No matter what hygienists feel about street foods, they are here to stay for good and in spite of dire warnings of food poisoning, consumers flock to such vendors for the tasty treats they offer at very reasonable prices. Many attempts have been, and continued to be made by the government as well as well meaning NGOs to reform this sector without much of an impact. It is against such a background that real estate developers are seeing an opportunity in building high class eating complexes with all modern hygiene and sanitation amenities. The recent launch of DLF's Food Chowk in Delhi attempts to do precisely this through their investment in such a venture. It is a tribute to their far sight that many well known restaurants are setting up shops there to serve foods in an environment to tally different from that exists in their star hotels. Probably the expectation is that customers will be able to get most of the ethnic and other food preparations similar to those available with road side vendors but with a better quality and assured safety.
"The most sought after street food vends and regional cuisines - both from the old walled quarters and busy new bazaars of the metropolis - have for the first time come under one roof at their spiffy new address in south Delhi. The brand new Food Chowk is spread across 18,500 square feet at the DLF Mall in Saket. At the customer's service is the Prince Paan - the popular betel kiosk from Greater Kailash - and King's Kulfi from the Laxminagar market with their state-of-the-art interactive kitchen counters and smartly attired crew to cater to individual demands. Jostling for attention at a stone's throw lies Karim's - the capital's oldest and perhaps the best Muslim eatery from Jama Masjid, if the number of awards are anything to go by. Diagonally positioned is Nizam's, followed by the south Indian Sagar Ratna, Hyderabadi's and Maharashtra Food from Dilli Haat; Kathi's from Saket, Sabras from Jasola and Depaul's from Connaught Place. A Indian-Chinese vend Chowamee, an all-India chaat (mix fruits and vegetables) counter, Salad Chef, a salad bar from Vasant Vihar, a 'parantha' (Indian fried bread) enclosure from Chandni Chowk's Paranthe Wali Gaali - the old capital's official bread street - and Bijoli Grill from Kolkata adds to the funky nature of the spread. "Moti Mahal, Nirula, Rajdhani and Nathu's will soon join the gang with their Indian platters, sweetmeats and ice-creams," said Arindam Kumar, vice-president (mall management) of DLF, pointing to empty enclosures which will begin operations next week. The Food Chowk currently has 27 food stalls spread across 32 kiosk spaces".
The foods come with stiff price tags and the clientele profile may be some what different compared to the popular, low cost street vending system. At Rs 250 per person for a reasonable treat, many middle class families may find it difficult to patronize the food out lets in the DLF Food Chowk. How ever the concept involved in Food Chowk system is worth translating into several such projects in many metros under the aegis of the local civic administration and such common man's Food Chowks offering food at reasonable rates will be a boon to the teeming populations that live there.