List of Traditional Indian Foods you MUST try
One of the best things about India is the traditional Indian food, or even better the traditional Indian street food! There is a delicious array of tasty food to try and your tastebuds will not be disappointed. The dishes are packed full of spices and flavour like you have never tasted before. Food in India is at the heart of the culture and every meal seems to bring something different.
Traditional Indian food varies from region to region and so your tastebuds will never get bored.
*Warning: you may be feeling hungry by the end of this list or you may feel a sudden desire to book flights to India.
If you have just arrived in India here is a list of traditional Indian food and drink you need to try:
Gajar Ka Halwa
Dosas are thin pancakes made out of rice batter and you can have them plain with different chutneys to dip the dosa into or you can have a masala dosa which is stuffed with mashed potato and a tasty lentil sauce.
2. Chole Kulche
Chole is chickpeas and Kulcha is a type of leavened bread made with refined flour. If you happen to be in Old Delhi, Lotan Kulche Wala is a popular place to get this breakfast and the stall has been going for generations. At this stall, the flavour of their Chole Kulche was a sour sauce and chillies for a unique taste and would highly recommend it if you can get there before it is all gone!
3. Bedmi Puri
Bedmi Puri is a deep fried fluffy bread which is made of lentils and wheat flour and is served with potato curry and pickled vegetables.
4. Idly Sambar
Idly sambar is a common breakfast in Southern India and is made from a fermented rice cake and is served with coconut chutney and a sour tasting veggie stew.
A lot of people in India are vegetarian and so there are lots of delicious vegetarian curries on offer, including panner curries. Paneer is a type of cheese and is cut up into cubes and is used as a meat substitute. The cheese doesn't melt and holds its structure in the curry which makes it a perfect substitute for meat.
These ring-shaped snacks are made from lentil or flour and then deep fried. They resemble a doughnut but are not sweet. Vadas are usually served with a few different chutneys. Vadas are more commonly found in south India.
7. Mirchi Vada
Mirchi Vadas are big green chillies which are filled with a stuffing made from masala potato and then you guessed it, deep fried.
Samosas are a very common snack and are a common street food snack to grab on the go. The triangle snack is filled with potatoes, peas and onions, among other veggies and can be served with chutney or in a tray in a spicy sauce.
9. Rogan Josh
Rogan Josh is a curry usually made with lamb which can be found in a lot of restaurants. The curry is packed full of flavour from different spices and shallots and yoghurt.
10. Tandoori Chicken
If you have had tandoori chicken outside of India you know how delicious it is, but tandoori in India is on another level. It really is a delicacy. The marinade is made from various spices and yoghurt and then cooked at a high temperature in a tandoor which is a traditional oven.
This is a rice dish which is very tasty and aromatic and can be served with different meats. The rice is slow cooked and so the spices infuse and shouldn't be missed.
Thalis are a sample platter, Indian style. They are usually served on a round silver plate, with lots of different curries, chutneys with rice and bread. You never really know what you are going to get, but are usually quick, tasty and cheap meals.
Naan bread is a flatbread which is cooked at high temperature in a clay oven and is a perfect accompaniment to a hot curry. These were a food highlight during my trip and I have never found naan breads that match up.
Paratha is deep fried bread made from wheat flour which is usually stuffed. You can have the Paratha stuffed with various different fillings, but cottage cheese and cauliflower are the most common. Parathas can be dipped into a main dish or can be eaten as a snack with chutneys such as a tamarind sauce and a coriander sauce.
The chutneys that come with the bread/meal are worth their own heading, as they are so flavoursome.
16. Gajar Ka Halwa
Halwa is a Mughal era dessert made from semolina, saffron and sugar syrup. Gajar Ka Halwa is made from carrots and is very sweet and delicious. The desert is slowed cooked and is eaten particularly during festivals and special occasions.
17. Gulab Jamun
These Indian sweets have a bit of a doughnut texture to them but are actually made from milk solids which is reduced to a dough. Once made into balls, they are soaked in sugar syrup. If you have a sweet tooth you will be in heaven.
Kulfi in Indian ice-cream, which is made from sweetened milk and really is delicious. Kulfi is perfect to have after a hot curry or on a hot day.
Jalebi is another Indian sweet which is deep-fried wheat flour batter and always has the same unique shape. Once deep fried jalebi is soaked in sugar syrup.
20. Masala Chai
Tea prepared Indian style with milk and is then infused with a mix of spices. The level of sweetness seemed to vary but I will never forget my first sip of this tasty cuppa.
Lassi is a yoghurt drink/smoothie, which can come in lots of different flavours and they are traditionally served in clay cups. You can also get sweet lassi which is flavoured and they are supposed to help aid digestion.
Is Indian food healthy?
Authentic Indian food has both healthy and unhealthy dishes but generally Indian food is healthy, usually with lots of vegetables and spices, all of which all have health benefits. Choose vegetable based meals and try and cut back on the bread to reduce the carbs and calories.
When you travel around India you will quickly see that Indians do have sweet tooth and the desserts are very sugary, but it's all about moderation.
Is Indian food spicy?
Not all Indian food is spicy and there are lots of mild dishes to choose from if you do not like spicy food. Traditional Indian food contains a lot of spices but this does not make the dish spicy. It is when chillies are added that the dish becomes spicy.
I am not very good with spicy food at all and I usually come out in a red rash when I do eat spicy food. Before we left for India this was one of my main worries that there would only be spicy food but I always managed to find a mild dish.
Non spicy Indian food
In India there are lots of dishes to choose from if you don't like spicy food or if you are allergic to it. Tasty non spicy Indian food and dishes include dosas, aloo gobi, butter chicken, malai kofta, butter paneer and the delicious breads.
Generally, there is not much of a language barrier in India, so if you are concerned you could simply ask for 'no chillies' in your food.
If you are off to India, then check these out:
- Why to do a homestay in India
- How to deal with culture shock
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