If you’re planning a visit to India, you simply can not ignore the famous local food there. It would be a total shame if you visit any foreign country, and not even try the food that country is famous for.
So many times, if you don’t do your research, there are so many hidden flavors that you would simply miss if you don’t go beyond what you normally eat.
Going to India and trying exotic food is so many people’s dream. So, here I am giving you a little intro to the foods that I grew up eating, and some of my favorite Indian foods.
There are so many of these food that I don’t attempt to cook, simply because it’s not that easy to find some of the ingredients in the States, and some are very labor intensive to cook from scratch.
So I always look forward to India visits, where I eat all of these delicacies to my heart’s content, cooked by my family, and frequenting my favorite restaurants.
On our recent two month visit to India, it was one meal after another, relished with everyone in the family. Here are the highlights…
What to Eat in India
1. Curries, curries more curries
If you’re visiting “Curry Land”, there is certainly no shortage of curries there. Try all your favorite curries in the most authentic forms.
From restaurants to home-styles, to more regional varieties, we tried curries in every single way, many of which I had been craving for years.
Mutton, aka goat meat, is the most beloved meat in India. As it’s not very readily available in American supermarkets, I made sure I have my share of my favorite mutton almost every Sunday, our main family meal day when we eat special fares.
It’s especially popular in curries and biryanis, as well as some varieties of kebabs.
I love seafood in Indian avatar. From fish fried in earthy exotic spices, to my mom’s special fish curry, to regional specialties with crab, clams, shrimp, Bombay duck (a Mumbai special), it was one feast after another.
Be sure to try our Shrimp Korma, it’s one of the most popular Indian seafood dishes.
4. Biryani & Pulao
Biryani is not just a meal, but quite a culinary feat. This iconic Indian dish can be made with goat meat or chicken, or can be made vegetarian. It’s a layered rice dish which is finger licking delicious.
Though you will find it in every Indian restaurant, most households have that special person who has mastered the art of making Biryani. Of course, in our home it’s my mom who is known for her amazing Biryanis.
Maybe one day she will share her secrets of how to make world famous authentic biryani on GypsyPlate…
When it comes to kababs, we have arrays of different varieties to choose from. They’re our favorite starters. We love enjoying these morsels every time we order take out or go to restaurants.
Try making our Chicken Tikka recipe.
Dal, or lentils, with rice is India’s everyday staple in every household. It’s their comfort food, and something they want to eat at almost every meal. So of course, there was one or other kind of lentil almost every day.
Learn how to make our famous Dal Tadka in your very own kitchen.
7. Street Food
Street food is such an integral part of Indian lifestyle and culture, and Mumbai has plenty of it at every nook and corner. It’s very tasty, and there are tons of varieties, from the famous Pani Puri, Bhel Puri, Ragada Pattis, Pav Bhaji, sandwiches and so much more.
Take note that Western sanitation standards are not followed. So if you have a fragile stomach, be cautious, aka stay away. Leave those to me… haha.
A few popular exaples:
– Pani Puri
Pani puri occupies a special place in Indian hearts, and in their bellies. The puris with a hole in the middle are filled with savory, tangy water with help of different chutneys and some other savory fillings.
The explosion of flavors that happens when you pop them in your mouth is one of the “MUST” thing you should experience when in India. Oh… How much I miss them when away from India.
This spicy, sweet, tangy, savory, salty, crunchy snack is heaped with different chutneys and a good bit of yogurt. They get gobbled up very fast.
Bhel, or Bhel Puri, is another of India’s very popular street foods, available all over the country. It is made of puffed rice, vegetables and a tangy tamarind sauce, and has a crunchy texture.
– Misal Pav
Misal Pav is Mumbai’s local specialty. Known for its spicy hot flavor, it’s a vegetarian curry dish served along with local bread.
– Pav Bhaji
This is another Mumbai street food. Pav Bhaji is a very flavorful vegetable mash with plenty of Indian spices and tons of butter, also served with bread. We tried making it at home. Yum.
These triangular empanada-like snacks are stuffed with a spiced potato filling. They are very popular with the masses.
– Bombay Sandwich
There is a sandwich which is named after the city. You will find it on every nook and corner of Mumbai.
Very thin slices of different veggies are packed between bread, then the sandwich is slathered in plenty of butter and green chutney. It comes in regular and grilled form.
Craving Chinese? We have plenty, it’s just made the Indian way. And that’s Indo-Chinese (except in very high end authentic Chinese Restaurants in Mumbai and other large cities).
The way most of the Chinese food in America is made to suit American palates, Indo-Chinese is made for Indian tastes. You will find double the amounts of ginger and garlic in most the dishes. It’s a great way to find out how different cuisines taste different in different countries.
9. Idli-Vada Sambar
It’s a South Indian affair, but very popular all over the country. It’s everyone’s favorite snacking item, often eaten at breakfast, but also enjoyed any time of the day.
10. Masala Dosa
Another favorite dish coming from the south, this crepe like thing is absolutely yummy along with a spicy potato dish, and served with coconut chutney.
Thali is an experience. It’s a huge meal served on a giant platter with lots of different types of vegetables, along with different varieties of rotis and rice.
There are specialty Thali restaurants only serving this kind of big meal.
They come in pure vegetarian, or non-veg options. Go on an empty stomach if planning a Thali meal.
11. Puran Poli
Puran Poli is an Indian delicacy made by stuffing soft whole wheat dough with soft-cooked yellow lentils, jaggery (a type of sugar), and a few earthy spices like cardamom and nutmeg.
It is then rolled thin and cooked on a pan with lots of ghee, to make it into a crisp golden brown, flavorful, and aromatic poli.
Again, my mom’s Puran Polis are the softest and most delicious out there. Did you notice how much they puff up while frying? I bet it’s years of practice and mastering the cooking techniques…
12. Indian Sweets
We don’t have much of sweet tooths (and you need that to try some of the sweetest desserts on earth in India). But we did try some very famous Indian desserts like dry fruit burfi, angur ras malai, gulab jamun, sizzling brownies and a yum chocolate dome here and there.
India’s Alphonso Mangoes… Our trip to India this time was in May and June, May being India’s peak Mango season (which I missed for years and years).
There is no better mango in the entire world than Indian Alphonso Mangoes (and I am not exaggerating at all here). We had a big feast every day, devouring one after another.
14. Beyond Indian Food
Well… For Jason he can take curries as a novelties, but not for every dinner. So of course, he had lots of other options in and around Mumbai.
Mumbai, like any other of the biggest metros in the world, offers any of the world cuisines at their finest. However, it’s found in authentic form only in very high end restaurants, or in five star hotels.
We tried some Middle Eastern fare, as well as some great Chinese and Italian food on our excursions.
Going beyond these specialty high end restaurants in Mumbai, you can still find all of these international cuisines everywhere. It’s just creatively cooked, suitable to the Indian palate.
So it’s Indo-Chinese, Indo-Italian, Indo-Mexican and so forth. You will even find Indo-Snickers, made with saffron and pistachios.
So there you go. Though I mentioned all of these dishes, they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the array of food you are going to find in India.
Go and explore all of these delicious flavors. Go beyond your comfort level when it comes to food, you will be amazed at the wonderful flavors this world holds in Pandora’s taste box.
We hope this inspires you to travel the world and try new things. For us, we’re coming home to Florida after almost three months hopping continents.
BTW… what will be our next destination coming soon… any guesses?
Cook these Indian Recipes at home!
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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