India is a vast country with a mix of diverse cultures. Every Indian state has its own language, dialects, traditions, and festivals. It comes as no surprise then that the food consumed in one state is different from that consumed in another.
Indian food is influenced by religious beliefs and cultural choices. For instance, Indians do not consume beef but rather other meats, and a lot of seafood.
This beautiful country enthralls all visitors, with colorful sights, and spicy food. Here’s a list of Indian foods you must taste when you visit.
Drool Over Scrumptious Street Food
From the beaches of Mumbai to the streets of Delhi, you’ll be able to gorge on a variety of mouthwatering street food.
A samosa is a fried or baked pastry filled with potatoes, onions, and peas served with spicy and/or sweet chutney. They taste just as good with tomato ketchup. You can also find chicken and ground lamb samosas.
Momos are native to Nepal and Tibet and are a version of dimsums. They are staples in the eastern states of India and have become popular in other states as well. They are usually served with red fiery chutney.
Panipuri is a preferred mouth-size street snack in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. In India, panipuri is also known as phuchka, gol gappa, bataashe, or gup chup, depending on the state. ‘Puri’ refers to the round, crisp, and hollow bread that is deep fried. Vendors fill it with a mixture of spiced boiled potatoes, chickpeas, onion, and chilies. It is then topped with tamarind chutney and immersed in flavored water or ‘pani’. Pop it straight into your mouth and relish a dozen flavors at once.
Dosas, idlis, uttapams, and vadas all hail from the southern states of India, but are common in Indian food. These consist of fermented rice batter, served with sambar, a spiced lentil curry, and chutney.
Pav bhaji can be part of a full meal or stand alone as a snack. This potato-based vegetable curry comes with a buttered bread called pav. The dish originated in Mumbai and traces back to the 1850s. It has become popular in most metro cities in India, especially in the western states of Gujarat and Karnataka. Although, some upscale restaurants have it on menu, it’s amazing to witness its making at a street stall.
Dig into Some Flavorsome Indian Foods
Apart from lip-smacking street food, there are other dishes that you just have to try while you’re touring India.
Biryani is a meat and rice dish with a horde of spices and condiments added to it. These range from pepper, onions and garlic to mace, nutmeg, and mint leaves. This Indian food has culinary influences from Mughlai, Awadhi, and Hyderabadi cuisines.
Rogan josh is a signature lamb dish of the state of Jammu and Kashmir that has origins in Persian culture. Because of local constraints, it’s common to cook it with goat instead of lamb. This rich gravy consists of browned onions, garlic, and aromatic spices. Its characteristic red color comes from dried red chilies and sometimes, from the tomatoes used. The Brahmin or Hindu version of the dish is devoid of garlic and onions, and may include yogurt.
Vindaloo is a fiery spicy dish, popular in the state of Goa. The dish has evolved from the Portuguese pork dish ‘carne de vinha d’alhos’. Indians add vinegar where Portuguese add red wine. They also include local spices such as Kashmiri chilies.
Mutter paneer is a vegetarian dish common in North India. It consists of cottage cheese and peas cooked in a mild-spiced tomato gravy. Palak paneer, its spinach gravy is just as popular. Both are best served with naan bread and rice.
There is more to Indian food that the few dishes served in Western countries. The only way to understand Indian culinary diversity is to try the most dishes as possible. Don’t worry too much about the spices; Indian food adapts to all tastes and cultures.
To complete your foodie tour of Indian food, take your pick from the many classic desserts available. If the fascinating sights don’t entice you to visit India again, the food definitely will!
Peter Abrams is a writer and traveler who writes here on behalf of Holidayiq.