Agre ka petha, Dilli ki Chat, Kolkata ka roshogolla, Punjab ki Lassi, Mussorie ki sardi mein doodh jalebi, Kota ki kachori , Ahmedabad ka dhokla, Mumbai ka vada pao , Brahmins cafe ki idli , Indore ki Khao gali or hyderabadi ki biryani.
The list is really long and I know for sure why I love my country so much. No matter where we go, we want to come back to India.Lets try to look at the travel in India from the food point of view. Khana 🙂 ‘ jahan bhi jana jam ke dabana’.
Cuisines of India
Given that I am an East bengali , was born in Central India, studied in Western India, Staying in south India presently and most of my cooking involves north Indian recipes , I think I can definitely talk Indian cuisines.
North Indian – Kashmiri, Punjabi, Awadhi and Muglai
Kashmir , one of the most beautiful region of India and called as heaven on earth is also popular for its heavenly rich and mouth watering preparations – lamb based dishes, Dum aloo and kehwa (tea), biryani to name a few . Kashmiri cuisine is a perfect confluence of three different cooking styles – Kashmiri Pandits, Mughals of Persian origin and Muslims of Central Asian origin. One of the most popular dishes and worth trying if you are a non veg and coming to India is Mutton rogan josh. Kashmiri ceremonial feast is known as Wazwan , 36 course meat based meal. Wow !
Punjabi Cuisine – First thing comes to my mind is makki di roti – sarson da saag. Popular punjabi dishes are rajama chawal (kidney beans+ rice), chole chawal, Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) dishes, Dal makhni,tandoori food.Do try the lassi along with the tandoori food for sure. Eat at a dhaba or genuine punjabi restaurant to get the authentic taste.
Awadhi and Muglai cuisines are from uttar pradesh region of India. Mughlai style of cooking as the name suggests was developed during the Mughal regime. It represents the cooking styles used in North India, Pakistan, and the Indian city of Hyderabad. These dishes are rich in fat,proteins and carbohydrates famous for the exotic use of spices, dry fruits and nuts. Muglai biryani, kebabs, koftas, Shahi korma, Shahjehani murg masala, meat durbari etc etc. You must try kebabs for sure if not anything else- mutton seek kebab, reshmi kebab, hara bhara kebab.
Awadhi cuisine is specifically from lucknow city of UP, one of the culinary capitals of India.It has been the place of nawabs . Awadi cuisine is the outcome of the Indo- Islamic culture which developed as a result of mingling between hindu and muslims in Avadh region while Awadh was politically and socially quite important. This emergence of new style in cooking was marked by experimentation, finesse in the hands of the chefs and sophisticated serving dishes.Cooking on dum (pot) is a distinctive Avadhi technique.
Kakori kebab, Galauti kebab, Avadhi biryani, tunde ke kebab, Murgh Mussallam , kulfi falooda, shami kebab.… hmmmmm hungry kya?? Must try – Galouti Kebab then.
Please note that most of our cities have all these cuisines available irrespective of the region you are in, so come to India with your list of dishes that you would like to try and just order 🙂
East – Bengali, Bihari and Oriya
Spoke a lot about mutton and chicken dishes, now try some fish, you are in bengal and orissa region. Most bengalis love to eat almost everything but then fish is what keeps them alive and gives them necessary omega3 fatty acids, vitamin D3 and energy to discuss politics, state of affairs and Mamta Banerjee 🙂
Bengali cuisine – This region again has the influence of Nawabi culture and the British European culture. Preparation are different with subtle and fiery flavours, mostly a blend of sweet and spicy.
There are east bengali dishes and west bengali dishes. Poshto from West Bengal and shorshe bata from East Bengal. A little too complicated no?? ok so try these things for sure- Aloo jhinge poshto (poppy seeds preparation) , Shoshe bata maach ( fish in yellow mustard preparation) , ilish bhappa (Hilsa fish preparation) , Chingri Malai Curry (prawns), Roshogolla (sweet dish made out of cottage cheese) and Mishti Doi (Sweet curd)
Actually there are many more for example kosha mangsho, dhokar dalana, chana dal with luchi , chena payesh….we really do eat a lot, you see !! And you too can come to Bengal for the sole purpose of satisfying your taste buds, no harm. Come during Durga pooja ,go to pooja pandal and get in the queue in front of the food stalls. Its also a kind of spiritual level 😉
Bihari cuisine reminds me of Malpua first and then litti chokha, dal puri, parwal ki mithai, the cuisine is mostly vegetarian. Orissa is lot influenced by bengal but the cuisine is synonym with Dalma prepared with lentils and vegetables.
