India is one of the world’s top destinations for experiencing a delightful food journey, says guest blogger Pawan Kotiyal. Today he shares with us his top five places in India to experience the country’s diverse range of delectable cuisines, from Gujarat with its famous khaman dhokla to West Bengal, known for its spongy and sweet rosogullas.
With its extreme diversity of geographies, climate, cultures and occupations, the food of India forms a unique assortment of all these diversities. Ranging from subtle to spicy to sweet and tangy, you will find all favours creating an exceptional balance on an Indian food platter. Here are top five destinations that should be included in itineraries of every foodie in India.
Gujarat and the famous Khaman Dhokla
Known for its delectable and mouth-watering vegetarian cuisine, Gujarat is heaven for foodies. With a perfect balance of taste and textures, cuisine of Gujarat is a gastronome’s delight. Where at one end, the food of central Gujarat is a perfect equilibrium of sweet and spices, on the other hand, the dishes of Saurashtrian and Kathiawadi regions are rich with strong flavours of chillies, onions and garlic. From gorging onto its famous khaman dhokla and khandvi to relishing the taste of fried Gujarati farsans like khakra and faafda to devouring on its heavenly delicious aam ras, srikhand and basundi – it is hard to beat the taste of Gujarat. A trip to Gujarat is incomplete without savouring its famous Guajarati thali that is a perfect combination of farsans ,vegetables, dal, rice and a dessert. With such an immense variety and an extensive variation in its food, Gujarat takes the topmost position on a gourmand’s list.
Rajasthan … if you’ve got those chatpata taste buds!
The state of Rajasthan is as colourful in its food as it is in its costumes. Known for its spicy curries and hot chutneys, gorging on the cuisine of Rajasthan is an ultimate pleasure for foodies having those chatpata taste buds. Being located in a desert region where there is a scarcity of water, you will find an extensive use of buttermilk, milk, cream and curd in food preparations of Rajasthan. From its world famous daal bati to ultimate spicy mirchi bada to mouth-watering gatte ki subzi and tangy kair sangri ka saag – the list of Rajasthani dishes is endless. To balance that rich spice, desserts take a special place on a Rajasthani food platter with each town serving its own specialty; while Jodhpur is famous for its delicious mawa kachoris, Pushkar is known for its divine malpuas and Jaipur for its irresistible ghevars. Garlic chutney, a variety of sweet and tangy pickles and a hot spicy papad completes a typical traditional Rajasthani thali. Cuisine of Rajasthan, though is primarily a vegetarian’s delight, also has few delectable preparations for a non-vegetarian. Laal maans, bhuna kukda and banjari gosht are some unmissable dishes in Rajasthan for meat lovers.
West Bengal … got a sweet tooth?
Spongy rosogullas, oozing out with an extreme amount of sweetness, is one of the first things which crosses our minds when we think about West Bengal, but there is so much more to its cuisine. Although the food of West Bengal is rich on seafood such as fish and prawns, it also maintains a perfect balance on use of lentils and vegetables. Mostly known for its subtle flavours which are a perfect blend of sweet and spices, cuisine of West Bengal is even savoured by many non-Bengalis across the country. Use of panch phoron (five special spices) gives Bengali dishes a unique lovely flavour and aroma. From its traditional mildly spiced machher jhol to ethereal aromatic machher paturi to pungent shorshe maach and distinctly flavoured daab chingri – foodies can go on satiating their taste buds in West Bengal. Cuisine of West Bengal is incomplete without a mention of its sweet delights that includes but are not limited to rosogullas, cham cham, sandesh, rasmalai – the list goes on and on.
Delhi … Dahi Bhalle Chaat please!
Delhi is the quintessential hub for food lovers and gastronomes. The food of Delhi has been greatly influenced by various settlements that made Delhi their home over the ages. As such, there is no distinctive cuisine of Delhi but yes, there are some areas in Delhi which are a must visit for experiencing an indescribable culinary experience; Chandni Chowk is one of those areas. Ranging from the well-known paranthas of the Paranthe Wali Gali to delicious chhole bhature of Paharganj to aromatic biryani and nihari of Karim’s near Jama Masjid – you cannot miss these specialties when you are in Delhi. The mouth-watering street food of Delhi is also something that requires a special mention. Daulat ki chaat, Nataraj’s dahi bhalle, Giani’s rabdi faluda, Dilli Haat’s momos and Sarojini Market’s piping hot pakodas; are truly a gourmet’s delight.
Maharashtra … street food central!
Maharashtra is blessed with varied landscapes ranging from Konkan in the west to Vidarbha in the east to Deccan Plateau in the south. The cuisine of Maharashtra also adopts different flavours as one moves from one region to another. Where at one end, seafood flavoured with mild spices and coconut milk and paste dominates the cuisine of Konkan region, the cuisine of Vidarbha is a nice blend of spices, powdered coconut and gram flour used in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Kokam, tamarind and jaggery are also extensively used in Maharashtrian cuisine. Some of the must-try dishes in Maharashtra include bombil (Bombay Duck) and pachadi (uniquely flavoured brinjals cooked with raw mangoes, jaggery and coconut). How can one forget the famous street food of Maharashtra – bhelpuri, vada pav, and pav bhaji? For those with a sweet tooth, puran poli and modaks are a must try when in Maharashtra.
Pawan Kotiyal is an avid traveller, who likes to trudge to far-flung and lesser-explored destinations in India. Trekking and photography keep him busy while he is out exploring unknown destinations. He also likes to write about his travelling experience in order to help those with similar interests in adventure, trekking, and photography.