One cannot compile a list of the greatest cuisines on earth without talking about India’s. For those who have not ventured to this vast and culturally rich nation, it is easy to picture Indian cuisine as purely curry-based dishes. To explore its regions, however, is to be blown away by the sheer variety of delicious food that can be found at streetside stalls, quaint cafes, and high end restaurants. Here are our top 5 flavours to try when visiting India!
The greatest divide between flavours and cooking styles in India sits between the North and South of the country. Due to its proximity to Central Asian nations, Northern India has been deeply influenced by traditional Muslim cooking techniques. Nowhere is this more evident than in the delicious dishes cooked in tandoori ovens.
What makes a Tandoor remarkable is the versatility with which it can be used. Expect succulent meats skewered onto kebabs, fresh vegetables seasoned with hearty spices and warm fluffy chapati, baked to perfection. A more unique tandoori dish that visitors ought to try is tandoori fruit chaat. Sweet fruits such as apple, pineapple and bell pepper are marinated in a blend of spices and then grilled in the tandoori oven.
While Northern India’s flavours are dominated by hearty curries and tandoori dishes, Southern India’s cuisine is much lighter and more aromatic. The flavours are elegant and delicate, perhaps due to their preferred cooking method: steaming.
Where Northern Indian dishes use meat, Southern India’s is nearly entirely vegetarian. One of the best introductions to the flavours of the south is by ordering Thali. Thali is served on a large plate -or sometimes a traditional banana leaf- with a pile of steamed rice at its centre. It is surrounded by a series of small bowls, each containing spiced vegetables, dahl, curries and curds. The dish is traditionally eaten with the hands.
When wandering the busy and narrow streets of Delhi, Mumbai or any of India’s vibrant and sprawling cities, it is easy to work up an appetite. India’s urban environments offer so much to see and experience that it can be difficult to find time for a sit down meal. Enter India’s wide selection of delicious snacks and light bites to keep you going on long days of exploring!
When it comes to deciding upon a snack,there are plenty of options! , Above all, expect rich and hearty pastries; beautifully seasoned with the spices of the region. A particular highlight is Pani Puri – a quirky snack which gives donuts a savoury twist!
The Puri are small hollow balls of dough. After taking one and breaking a hole in the top, you’re then free to fill it with delicious Pani – spiced potatoes, tamarind sauce and chilis. Be sure to eat this delicious mouthful quickly before the crispy dough becomes soggy!
No trip to India is complete without sampling one of its most delicious exports, the second most consumed beverage on the planet (after water), tea! Introduced to the country in the 1800s, tea has gone on to become a staple morning, noon and night for most Indians.
There are four main regions in which tea is grown, and are must visits for any tea lover. Assam is found in the north eastern corner of the country and is the largest tea growing region in the world. Here you will find the widest range in tea quality; from lower-end leaves for blending to the most premium, flavoursome offerings.
The Darjeeling region,nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, produces roughly 1% of India’s tea. That 1%, however, is arguably the finest tea in the world. Its flavour is light and floral so, to truly appreciate the ‘champagne of tea’, it should be enjoyed without milk or sugar.
For many, the phrase ‘Indian food’ will evoke the taste of warm spices and savoury curries, but the nation has a wide selection of sweets and desserts, flavoursome enough to rival those of France or Italy.
The most famous of Indian deserts is Kheer, a rice pudding like dish seasoned with cardamom, saffron, cashews and pistachios, to create a wonderfully aromatic dish for anyone with a sweet tooth. You are likely to find differing, but equally delicious, variants of this dish all over the country.
Other deserts make full use of the fruit that grows in abundance across the country. Aam Shrikhand is a flavoursome dish with a surprisingly simple recipe. , It combines fresh yoghurt, saffron and ripe mangoes to form a perfect dessert for a sunny afternoon.
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