West – Marathi, Gujarati , Rajasthani/Marwari & Goan
Marathi Cuisine – State of Maharashtra is home to popular cities like Mumbai (Bombay) and Pune. And this state touches coastal belt on one hand and central India on the other stretching from western ghats to northern central parts of Deccan plateu. This makes Maharashtra cuisine unique in its own way , dishes range from being mild to very spicy. This is the local style cooking as this region had little or no influence of the other sects. Kadhi chawal (curd preparation with rice), Vada pao & Misal Pao (Indian version of burger), Pao bhaji, Puran Poli (Stuffed Indian bread, stuffing is made out of jaggery, yellow gram & cardamom and is eaten with lot of ghee) , Srikhand (sweet dish made out of sweetened yogurt) and then there are spicy kolahpuri dishes (veg and non veg both) at the other end of the specturm.
Gujarati– Dhokla, Thepla, Phaphda,khakhra land. Gujrati food is primarily vegetarian with high nutritional value. In most Indian tourist places, you will have a restaurant serving Gujarati Thali, Rajasthani thali and Jain thali for vegetarians. Gujarati cuisine is delectable and involves many snacks and chutney preparations. I personally like Gujarati food a lot, my favorite being Dhabeli (Gujarati burger). Gujarati food has an appealing palate pleasing sweet and sour combination. Gujarat being a hot and dry place makes the use of tomatoes, lemon and sugar quite common in its cuisine to save the body from dehydration. Gujarati have their own style of making kadhi. Infact there are some 4-5 types of kadhi (curd based preparation to be had with rice) prevalent in India – Marathi Kadhi, Gujarati Kadhi, Punjabi Kadhi and Rajasthani kadhi
Rajasthani/Marwari – Like Gujarat even Rajasthan is snacker’s paradise and in known for bikaneri bhujia, pyaj kachori, mawa kachori, ghewar and mirchi bada. Besides rajathani cuisine must have items are Dal bati churma, Gatte ki sabji etc. Rajasthani dishes make liberal use of ghee (clarified butter). If you are a non veg , you should tatse Lal maas for sure in rajasthan. Traditional rajasthani thali is a big fat gastronomic delight which includes Indian breads (jwar roti, bajra roti, makka roti etc), khadi, dal, vegetables (dry and curry preparations), chutney, salad, snacks, papad, 2-3 desserts and butter milk. My favorite dishes include Moong dal halwa, Jaisalmer ki dal, Udaipur ka laal maas, Kota ki pyaj Kachori.
Goa– Love sun ,sand, beaches and sea food?? Welcome to the land of Goa. Portuguese inhabitants occupied Goa for almost 400 plus years and hence Goan cuisine is a result of Konkan Hindu influence on one side and Catholic on the other. It’s a potpourri of flavors: beef, pork, vinegar ,coconot, jaggery, cashew/fenny and lots and lots of seafood. Popular recipes include Goan fish curry, prawn balchao, Pork sorpotel, Fish Recheado (Stuffed pomfret), Pork Vindaloo(combination of vinegar, red spices for making this pork curry), Chicken Xacuti, Checken cafreal (portuguese style- includes spices, vinegar and rum) and Rava fried fish (Semolina is used for crunchiness)
Central India – We have grown up eating Poha Jalebi for breakfast and till date I feel Poha (Rice flakes preparation) tastes best in Madhya Pradesh. Central India is Bhopal, Gwalior, Chattisgarh , Malwa and Indore region, Indore being the capital of street food in India. This cuisine is again a unique blend of various influences from all sides including northern and eastern region of India.Wheat preparations (Indian breads) with vegetables, Paneer (cottage cheese ) & Dal (lentils) in veg as well as Meat preparations(biryani, pulao, kebabs,korma, keema) famous in Bhopal belt. Dal bafle is the MP version of rajasthani Dal baati which is particularly popular in Indore-Ujjain region.
