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April 17, 2005

Choosing the Street

Delhi- Clustering their services in one Connaught Place kiosk are four paan salesmen, each selling a different recipe of this perfumed and intoxicating digestive leaf from the kiosk's cardinal points.

One very interesting thing we learned from two of the Nomadic Banquet participants, John Vijay Abraham and Sanjeev Shankar's street food research at the IIT Bombay, is that street food vending is not always a step on the path to restaurantdom. A case in point, they stated is Muchhad Paanwallah, a paan kiosk in Mumbai named after an impressive ear to ear mustache of the current owner's father. Jaishankar Tiwari has been immensely successful in his street-side paan business, so much so that his and the families of his four sons all live from it. If you can't visit his kiosk in Mumbai it's well worth checking out his website, where you can place orders for paan online.

In the Nomadic Banquet workshop in Delhi, we discovered street food vendors are an integral part of the social fabric of a community and this is likely to be the greatest asset they offer a community. Muchhad Paanwalla is immensely successful and chooses to continue to sell from his kiosk instead of go upmarket like oh so many smart cigar shops. This is important for us to realise as the perception persists that the street is an undesirable place (for a vendor) - as if it could merely be a stepping stone on the road to 'something better'. The success of Muchhad Paanwallah and others like him prove that exactly the opposite is true.

Muchad Paanwallah http://www.paan.com/about.htm

Posted by debra at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)