Top 5 Alternative Cuisines to Enjoy Whilst In India
Contributed by Michael Truby
If you’re travelling through India it’s a great opportunity to sample the exquisite range of local cuisine on offer. The experience of authentic Indian food will be one you’ll treasure forever, and you could even attempt to create some of the delights you’ll sample for your family back home.
Maharashtra is an area of western India popular with travellers due to attractions such as the Ajanta Caves and Kailash Temple. The cuisine in this region has something suitable for everyone as it includes dishes ranging from very mild to hot and spicy. The key ingredients in Maharashtrian cuisine consist of wheat, rice, fruit and lentils.
While you’re in the region make sure you try the famous Shrikhand, a delicious dessert dish made from strained yogurt. The drink panna is a local delicacy and is made from raw mango; it’s a great thirst quencher in the Indian summer.
2) Bengali Cuisine
Bengali cuisine is famous for its mouth-watering selection of sweets and desserts made from cottage cheese. Popular local confectionery includes Mishti Doi (sweetened curd) and Patali gur confectionery (date palm jaggery), both of which are mouth-watering.
Mustard oil is a popular cooking medium in Bengal, and along with turmeric, ginger, and coconut it is prevalent in some form in a large number of dishes. The Karachi Biryani is one of the most popular delicacies; it is widely used at the weddings of wealthy residents and is cooked in a sealed pot containing rice, raw mutton, and spices for several hours. Saffron is used to add flavour, contributing to the high cost of the dish.
3) Karnataka Cuisine
Karnataka is situated in south west India and includes the Bangalore region, an area popular with tourists due to its historical sights and alternative therapies.
Karnataka cuisine is heavily influenced by neighbouring states including Maharashtra and Goa. Coconut is regularly used in a variety of dishes from seafood delicacies to curries. Spicy pork curries are popular in the inland Kodagu district, so make sure you try a delicious pig curry. Cooked in aromatic spices this is a taste sensation you’ll want to re-create for your friends back home.
Meals are typically served on a banana leaf, ensuring an authentic meal you’ll never forget. If you’re feeling more adventurous other popular local dishes include bisi bele bath (made from lentils, rice, vegetables, and spice), jolada rotti (a type of unleavened bread), and akki rotti (a sort of rice pancake). With so many wonderful local choices, try finding restaurant deals in Bangalore so you can sample as many as possible without it costing a fortune!
Restaurants in Punjab use large quantities of ghee, clarified butter, to add a dreamy texture to dishes. The most popular of these dishes is Butter Chicken, but it tastes nothing like the ones you’ll find back at home. Kadhai dishes are also popular, enabling you to enjoy a taste of authentic India.
Tandoor based food is another key concept in Punjabi cuisine. Meat (normally chicken), is marinated in yogurt and spices such as cumin, ginger, garlic, and garam masala, and then cooked in an earthen oven – called a tandoor. These dishes can be made as spicy or mild as people like, by the addition of red and green chili peppers. Again, this is a universally popular Indian dish, but the authentic taste found in the Punjab area will amaze you.
5) Hyderabadi Cuisine
Hyderabadi cuisine is famed for the chefs’ careful selection of high quality ingredients. By far the most famous creation of the area is the Hyderabadi Biryani which has become a worldwide delicacy. Although you can try this dish at almost any Indian restaurant in the world, nothing beats the taste of when it’s cooked locally. Make sure you don’t leave the region until you’ve tried this delicious delicacy.
As well as the biryani, Hyderabadi cuisine includes exciting dishes like baghara baingain (eggplant curry), Haleem (a seasonal dish somewhere between a meat stew and porridge), and lukhmi (similar to a samosa, though it is square and stuffed with mutton mince). If you’re in the region, try to go to a buffet dinner in Hyderabad and sample as many of these dishes as you can!
Indian cuisine excites the senses, delights the palate, and creates unique flavour combinations you just won’t see anywhere else. Make your trip across India a gastronomical journey and explore Indian food as it’s meant to taste.