As the sweltering summer heat dwindles into the breezy evenings, the main streets of Bazarghat and Phisalbanda in Hyderabad, transform into what is now colloquially termed as the ‘Jowar roti ki galli’. Several women set up their stalls along the sidelines of the main roads, which welcome customers until midnight.

This trend, unlike the usual fitness-fads, gained popularity in the area due to its cost-effectiveness and accessibility over the last six months. Once a hub for greasy and indulgent street food, these regions now exhibit the proliferation of healthier and gluten-free jowar roti stalls.

Banu Begam, 48, a single mother of five, pioneered this trend six months ago and has been running her roti stall at Bazarghat ever since. She travelled to the city from Bidar, after she realised that the street food had great demand among fitness-conscious diners. Being a widow with a large family to support, she hoped to mirror that success in Hyderabad and migrated to Bazarghat.

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As a result, she now renders a unique service and has a steady source of income. When asked about the response she receives, she said, “Jowar roti is an age-old staple that has been consumed in most families over years. But most of my customers are young professionals who don’t have the time or the know-how of making these at home.” She added: “They find my stall a convenient and helpful way of staying fit.”

Her claims were resonated by customers who confessed to have made a shift in their dining habits. M Sundar, a software engineer by profession, is a regular customer at one of these stalls. He said, “I have seen a great amount of change in the eating habits of people on this street. Where, earlier, people preferred street Chinese and quick breakfast tiffins, they now are more inclined to buying jawar rotis… I think it’s a guilt-free pleasure for street food lovers.”

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Another roti seller, Govindhamma, 65, also had similar observations. “I try to feed my customers a healthy and complete meal. Along with my jowar rotis, I provide them with a variety of vegetable curries. That’s why I am able to run my business successfully,” she said.

They are also delicious, is another reason for their success. “This is way tastier than the butter naans we eat in restaurants. Switching to jowar roti has made me realise how quickly our generation is getting unhealthy and lethargic due to these kind of foods,” Mohammad Afzal, an engineering student. #KhabarLive