Recipes for a street food feast

Who needs a festival to taste those delicious market flavours? Here are three ways to cook them up at home

The closest we’ve got to a festival this summer is craning our head towards a tinny laptop speaker, trying to work out which Neil Young B-side Dad picked in the music round of the family Zoom quiz.

But it’s time to put all that behind us, hit refresh and feel truly invigorated – and what better way than by recreating a festival atmosphere in our back garden? We’ve got three recipes from heroes of London’s street food scene, bursting with bold and adventurous flavours, to help you do just that.

The selection of fun and easy-to-share recipes includes sesame-crusted tofu summer rolls, pork carnitas tacos, and an Indian street corner classic, spicy water bombs – also known as puchkas. 

This is food it’s easy to dance with, so fire up the stereo, grab a plate, and for the 12 seconds before it starts raining again, believe your back garden is the Pyramid Stage. Enjoy!

Spicy water bombs (known in Kolkata as puchkas)

By Rinku Dutt, founder of Raastawala

Makes 30 water bombs and serves 6

For the puri bread:
½ cup (100g) fine semolina
1 pinch baking powder
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup (59ml) carbonated water
1 circle shape cutter or jar lid (approx 1.5 inch in diameter) to make the puri shapes
2 cups (450ml) rapeseed oil, for frying

For the filling:
1 can black chickpeas (kala chana)
3 medium sized waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into very small cubes
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 green chili (add more to increase heat level)
3 tbsp chaat masala
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp rapeseed oil

For the tamarind water:
5 tbsp tamarind paste (try and find a good quality paste with no fibre strands)
3 tbsp jaggery or any dark sugar
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp dry roasted cumin seed powder (make your own by dry roasting cumin seeds then blending)
¼ tsp salt
4 tbsp water

To make the puffs

  1. In a medium sized bowl, mix the semolina, baking powder, flour, salt and carbonated water together. Knead for approximately 10 mins, ensuring the dough is quite tough and that all the moisture has been absorbed into the semolina. After kneading, make the dough into a ball, cover with a tea towel and let it rest for 15 mins.
  2. Once rested, divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Dust a little plain flour on a work surface and roll out each ball into a circle. From this circle, press down with the lid jar or shape cutter and try to get 4 puri circles from each dough ball. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
  3. Heat the oil in a karahi or deep wok. Ensure oil is heated fully by putting a small piece of spare flattened dough into the oil and seeing if it rises to the top. If it does, the oil is ready to go. Carefully place the puris into the oil, no more than 3 or 4 at a time. Once they puff into a ball, pull them out with a slotted spoon immediately and place on a kitchen towel to cool. 

To make the filling

  1. Place the cubed potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 10 mins. Once they are cooked through, drain and set aside to cool.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients for the filling into a bowl and mix well. Once the potatoes are cooled, add them in and mix. The filling is now ready.

To make the tamarind water

  1. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan, mix well and bring to boil.
  2. Allow to simmer for approximately 5 mins until the liquid becomes a thick chutney.
  3. Take off heat and allow to cool.
  4. Once cooled, dilute the chutney in a small jug or gravy pot by adding 2 parts water to 1 part chutney. Mix well. This should be a runny liquid

To assemble

  1. Just before serving, take each puff and gently knock a hole into the middle of one side with the back of a teaspoon.
  2. Put approximately 1 tsp of filling into the puff.
  3. Just as it’s going to be eaten, pour approximately 2 tsp of tamarind water into the spice-filled puff and immediately pop into your mouth. Enjoy!
Pork carnitas tacos

By Rupert Avery, founder of Dos Mas Tacos 

Makes 12 tacos to serve 4

For the pork:
1.2kg pork shoulder (boneless)
1 tbsp kosher salt
250g lard

For the salsa:
5 ripe tomatoes
½ cup (113g) dried árbol chilis
2 guajillo chilis
4 cloves garlic 
1 white onion 
¼ cup (57ml) cider vinegar 

For the garnish:
100g coriander, chopped
2 whole jalapeños, sliced
500g Monterey Jack cheese, grated
200g pickled red onions 
A pack of 12 corn tortillas


