Business on Avenue Road is carried out like nowhere else in the city. From handing out free samples to bursting into song, the cart vendors form an interesting bunch that relies on a mix of new techniques and old school tricks to attract customers. They’re always on the move and are up for a good bargain. But fanfare or not, it’s the carts selling simple snacks that always draw glances from passersby.
Brothers Junaid and Javed, who came to the city a couple of years ago from Mumbai, bring their expertise in baking rusks to the old city’s streets. At Rs. 120 a kilo, their rusks, stacked in pyramids, are thick and crisp despite being exposed to the elements.
The duo says their goods run out in six or seven hours, particularly during evenings, when the office crowd is on its way home. These brothers trade mild insults and poke fun at each other’s expense to draw in more customers and keep them engaged.
Among the various vendors selling snacks in the area, you’ll find Praveen selling tapioca chips from his father’s cart. He also sells what he (and many others) calls ‘tomato chips’ although they bear no resemblance to tomatoes, nor are tomatoes included in the fried batter from which they’re made.
Both items, though deep fried, aren’t oily at all — the slices of tapioca absorb little oil while cooking, and the so-called tomato chips are extremely light as well.
These snacks are sold by the kilo; however, plenty of it is picked off the cart by freeloaders passing by who “always taste but never buy”.
For many, the tapioca chips may be an acquired taste as they are an unconventionally hard snack made from cassava root, but as Praveen points out, the trick is in cutting the slices as thin as possible before frying, resulting in chips that are more crisp than hard.
The snacks are made interesting with a seasoning of salt, pepper and chilli powder, extra helpings of which are on hand, should the need arise.