North Eastern – People from all other parts Of India perceive Momos, Chowmein, Manchurian and Thukpa to be the North Eastern cuisine however that’s not all. North eastern cuisine is rich and has variety that comes from 7 sister states. This region includes places like Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram etc and has primary influence of Bengal on one hand and Chinese dishes on the other. Rice is the staple food. In Assam you will get Rice with Tengamach (sour fish) but in Sikkim as well as Arunachal , you will find the Thukpa (noodle soup), Chowmein and momos being popular as a result of chinese and Tibetan influence. Most of the grains and vegetables grown there are organic and that’s the best part.
Ever heard of Raja mirchi or Bhut Jolokia, by the way ? It is the hottest chilli in the world as per Guinness World records, grown in Nagaland. Now you can imagine the Naga dishes. Hot really hot !!While Nagaland is famous for its bamboo and meat preparation for example Swachair, manipur is for its fish delicacies. Popular dishes from Meghalaya are jadoh, kikpu, tung-toh, and pickled bamboo shoots. More adventurous can also try rice beer (local preparation of beer out of rice) in north east.
South Indian – It comprises of Andra region, Karnataka,Tamilnadu and Kerela.Leaving Andra food which is comparatively hot and spicy, everything else is mild flavor using coconut, curry leaves and home made spices. Rice is again the staple food here and both Idli, dosa are rice combined with lentils preparations, supposedly healthy breakfast options. popular dishes of south include Idli, Masala Dosa, Vada, Chicken Chettinad, Hyderabadi biryani, Appam with stew, Payasam (kheer- rice based dessert), Gongura Mamsam(lamb curry)
Indian cities and what they are famous for
As said earlier, in most cities and towns you will get all the food varieties especially in the state capitals or primary tourist destinations. Yet here is a list of specilities that you should eat when you are in these cities.
Delhi – Capital of India and is famous for its Chaat , Chola bhatura, Stuffed parathas, Tandoori, Butter Chicken, Dal Makhni.
Murthal – Place in Haryana near Delhi and on the way to Chandigarh. You must eat at the dhabas here. Food tastes the best here in India. Order parathas or any north Indian preparation.
Kolkata – Food lover’s paradise famous for its roshogolla, mishti Doi and fish preparations(prawn malai curry, Iilish bhappa) and even Indian Chinese. Mecca for people with sweet tooth.
Chennai, Bangalore–Idli, Dosa (variety of dosas), Vada, Rasam, Sambhar, chicken 65 and Chettinad style preparation, and filter Coffee
Mumbai – Vada pao, Pao bhaji, kolahpuri dishes and Parsi cuisine.
Indore – Famous for the street food, Go to Khau gali in Sarafa bazaar for all kings of chaats, snacks and sweets.
Lucknow – Kebab capital especially famous for Galouti kebab and biryani. Must try places – Tunde ke kabab, Idris ki biryani, Rahim ke kulche Nihari, Wahid Mia’s biryani.
Agra – Famous for Petha and Daal moth (mixture)
Mathura – Pethe
Ahmedabad – Dhokla, and Gujarati thali
Jaipur/ Udaipur/Jaisalmer (Rajasthan state) – Dal baati churma, Laal Maas, Rajasthani thali, Ghewar
Kota – Pyaaj kachori
Benaras – Famous for its magai paan and lip smacking laung lata, malai rabri varieties and thandai. Besides, you should try kachori sabji,jalebi, tamatar chaat, lassi,rasagulla, aloo tikki, bun malai, malaiyyo,malai chena roll when in Benaras.
Srinagar – Kashmiri dum Aloo, Mutton Roganjosh, Gustaba with kashmiri pulao
Hyderabad– Hyderabadi Biryani
Gangtok – Momo and chowmein
Goa (State) – Seafood especially prawn gassi and goan fish curry.
Kochi (Kerela) – Kerela paratha, Uppam – Stew and fish fry.
Mysore – Mysore pak and Myore Masala dosa
Amritsar – Fish amritsari, Makki di roti sarson da saag, amritsari daal.
Pondicherry – Indian french cuisine.
Food Streets / Restaurants / Hotels where you should go
- Street Food – Chandani chowk, Parathe Wali gali, moolchand ke parathe, Bittu tikki wala for Aloo tikki, Nand ke chole bhature and Lotan ke matar kulche,Roshan kulfi at karol bagh, Om sweets and Kakke di hatti at karol bagh. Try daulat ki chaat at chandani chowk.Besides you can always go to Haldiram’s and Bikanerwala for variety of Chaats, Snacks, Short eats and Sweets.
