel. We began munching those Chilli Salted Cassava Fries immediately. And, we still had some left when we ordered a couple of mugs of beer back at our hotel’s lounge. What a perfect end to a tropical evening’s walk. That’s the delight of street food. It always seems to be exactly what you’re craving – whether you knew it or not. And, it leaves an indelible taste memory that makes you crave it eternally.