Indian is a land of food connoisseurs. Each state, each district, each village prides itself in its own distinct cuisine and food customs. Each Indian city its culinary identity but these are the top 10 destinations that every gourmand must visit.
Delhi – Delhi is not only the capital of India, it is also the culinary capital of the country. A visit to old Delhi and the bylanes of Chandni Chowk is a foodie’s dream come true. From the incredible varieties of chaats and paranthas to butter chicken to sweets like jalebi, gajar ka halwa and kulfi – you will find enough to keep you busy.
Mumbai – The melting pot of Indian culture, Mumbai showcases the sheer variety of cultures through its numerous eateries and food joints. Do not miss out on the Pest of Parsi dishes (dhansak, kolmi no patio, sali margi), Gujarati cuisine (khaman dhokla, handvo, malpua, mohanthal) and Maharashtrian food (modak, sreekhand, missal pav, ragda patties) when in town.
Kochi – Kerala cuisine is unique and scrumptious. Kochi in particular is known for its sea food and for its pronounced use of indigenous spices. Try the fish stew, the idiyappam, the puttu-chutney and the Malabar porotta. For a delightful dessert try the ada pradhaman. And do not miss out on the experience of eating from a freshly cut banana leaf.
Lucknow – Call it the City of Nawabs or the City of Kebabs. No matter if you’re here for the rich history, colourful culture, or the delightful food Lucknow will have you coming back for more. Do not miss the Awadhi biryani, the galauti kebabs, the nahari kulchas, and sweet dishes like the ghajak and rewri and the signature meetha paan.
Kolkata – Kolkata is a world unto itself. The city will drive you crazy given the options available. Do not miss out on the traditional sorshe illish, kosha mangsho, bhetki maacher paturi, postor bora, and dhokar dalna. This is also India’s dessert capital. While you may want to try everything don’t miss the rosogolla, mishti doi, and sandesh. Or the kathi rolls, or phuchka, or jhaal chanachur.
Goa – Another trip to western India will take you to Goa – the land of indulgences and balmy beaches that keeps reminding you of colonial times. Take time out to visit the food shacks, sample local delights such as pork vindaloo, chicken xacuti, prawn balchao, sorpotel, fejoada, and bebinca – all served with some chilled feni.
Indore – Indore is the understated capital of street food in India. One visit to Sarafa Bazaar and Chappan Dukan will leave you drooling for days to come. Do not miss out the chaats, tikkis, kachauris, sabudana khichdi, dal bafla, egg benjo, and special sweet – bhutte ki kees, jalebis, malpuas, and moong ka halwa. Be ready to sample all these in small leaf platters straight out of open woks on the street, though.
Jaipur – What is a trip to India without some royal indulgence? Rajasthan is the place to be when it comes to the foods of medieval Indian kings. The first thing you must try in Jaipur is dal baati churma – three dishes in one. And then don’t forget to sample ghatte ki subzi, ker saangri, mirchi vadas, lal maans, mawa kachauris and top it off with a combination of ghewar and rabri.
Chennai – From high north to deep south our next stop is tradition rich Chennai steeped in its unique Tamil cuisine. Do not miss sampling the local specialties sambar, rasam, aviyal, chicken chettinad, parrupu payasam, chicken 65, rice varieties (pongal, coconut, lemon, tamarind, curd, sweet jaggery), Dindigul biryani apart from the ubiquitous idlis, dosa, vada, and uthappam.
Hyderabad – One more stop before we end our journey but this is a city very different from the others. As is Hyderabadi biryani different from the ones of Lucknow, Chennai, and Kolkata. Don’t miss visiting the old parts of the city or sampling mirchi ka saalan, paaya, boti kebab, malai korma or keema samosa.
When it comes to food a list such as this does not even start to do justice to the delights that small towns and even villages offer. Our country is vast and so is its food culture. This is merely a sample of all the delightful gastronomic experiences India has to offer.