- For Kebabs- Khan Chacha ke Kebabs, Karim’s and Kebab Factory at Saket
- Fine dining- Dum Pukht, Moti Mahal, Bhukara and Park Balluchi for non vegetarian fine dining.
Chowpatty, Sharma chaat center in Juhu. In south Mumbai , you have Girgaum chowpatty snack shops, Bachelors for shakes, pizzas & sandwiches (Indian style), and Homji kaho Gali at Fort for various short eats and snacks. Cannon Pav bhaji at Chatrapati Shivaji terminus and Sardar paobhaji in Tardeo , Baademiyan kebabs and rolls at Colaba. Head to Aaswad or Prakash in Dadar for authentic marathi meal. Try Parsi food at Jimmu Boy, Military Cafe in Fort Soda bottle openerwalla at BKC. Besides you have variety of famous food restaurant chains for regional cuisines of India.
Maharaja chaat center at Vivekananda Park for love of phuchkas, Flury’s for the old world charm, Peter Cat Anglo Indian restaurant at Park Street, China Town for chinese food, Mayaram’s Pao bhaji, Balaram Mullick & Radharam Mullick, Bhawanipore for sweets, Bohemian for bengali cuisine with a difference.
Paradise biryani, Dum pukht biryani in Begumpet, Keema samosa at sardar ki dukan, famous ice cream at Mozamshahi.
You can get food from North to Eastern to South Indian.
High end – The Royal Afgan at Windsor Manor. Mid range -Zaffran for Goulati kebab and Biryani, Soda bottle openerwala for Parsi cuisine, Barbeque Nation, Fishrman’s wharf for sea food. Budget -Brahmin’s cafe for Idlis, CTR (Shree sagar) and MTR for south Indian food, Nandini and Nagarjuna for Andra cuisine , Nagratpet for street food at night.
Chowki dhani for special rajasthani thali, Kota ratan ki kachori, LMB (Laxmi mishthan bhandar) for your street food cravings, Lassiwala ki lassi, Ramchandra ki special kulfi. Sanjay Omellette in Bapunagar, 1135 AD in its imperial settings for Mughlai, Rajasthani and North Indian delights.
Ambrai restaurant on the banks of lake pichola for laal maas, Shri lala mishtaan for kachori, Dilli gate ki jalebi at bhole mishtaan,
Agashiye , a rooftop Indo-Baroque heritage offers fine dining for traditional variety. Swati snacks and gordhan thal again for traditional food, Moti Mahal to delight non vegetarians. Street foods- Asharfi ki kulfi, Induben khakhrawala, Manekchow walled city for variety of street foods in the evening.
Try chaat, bhutte ka kees, gulab jamun ,shikanji, hot dogs at sarafa night market, kaju curry at Gurukripa restaurant or mathurawal’s chanakya restaurant.Kebabs at Pichori dhaba, Vijay chaat house, Rambabu ke parathe in Vijaynagar. Nakhrali dhani for rajasthani food in Indore,chappan bhog for sweets, poha jalebi and samosa kachori (no oil) and Kebabsville Sayaji for fine dining
Tunde ke kabab, Idris ki biryani, Shukla ki mutter chaat and aloo tikki, rahim ke kulche nihari, bajpai ki kachori puri chole, kalika ki mutton handi .
Kachori gali for kachori, Deena Chat bhandar,kashi vishwanath thandai ghar, baba thandaiwala, shribandu sweets for malaiyyo, chai and malai toast at lakshmi chaiwala, Pahalwan lassi bhanadar.
Eathern oven for North Indian food in Candolim Goa. Shacks to try – Calamari in Candolim, Brittos in Baga for continental, Souza Lobo Calangute specializing in seafood and traditional Goan cuisine and Thalassa, situated atop a high cliff in Vagator, is an open-air Greek restaurant.
Please Note : The above mentioned food streets/restaurants/places do not make the complete or comprehensive list, request you to please add your suggestions in terms of particular streets, restaurants and shops which are your favorites and you would like people to know about them. Use comments section to add your suggestions.