One of India’s most enticing draws is its rich and varied cuisine. But while there are some country-wide staples, each state and region has something different to offer, so choosing where to visit can be tricky. Below are five of the best food destinations in India. Of course, in such an enormous country, there are far more places than can fit onto one short list! These are just a few to get you started…
What to Eat: Dal Bati Churma
Jaipur is considered by many to be one of the best food cities in the world, not just in India. The Pink City was once the home of the Rajputs, the warrior princes, and the local cuisine still reflects that. Rajput cooking involves a lot of game meats, either chargrilled, or slow-cooked. Laal maas is one of the most iconic local dishes; a mutton or goat curry in a spicy curd-based sauce. You can’t miss Rajasthan’s signature dish, Dal Baati Churma. Baati is a kind of hard, round bread dipped in ghee, which is served with dal (lentil curry) and churma (a sweet dessert).
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
What to Eat: Chicken 65
The spicy, deep-fried chicken snack known as Chicken 65 was responsible for landing Chennai a spot on National Geographic’s Top Ten Food Cities. The dish originated at Buhari Hotel and it’s thought that the name comes from the number of chillies used to make it. But Chennai has a lot more to offer than this fiery chicken snack. The city is the cultural capital of southern India and the centre of its world-famous cuisine, so get exploring (and eating) to discover it all!
What to Eat: Biryani
Most of the local cuisine in Hyderabad revolves around meat and rice. Although biryani is popular across India, the Hyderabadi dum biryani is one of its more famous manifestations and should not be missed. Beyond that, be sure to try luqmi – Hyderabad’s take on a mutton samosa – and haleem, a meat and lentil stew made with ground wheat.
Kolkata, West Bengal
What to Eat: Shorshe Ilish
Kolkata is known for its sweets and seafood, as well as the typical cuisine of Northeast India. Don’t miss shorshe ilish, river fish cooked in a mustard sauce, which is one of the most iconic dishes of West Bengal. As for dessert, you have too many options to count! Visit the legendary sweet shops of the city in search of fresh mishti doi (a sweet yoghurt), sondesh (a dessert made of milk and sugar), and rasgullas (cottage cheese and semolina balls dipped in a sugary syrup). It’s a sweet lover’s paradise!
What to Eat: Kulchas
Amritsar is a bit of a lesser-known foodie hotspot, but it’s definitely one of the culinary capitals of India. Known for its rich, buttery flavours, Punjabi cuisine is prevalent in Amritsar – don’t miss the Amritsari butter chicken, or sarson da saag, a creamy spinach dish made with mustard leaves.
With so many important Sikh temples dotting the city, there’s also lots of Sikh cuisine. Visit the Golden Temple for Langar ka Prasad, where the volunteers cook up a free daily feast for the devotees on an epic scale. Kulchas are one of the local staples, a kind of bread baked in a tandoor. They can be served stuffed with veggies or spiced and smothered in melted butter – and they’re a must-try in Punjab.
So, there you have five top foodie destinations in India. But like I said, this is far from all. There are amazing dishes to discover all over the country, and regional specialities in each state. Be sure to explore as much of the local cuisine as possible when you visit.
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