13 Must try traditional Dishes in India
India is a diverse land that beholds an essence for every passion that sets foot on it. But there is something that truly culminates the diversity in a way that evokes each of the senses. A perfect blend of culture, tradition, seasons, festivals and the regions’ best produce, all served in a plate in front of you. Food is a must have bullet in every traveller’s list, for the sole reason that it varies from region to region. Which is why these traditional specialities must make the bullets of your food list.
1. Aam Panna
Beat the heat with a shot of Aam Panna, which is a drink that amalgamates the flavours of raw mangoes, sugar, mint and an assortment of spices. Originated as ‘Kairi Panha’ in western India, this light drink is now a speciality almost everywhere in Northern and Western regions of India
One of the two ‘oil-less’ wonders of Indian food, Dhokla is traditional Gujarati recipe made with fermented rice and split chickpeas batter. The batter is steamed and then served in cubes of yellow or white with a savoury chutney. This delicacy is usually served for breakfast and snack. ‘Khandvi’ and ‘Khaman’ are two other members of the dhokla family that demand special mention.
Similar to a crepe or a pancake in appearance, this breakfast delicacy is made from a rice and black gram batter. Dosa is a traditional South Indian dish served with ‘sambar’ and multiple chutneys, the most popular being the coconut chutney. The dish has evolved over time blending with an array of flavours and stuffing which could put you in a dilemma. So for your first time, keep it simple and plain with a tinge of ghee.
A flattened round ball made of fine flour and gram flour, either served plain (Bedai) or with a stuffing. A bite of this snack initially gives you a tame flavour of the crust and lets the stuffing inside work their flavours on your palate. ‘Pyaaj kachori’ (onion stuffing) and ‘Mawa kachori’ (deep fried dried fruits stuffing) are two types of kachoris that are a special delicacy found only in Rajasthan.
Crisp at the ends, fluffy at the centre, Appam is a type of pancake made with fermented rice batter and a tinge of sweetness of coconut milk. The dish is a traditional classic accompanied by a regional meat curry or vegetarian stew and is most frequently had for any meal in Kerala.
6. Dal baati churma
This generous dish from Rajasthan is a combination of dal (lentils), baati (hard bread) baked in a traditional tandoor oven, and churma (ground wheat) cooked with sugar and ‘ghee’. A perfect blend of sweet and savoury in one meal, it is sure to fill your stomach and make you feel at home.
7. Rogan Josh or Rogan ghosht (lamb)
One of the most delicious curries in India, Rogan josh is lamb or goat meat simmered in gravy flavoured with aromatic spices, ginger, garlic, onions and yoghurt. An authentic Kashmiri dish that is an integral part of the ‘wazwan’ (Kashmiri thalli), this gravy is sure to make you feel rich on flavours and royal.
8. Sarson da saag te makki di roti
Contradictory to the difficulty the pronunciation might cause, this quintessential Punjabi dish is comforting and will transport you directly into the fields of Punjab. The dish is made of mustard leaves vegetable (sarson) and corn bread (makki ki roti) and is complimented by pickle and some generous butter.
9. Smoked Pork
Pork smoked in a traditional way is a speciality in Nagaland. Perfectly cooked with crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, the pork is mixed with other ingredients to create a variety of special dishes in local flavours.
10. Bhapa Ilish
A traditional Bengali fish curry made from hilsa (fish) sautéed in a ground paste of mustard flavoured with chillies, black pepper and cumin. This dish is famous for the perfect balance in flavours and is served with steamed rice to make a wholesome meal.
11. Gajar ka Halwa
A unique dessert amongst the Indian desserts, this North Indian carrot based dessert pudding is made by slow cooking finely grated carrots, milk, sugar, water and ghee. This dish is a must on the menu of almost every restaurant, wedding, festival or just to make any other day a celebration.
Also known as ‘traditional Indian Ice cream’, kulfi is prepared by slow cooking flavoured sweetened milk that causes the sugar to caramelise. You will find a kulfi stall in almost every food street serving you the best of the flavours in a matka (mud pot) or frozen on a stick. For the first time, try the simple and the best of all flavours, ‘Malai Kulfi’
Chewing paan, which is areca nut wrapped in betel leaf, to freshen the palate after a meal has been a custom that is prevalent in India for more than a thousand years. The nut and the leaf remains the traditional and evergreen flavour, but with time has come up much more flavours and some even customized to your taste.
An expedition in search of food is sure to be one worth reminiscing. The experience takes you to places and creates unexpected rendezvous with people. India has much more food experiences to offer with its cuisines that varies state to state and flavours that vary street to street.