When the streets of major cities are filled with the scent of sizzling meat, grilled breads, and still-warm, crunchy waffles wrapped in paper, it’s a wonder anyone would want a meal that doesn’t come from a cart. For those who don’t have access to such diverse sidewalk bites—and also for those who can’t be bothered to put on pants and walk outside—we had to share our nine favorite recipes for street foods you can make in the comfort of your own kitchen.
These Vietnamese sandwiches combine French ingredients like mayo and a baguette with cilantro and pickled veg. DIY pickled veggies are super fresh and tasty, but you can use store-bought in a pinch. For even more time-saving, slice leftover chicken or tofu from last night (regardless of marinade flavor) and stuff into a baguette with briny cucumber and carrots, cilantro, and sliced jalapeño.
Have you made falafel with cooked chickpeas? Did they all fall apart and make you want to cry into your pita? Here’s the reason it didn’t work: A successful falafel should be made with uncooked chickpeas, soaked for 24 hours. Once the legumes have soaked, all it takes is a quick spin in the food processor with herbs, garlic, and onion before a trip in the oven. Can’t possibly wait for your chickpeas to soak? You can use canned chickpeas, but you’ll need to throw in some extra flour to bind the mixture.
It’s dinnertime, and you’re craving a gyro. (Like, right-this-minute kind of craving.) If you can hang on for 20 minutes more, you won’t have to wander to the nearest Greek food cart. Cram thin slices of chicken—or any cooked meat you have—into a pita with red pepper, onion, lettuce, and feta cheese. No gyro is complete without a good pour of tzatziki, a cooling cucumber and yogurt sauce.
Arepas—corn pancakes popular in Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine—are like tacos, but better. Masarepa, a dehydrated cooked cornmeal (available in the Latin section of most grocery stores) is the base of the dough for this dish. Pan-fry the cakes, then fill with a spicy mixture of black beans, jalapeño, and cilantro.
In Belgium, waffles are a traditional street food eaten with hands—not like the whipped cream-covered versions you’d find at a typical American brunch. All this simple oat flour-based waffle needs is a dusting of powdered sugar; wrap it in waxed paper and take a walk around the block for the full effect.
Here’s a tip: Shish kabobs are way easier than other grilled meals, because the veg and protein are all in the same place. The popular Turkish street food is typically made with lamb, but this recipe calls for beef. Season cubed filet mignon (use tip sirloin or chicken breasts for a cheaper option) with a smoky spice rub, then marinate in red wine and onion. Skewer the meat between peppers and onion and get grilling.
Satay—a seasoned grilled meat skewer served with sauce—pops up in many Southeast Asian cuisines, and now it’s popping up in your kitchen. Simply brush skewered chicken with thick soy sauce and fire up the grill (or pan-fry.) Serve with your favorite bottled peanut sauce or take a whack at the quick accompanying homemade recipe.
Any time spent walking around is immediately improved with a taco in hand. Marinate tender flank or skirt steak in a garlicky lime mixture, then slice thin. Fill a small corn tortilla with steak, white onions, and avocado slices, plus a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and squeezed lime for a zippy finish.
Classic brown and yellow street-style cheesesteaks are the optimal meal after trekking around the city of brotherly love all day, but when making them at home we get a little more creative. Add peppers, onions, and mushrooms to a slow cooker along with a beef chuck roast. Serve the warm meat and veg with provolone cheese on a toasted multigrain roll.
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