India is a land of hospitality and our hospitality is directly proportional to how much food is stuffed into our guests. With mouth watering food on every turn and served at every eatery, you surely are in for some lip smacking hospitality and a food baby!
Here is a list of foods you should savour if you are visiting India.
India is the home to the chaat. Ubiquitous Street food with varieties that will titillate or outright burn your palate to leave a surprisingly delightful aftertaste and a definite craving for more. It can include dishes like bhelpuri, sev puri, ragda patties, pani puri,dahi puri and many more. Savoury, sweet and hellishly spicy, you can’t leave our country without trying it out.
Tip- it’s pretty spicy and many cases of Delhi belly have occurred on having from unhygienic outlets. You can visit Anand sweets outlet or any other decent looking chaat shop. You can request the vendor to reduce the spicy masala and chutney in your chaat according to your taste and tolerance.
This dish originally from Maharashtra, has now found its place in most street foods. It is a mixed vegetable puree served with soft naans. There is serious overload of butter (read:yum!) and not for the faint hearted.
Tip- Come on have some…the butter calleth!
This dish is the pride of South Indian cuisine. Traditionally an Indian breakfast, it has found a spot at street stalls as an evening snack for office goers. With globalisation and the insatiable Indian palate, literally hundreds of dosa varieties have come up. Dosa is flat crepe like dish with batter made of fermented rice and mixed lentils. Crispy and soft all at the same time with huge portion sizes, this is one dish to relish and is particularly nutritious. It comes with a coconut chutney and sambhar and can be served plain or with one of the many stuffing varieties such as Mysore masala dosa, Chinese masala dosa, Cheese masala dosa, and paneer masala dosa.
Some time in history our ancestors were very fond of their meat and chops and decided to treat themselves to an explosion of flavours in their favourite food. And succeed they did in creating something heavenly to fulfill to their earthly desire of eating. The kababs you can choose from include reshmi kabab, galouti kabab, kakori kabab, shaami kabab, hariyali kabab and the list just goes on.
Tip- try the Kabab factory. It’s a chain of restaurants where the portions of kababs served are endless till you go senseless! Galouti kabab, a spicy melt in mouth preparation, is their speciality. Go armed with an appetite and antacid and leave your diet and cholesterol woes at home for that one meal!
Hyderabad dum biryani
It would be anti-national of me to not mention this in the must-try foods of India. Simmered in clay pots for more than hour, the mention of Hyderabad dum biryani evokes emotions in me that I didn’t know I could feel for food. Slowly cooked to perfection with the meats tender and flavours infused through every grain of rice, this dish is quick to disappear from the plate.
Tip- Hyderabad is the best place to enjoy mutton. The meat is cooked artistically to melt in mouth softness and perfection.
This is exactly what it sounds like. Rich, creamy, cooked over hours, it is a gravy with boneless chicken. Traditionally a punjabi dish, it is now found in most restaurants. Many restaurants do disappoint me with their butter chicken preparation so do check out the ratings on zomato.com.
Tip- Using molecular gastronomy, an amazing concoction of butter chicken is served at the Masala Library in Mumbai. Limited seating and prior reservation. If you think food is art then you will find artists are the chefs at the Masala Library.
Other vegetarian punjabi gravies you must try include dal makani (Mixed lentils), dal bukhara and malai kofta (Vegetarian dumplings in creamy gravy)
Rajasthani are known for their thhalis served with oodles of ghee and love. A thhali is an assortment of multiple curries and vegetable served together in a plate with accompanying rice, chapatis, papads, pickle and curd. The special dishes include daal baati churma and gatte ki sabzi.
Tip- Try Rajdhani chain of restaurants for a truly Rajasthani experience.
South Indian Thhali
Similar in concept to the Rajasthani Thhali but flavours are predominantly south Indian. South Indian thhalis consist of sambhar, chutneys, pickles and curd.
Tip- Try Nagarjuna chain of restaurants if visiting Bangalore. They serve amazing Andhra cuisine and have non vegetarian options too. Do not shy away from the ghee that they tempt you with. The extra calories are definitely worth the taste!
Amazing, delicious and oh-so-rich
Must try include- Gulab jamuns, rasmalai, rabri, Badam ka halwa, rasgullas, mishti doi, kalakand, pethas and kulfi. The list is really exhaustive and no indian dessert plays second fiddle to any other, each being special and sumptuous in its own right.
This dessert can confuse foreigners like no other. Hypnotic coil shape with a sugary filling and thin crispy coat, this is a great breakfast in north India with accompanying milk. It’s deep fried, it’s dipped in sugar syrup, it’s the jalebi.
Tip- you are on vacation, just splurge!
Gajar ka halwa
It is a dessert made of grated carrots but this oversimplification is just an insult to that dish. It is rich, melt in mouth and to be relished. You have to try it to believe that this is the stuff sweet dreams are made of.
This list is not exhaustive and let your nose and taste buds guide you and take you on a gastronomic tour of India.
Tip- do try food ordering apps like zomato, food panda and tiny owl for ordering, reviewing and locating restaurants in India.
Bon voyage and bon apetit!