  1. Place a heavy cast iron pot on the stove and melt the lard. While your lard is melting, begin to take the skin of the pork shoulder by running your knife just under the fat. It doesn’t matter if you can’t take the whole thing off in one go; you can chop it into large pieces later on. Set the skin aside. 
  2. Once you’ve removed the skin, cut the pork shoulder into 3-4 medium-sized chunks and then add to the pot. Be mindful that once you’ve added the pork to the hot lard it will start to spit, so cover with a lid. 
  3. Begin to colour and brown the pork shoulder. This stage will maximise the dish's flavours and should take around 30 minutes. When the pork is coloured add 2-3 cups (475-710ml) of water, sprinkle the salt evenly around the pork, then cover and allow to cook for 2 hours. 
  4. Next, grab a frying pan and place it on the hob over a high heat. Cut your tomatoes in half and place them face down in the pan and char until they are completely blackened on one side.Then, add the charred tomatoes to a blender. Using the same hot pan, cut your onions and garlic in half and repeat the process. 
  5. Add your dried chilis to the hot frying pan and cook until toasted. Then, add a cup (237ml) of water and simmer the chilis for 10 minutes before adding to the blender.
  6. Add the cider vinegar to the blender, season to taste and then blitz for 1 minute until smooth. Adjust the consistency with a dash of water if it’s too thick. Ideally, you want your salsa to be runny.
  7. After 2 hours the pork should almost be there in tenderness. Add the pork skin, cover and cook for another 1.5 hours. If it needs more water, add another cup (237ml). 
  8. Once the pork is done, take it out with a pair of tongs and place onto a chopping or baking tray. Slice into small bits, season to taste, place into a serving dish and squeeze over the limes. 

To assemble the tacos

  1. Grab a frying pan and place it over a high heat. Once your pan is hot, grab a handful of Monterey Jack cheese and place it in a clump in the middle of the pan. As it starts to melt, place a tortilla on top of the cheese. 
  2. With a spatula, flip the tortilla over the other way. The cheese should be golden brown and melted. Grab a spoonful of your pork and place in the middle of your tortilla. Repeat the process until all your pork has been used. You should have about 12 tacos all together. 
  3. Take the taco off the heat and place onto a serving plate. Garnish with jalapeños, chopped coriander and pickled onions and serve. 
Sesame-crusted tofu summer rolls

By Jade Rathore, founder of Phung Kay Vegan and director of Phat Tofu 

Makes 24 half-rolls, serves 4-6

For the sesame crusted tofu:
340g extra firm tofu
2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp corn flour
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and grated
Mix of 75g white sesame seeds and 50g black sesame seeds
2 tbsp rapeseed oil, for frying
For the summer rolls:
12 sheets round rice paper (22cm diameter)
100g bean thread vermicelli (or rice vermicelli)
1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips
1 lettuce, leaves separated and washed (Jade uses red mignonette but you can use any variety)
¼ red cabbage, finally shredded
Handful chives
Handful coriander
4 limes, halved
Bowl of boiling water

For the dipping sauce:
6 tbsp sweet hoisin sauce
80g skinless peanuts

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C fan.
  2. First, make the sesame crusted tofu. Mix the tahini, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and corn flour together to make the marinade. Cut tofu into 1-inch thick strips and coat with the sauce mixture. Leave for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the summer roll filling.
  3. Prepare all the vegetables for the filling (as per ingredients list) and keep to one side. Soak the bean vermicelli for approximately 10 minutes until it's soft and transparent, drain and set aside.    
  4. Next, make the sauce. Roast the peanuts in the oven for 10 minutes until they're golden brown. Crush these lightly once cooled and sprinkle them on top of the sweet hoisin sauce.
  5. Heat ½ tbsp oil in a frying pan. Dip the marinated tofu strips in the black and white sesame mix and fry on a medium heat until the seeds are toasted and the tofu starts to crisp. Do this in batches and set aside to cool.
  6. Now it’s time to build the rolls. Dip a sheet of rice paper into the boiling water for a few seconds until it's completely wet and then spread it out on your work surface. You’ll notice that the paper is still quite hard, but it will continue to soften. Start placing your fillings at the bottom of the wrapper, leaving about two fingers' worth of space from the edge (this leaves you space to roll). First, place down a small amount of vermicelli, then add a strip of sesame tofu and a lettuce leaf, then finish off with a small amount of cucumber, red cabbage, chives and coriander. Don’t overfill the wrappers or they will be hard to roll.
  7. Lift the bottom edge of the rice paper wrapper and fold it over the filling. Tucking the filling in tightly, roll it over once to secure it in place then keep tightly rolling. When you are halfway up the wrapper, fold the ends of the rice paper over the filling and then continue to roll until it's completely enclosed.
  8. To serve, cut each roll in half and squeeze some lime juice over the fillings before dipping in the sweet hoisin and roasted peanut sauce.