A true traveler can never gain in-depth knowledge about the culture and tradition of any place if he fails to taste its native food. Real foodies are spoilt for choice in a country as vast as India with a bragging right on rich food culture. From the truly spicy and rich food to the most sugary and bland dishes, there is something for each one of you. Whichever part of India you travel to, the place is sure to greet you with some delicious local cuisine; a must try. And, to make your selection a bit easier, here’s a list of the 10 most popular foods in India you must definitely try.
1. Neer Dosa – Karnataka
Savored by all South Indians, Neer Dosa is a contradiction to its more popular cousin – the ghee dripping, papery dosa served with simmering Sambhar. Neer Dosa is white colored, soft and sweet to taste crêpe that can be served as part of the main meal or taken as snacks at tea time. It tastes best when complemented with chilly chutney, coconut chutney or tomato chutney.
2. North Indian Thali (Meal) – North India
If your aim is to savor traditional North Indian food, the best option is to go for a Thali. You can choose to have a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian thali. A vegetarian thali generally includes a dal, two sabzi’s, salad, raita, roti, rice, and a sweet. The non-veg thali will include non-veg dishes, along with the same raita, roti, rice, and sweet. The specialty of a thali is that it best represents the common way of life in north India.
3. Undhiyu – Gujarat
A traditional dish from the state of Gujarat, Undhiyu derives its name from two words, Matlu, meaning earthen pot, and Undhu, meaning upside down. Even today most restaurants that follow the traditional recipe, cook this rather spicy dish in an earthen pot buried upside down and heated from above. It consists of a seasonal mix of about 26 different vegetables and specially prepared crisp dumplings called muthia.
Jalebi may not particularly be native to India but one can definitely enjoy this rich dessert at many corners across the country, particularly the north. It is prepared by deep frying maida (wheat flour) in a pretzel shape, dipped in sugary syrup and served hot. In different parts of India, one can find different varieties of jalebi, and while it is a sweet delicacy in most parts of the country, it can also be enjoyed with Mirchi (green chili) in the state of Rajasthan.
5. Hyderabad Biryani – Andhra Pradesh
Hyderabadi biryani is a non-vegetarian rice dish and a gift of the Mughals to the foods in India. And, even when it is served in almost all parts of the country, nothing can come close to one prepared in old Hyderabad (Sikandrabad). It consists of basmati rice and lamb meat along with vegetables, yogurt, dry fruit, and plenty of Indian Spices. Traditionally, the best biryani is prepared in earthen pots by layering rice and vegetables, alternately.
6. Amritsari Macchi (Fish)
Macchi (pronounced much-chi) is the Indian word for fish. Although Bengal is known for fish and dishes, Amritsari Macchi or the ‘Fish of Amritsar’ is a representative Punjabi dish unique in its own way. The Amritsari Macchi, in particular, occupies a special place. It consists of boneless fish, dipped in orange-red sauce, which may not seem to be appealing but after tasting it one realizes that there isn’t anything so ‘fishy’ tasty anywhere around the world.
7. Kulfi Falooda – Delhi
Most popular as the traditional ice-cream of India, Kulfi is a frozen dairy dessert savored by most people, especially during the summer months. Kulfi is available in a variety of flavors – mango, strawberry, vanilla, kesar, and others. Sometimes they are also prepared with fresh fruit chunks. Falooda, on the other hand, is sweet flavored thick syrup with vermicelli. The famous Roshan ki Kulfi in Karol Bagh, Delhi serves the two together and the taste is unforgettable.
8. Sandesh – West Bengal
Bengal is not known for its fishes alone; it is also the home of all things sweet. Sandesh is Bengali sweet made with milk and sugar but prepared in a manner which cannot be replicated by anyone else in any part of the country. In the state of West Bengal, it is a common household name, and people prepare several recipes of the same sweet. While the most basic recipe includes mashing paneer/chhanna (cheese) to make chhana balls, which is dip in sugary syrup, the more elaborate form consists of coating the chhana ball with khoya, or blending it with coconut kheer. Then these balls are given several shapes, and finally, dip them in colored syrup.
9. Gol Gappa – Pani Puri
Golgappas are small crisp wheat or semolina balls are filled with sweet and tangy water. In different parts of the country they are called by different names. While in the north they are called Glgappas, in Maharashtra they are called panipuri (puri means filled with water), and in Bengal, people call them phuchkas. Golgappas are definitely counted among’st the most famous foods in India.
10. Pandi Curry – Coorg
The spicy pork curry or more famously known as the Kodava Pandi Curry is native to the Kodavas or the Coorgis from the state of Karnataka. In the olden days, tribal men used to hunt birds, wild deer, and boar and then preserved their meat in local ingredients. Over time hunting has abated but the love for meat still remains and this is truly visible in the pandi curry they make. Pork is first marinated in plenty of chilly and tamarind and then served in curry, with rice and roti.