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A Foodie’s Guide To India’s Most Delicious Destinations

With such a diverse range of climates, traditions and cooking techniques to choose from, Indian food is some of best you will ever eat. Elaborate or simple, Indian hospitality will always make sure you leave with a fully belly, forever memories and plans to come back soon.

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Updated:January 17, 2019, 3:31 PM IST
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A Foodie’s Guide To India’s Most Delicious Destinations
Mutton Stew and Iddi appam. (Image: Instagram)
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Nuance, layers and more flavours than you can imagine, Indian food is definitely more than spices and curry. Its influences come from its diverse geographical topography, locally available produce as well as its religious and cultural traditions.

The world is both fascinated and mesmerised with everything from the humble Khichdi to elaborate Nalli Nihari, Dum Biryani and Raan and street eats like Chaat and Puchka. Soul stirring and inspirational, here is a quick guide to eating well wherever you travel in India.

Lamb Raan

lamb raan

Lamb Raan - leg of lamb marinated in Indian spices (Pic Courtesy: Instagram)

North
At the very crown of the subcontinent - the North India is rugged - dotted with snow-capped mountain ranges and deserts. This is reflected in its foods too - spices to lend depth of flavour and heat, smoked and slow cooked meats and plenty of ghee laden fried sweets. While you’ve probably heard of Chicken tikka masala and samosas, there is plenty to appreciate in simple beans and rice staples like Rajma or Chole-chawal.

Chole-chawal

chole-chawal

Chole -chawal- Simple beans and rice staple. (Pic Courtesy: Instagram)

Milk in all its forms is also popular in the North and lends itself perfectly to everything from thick gravies to deliciously smooth, cold lassi.

Chaat

Chaat

Chaat. (Pic courtesy: Instagram)

But, if you’re ever in Delhi don’t trying out the chaat. From Aloo tikki and Puris to Paapdi chaat, Golgappe and Dahi Bhalla - you’ll be hard pressed to pick a favourite.

North-East

Still at the top of the country, the further North-East you travel, the more surprised you will be at how vastly different the food looks and tastes. Against the backdrop of some unique tribal culture, the food here is deceptively simple to look at but resplendent in its representation of the local tastes. Mostly meat-based and often heavily favouring ingredients like Bhut Jholokia (Naga Chillie), Bamboo shoots and the sour Ou Tenga or Elephant Apple, every dish is delicious. Served piping hot, Laksa features strings of rice noodles, your choice for seafood or meat and a blend of coconut milk, tamarind and spices. Popular with locals and travellers alike, you can’t leave without trying this very satisfying broth.

Bhut Jholokia, Naga Chillie or Ghost Pepper

Bhut Jholokia, Naga Chillie or Ghost Pepper

Bhut Jholokia, Naga Chillie or Ghost Pepper. (Pic Courtesy: Instagram)

While there aren’t as many sweet treats here, the cuisine of the North East masters the subtle art of hearty, flavourful broths and steaming, smoking meat and fish, that will leave you spellbound and coming back for more.

Seafood Laksa

seafood laksa

Seafood Laksa - North East masters the subtle art of hearty, flavourful broths. (Pic Courtesy: Instagram)

East
While both meats and vegetables dominate the table, food preparations are scrumptious but fuss-free. Rice, Mustard oil and the ever popular Panch phoran - a five-seed-blend of equal parts cumin, fennel, nigella, fenugreek and mustard seeds are everywhere. Now you know why Bengali food has such a distinguishable aroma!

Machhar Jhol

macchar jhol

Machhar Jhol - fish curry in a tomato gravy. (Pic courtesy: Instagram)

While the interiors favour delicious versions of meat-filled momos and Thukpa (a clear soup), the coast is markedly different. You will want to fall asleep after a leisurely lunch of Aloo Poshto (potatoes with poppy seeds) and Machhar Jhol (fish curry in a tomato gravy). Food and the eating of it take on a whole new meaning in this part of the country.

Rasgulla

rasgulla

Rasgulla, a sweet treat. (Pic courtesy: Instagram)

With a wide array of milk and sweet treats, it's no wonder that East is where you go if you have a serious sweet tooth. You learn quickly that Sandesh, Jamun, Rasgollas, Chom Chom and Misti Doi are not singular sweets but broad categories filled with diverse flavours and different additions depending on where you try them.

South
From the verdant land of filter coffee and coconuts, pepper and rice comes food that is best enjoyed in person. While the backwaters of Kerala call to your mind and spirit, the unpretentious people that prepare these inexpensive eats are what you mustn’t miss.

Idli, Vada with Coconut Chutney

idli, vada with coconut chutney

Idli, Vada with Coconut Chutney - flavours of South India. (Pic Courtesy: Instagram)

Awaken your senses with the delicious aromas of Sambhar, Rasam and fresh coconut chutney while travel to Coorg for the Fish gassi (coconut based fish curry) and Pepper chicken. Lentils of every kind make their way into soupy curries and combinations like Bisi Bele Bath which literally means hot lentil rice and even into sweets like payasam and melt-in-your-mouth Mysurpa.

Mutton Stew and Iddi Appam

Mutton Stew & Iddi appam

Mutton Stew and Iddi Appam - a vegetarian pick. (Pic Courtesy: Instagram)

With so much vegetarian fare to pick from like aviyal, poriyal, pachady and olan, it is still not uncommon to find a great Mutton stew with Idi Appams on the table for breakfast.

West

The real flavours of Mumbai are not in its restaurants. It’s in the homes of the people and the street food. Think fiery Vada or Missal pav, butter-laden Pao Bhaji, piping hot Ragda pattice and all the khiri and kebabs you can eat. Step into the city around festive times and you will taste sweet treats like delicious coconut and jaggery filled modaks or sugary sweet Petha during the Urs.

Fried and Steamed Modaks

Fried and Steamed Modaks

Fried and Steamed Modaks - festive sweet. (Pic courtesy: Instagram)

While we’ve talked a lot about the vegetarian fare in the region, East Indians specialty Vindhaloos and Fugiyas are a must mention along with Mughlai specials like Mutton Kheema, Haleem and the ever-popular Chicken/Mutton Biryani. Follow the Western coastline to Goa and you’ll find meats are cooked with plenty of vinegar, onions and garlic, while the seafood curries feature subtle coconut gravies. Tuck into thick Rechado suffed crab and Fried Mackerels and end your meals with chilled Feni or sweets like Dodol and Bibinca. Set against pristine soft sand beaches, Goa promises inexpensive stay, long, relaxing meals and beaches with something for everyone.

Also, along the coast is colourful Gujarat. Food here is largely vegetarian but never boring. With arguably the largest line-up of unique snacks you’ll see anywhere - Dhokla, Khaman, Faffda and Tepla – you’ll always have options for when you feel peckish through the day.

gujarati dish
A mixed vegetable and tuber dish of Gujarat. (Pic courtesy: Instagram)

Winter is a special time for the warming, seasonal Surti Undhyu. A mixed vegetable and tuber dish – you’ll remember it for its earthy flavours and the fact that it’s originally cooked in an inverted clay pot.

With such a diverse range of climates, traditions and cooking techniques to choose from, Indian food is some of best you will ever eat. Elaborate or simple, Indian hospitality will always make sure you leave with a fully belly, forever memories and plans to come back soon.

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