As the Bay of Bengal swallows the sun whole, Vizag’s streets are ignited by lampposts and the buzzing MVP Colony gears up for a flamboyant show. The magicians, clad in simple checkered shirts and jeans, draw a ravenous audience that gather to witness a beguiling act. Except, the stage is replaced with a giant iron griddle and the wand with a ladle. The oil hisses and the batter sizzles upon contact with the hot surface. Chopped onions garnish the dosa, and a minute later, the crisp delish is up for grabs.
I patiently await my turn for a taste of the regional grub. My guide exchanges a quick word with the food vendor in Telugu and returns with a plate of aviri kudumu. The urad dal idli—served with piquant peanut and coconut chutneys—resembles a dosa in appearance, but is much fluffier in texture. I tear away one bite after another and they melt like butter in my mouth. If first impressions are telling, then Visakhapatnam’s street food scene knows how to score brownie points.
Come evening, food trucks and stalls ubiquitously pop up in every corner of the city’s centre. Bikers and pedestrians, locals and tourists swarm the stores that dish up crowd favourites: heaps of Mysore bonda, momos, biryani, keema dosa, and “Indianised” versions of Chinese noodles and fried rice. The scene unfolds almost identically every day.
A woman at a tube light-illuminated stall is busy marinating meat pieces with a vermillion spice rub, which with a little help from my guide, I learn, is made of ginger-garlic paste, chilli powder, salt, pepper, egg and a secret masala powder. She then skilfully pokes the chicken and chicken liver chunks with bamboo stick skewers and roasts them over a bed of coal. The embers spark like fireworks as she rotates the kebabs on all sides, until evenly cooked, and then goes on to top them with a generous squeeze of lime.
Read the complete feature in the print edition of National Geographic Traveller India May-June 2022. Get your copy here.
Pooja Naik is Senior Sub-Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She likes to take long leisurely walks with both hands in her pocket; channeling her inner Gil Pender at Marine Drive since Paris is a continent away.