UNESCO

If Singapore hawkers are Unesco heritage, why not India’s desi street food?



a pan of food on a plate: Hot and fresh samosas at a market in Bangalore.


Hot and fresh samosas at a market in Bangalore.

When Singapore’s hawker centres were recognised by the United Nations in December for their cultural significance, street food lovers across the globe had reason to celebrate.

After a two-year campaign, the UN’s cultural agency Unesco had finally added the world famous open air food courts to its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, thereby confirming what most foodies already knew instinctively to be true – that food with the humblest of origins is often worthy of the highest praise.

But while Singapore was widely seen to have been served

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How Singapore street food got recognized as a UNESCO treasure

Some civilizations chronicle their pasts with art or books. Others pass on history orally through folklore. In Singapore, the tale of how a humble fishing village in Southeast Asia evolved into a buzzing modern metropolis often comes in spoonfuls of peppery pork rib soup or bites of fried egg noodles at its hawker centers.

Across the city-state, the ubiquitous open-air food complexes are packed with closet-sized stalls, manned by hawkers—businesspeople who both cook and sell fare from Hainanese-style chicken to Peranakan laksa (lemongrass-coconut noodles). For visitors, hawker centers might just seem like jumbo food courts: Follow your nose or the

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