Don't leave India without trying these ten traditional dishes, they're nothing like the takeaways we have at home!
06 Nov 2018
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Indian takeaways are wildly popular in Britain, so it may surprise you to know that a lot of the food you come across on takeaway menus won't in fact be seen anywhere in India! This is because dishes enjoyed internationally, such as Madras, are not traditional Indian meals. Most options in Britain’s curry houses have been designed to appeal to the palate of the British people. However, India’s cuisine is as diverse as its culture, with many hundreds of dishes that you've probably never heard of. For anyone travelling to India, the opportunity to sample the country’s delicious, flavoursome food shouldn't be missed.
Here are some of our favourite dishes we think you should try on your trip to India...
Originally from Uttar Pradesh but now widely enjoyed across the whole country, Chaats are a type of Indian street food, usually eaten as a snack. Chaat is the name given to not just one specific dish but to a whole variety of dishes - examples include Panipuri, Vadapav and Pav Bhaji. Whilst there is a vast range of different Chaats available, the key ingredients usually include tomatoes, chilli powder and tamarind.
Thali is a combination of meals, consisting of two or more curries, steamed rice, poppadoms, pickle, naan or chapatti, buttermilk, raita and a sweet dish, all served on one plate. This meal provides the perfect opportunity to sample several different Indian dishes all at once. Thali is originally from North India, but is now found throughout the country, and the type of food items served may differ between North and South India.
Traditionally consisting of lamb served in a flavourful and fiery sauce, coloured red by kashmiri chilli powder, Rogan Josh is a special food item of Northern India. There are many different ways of preparing this dish, but the main ingredients include garlic, pepper, ginger and cardamom to name a few. In British curry houses, the addition of tomatoes and yoghurt to this dish makes it different from the traditional Rogan Josh served in India.
An ideal place for seafood lovers to dine is Kerala. Located on India’s south west coast, this beautiful state is flanked by the Arabian sea on one side, which means that there is an abundance of fresh, local produce to sample throughout the whole year. A typical lunch in Kerala consists of fish, rice and vegetables. A few examples from the diverse range of meal options available in this area include Appam and Crab Masala, Chilli Garlic Prawns and of course lots of fish.
Punjab is a farmland region in the North West of India. Punjabis are renowned for loving chicken, and traditional meals include Dhal (lentil curry) Makhani, Palak Paneer, Butter Chicken and Tandoori Roti (chapatis or flatbreads). Vegetable based dishes, consisting of potatoes, carrots and cauliflowers are also very popular whereas pickles, especially ones containing mangoes are a common side dish to traditional Punjabi meals.
Lucknow and Delhi Kebabs
The cities of Lucknow and Delhi are famed for their kebabs, which are made from minced meat, onions, tomatoes and spices. Lucknow offers a diverse range of kebabs to travellers, including the famous Tunday kebab. The word ‘Tunday’ means one arm, and this name was applied to kebabs made by shop owner Haji Murad Ali, who made all of his kebabs with only one hand after losing his other arm in an accident. You can try these delicious kebabs on our Incredible Edible India Food Tour!
Originally created in the Moti Mahal Restaurant in Delhi, Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, consists of the leftovers of Tandori Chicken cooked in a ‘gravy’ made up of tomatoes, cream, various spices and of course butter. From its humble beginnings, this dish rapidly grew in popularity and is now one of the most eaten Indian meals in the world. The ideal Butter Chicken will maintain the perfect balance of velvety texture and tangy taste.
Idli Sambar or Idli Vada
Originating from the state of Tamil Nadu, Idli Vada is a very common South Indian dish, so popular that it can be found everywhere, from high end restaurants to pushcart vendors. It consists of Idlis, (a type of rice cake), Vadas (similar to doughnuts or fritters), hot vegetable stew called Sambar and a mild, spiced coconut chutney. Usually eaten for breakfast, Idli Vadas are both light in texture and filling.
Chettinad is the name given to a wide variety of dishes stemming from the Chettinad region, located in South India. This dish is traditionally presented on a banana leaf instead of a plate, with each food item having a specific place. Chettinad has a reputation for being quite fiery, but usually the dish is milder with perfectly balanced flavours. Some examples of Chettinad dishes include Chettinad Chicken and Karaikudi Eral Masala.
Traditionally a breakfast dish, Nihari gets it’s name from ‘Nahar’, the Arabic word for morning. Nihari is a spicy stew-based dish symbolic of Delhi. It consists of slow cooked meat in a hot and spicy sauce and was originally eaten by the Indian royal families. With its energizing properties, it is sure to give anyone who tries it a boost to kick-start the day.
Is your mouth watering? Do you fancy trying these delicious dishes for yourself? Far and Wild offers trips to various locations across India, which will give you the opportunity to sample these flavours and many others. We also have a specialised ‘Edible India’ tour for those who want to delve deep into Indian cuisine. On this trip you'll start off in Delhi and travel around the country, tasting traditional dishes prepared by local people, avoiding big, flashy tourist restaurants as much as possible. There will also be lots of opportunity for sightseeing. If this sounds like something you'd enjoy, we'd love to chat!