Community & Acquisition Manager @ Urban Adventures. Marketing geek, travelling kiwi, train lover, pinot noir expert, and authentic food seeker.
When you think of India, you think of food. And when you think of Indian food, you think of curry – or the bland butter chicken found in food courts around the world. But like most countries you visit, there is so much more to Indian cuisine than makes it to a food court near you. Each destination has an incredible array of delicious local treats that you won’t find anywhere else. So let’s get right to the good stuff with a hit list of the top 6 foods you have to try in India….and where to try them!
Thali means “plate” in Hindi and it’s the perfect way to get a taste of different dishes all on one round plate. Many restaurants even have endless refills, so bring your stretchy pants! Each section of the dish is filled with a selection of roti, vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries, a chili dish, yogurt curd, rice, and a sweet. Locals know how to skip the knife and fork, and use the bread as a spoon to scoop up each item.
Where to try it: The most authentic spot for thali is the Natraj Hotel Dining Hall in Udaipur. Don’t let the name “hotel dining hall” fool you – this spot is very local. That means, no tourists, no English-speaking waiters – but hey, that’s totally part of the fun!
Golgappas can only be described as a single bite of deliciousness. Also known as Panipuri, this Indian street snack is a hit with the locals. It’s a round, fried crisp filled to the brim with flavoured water, tamarind chutney, chaat masala, potato, onion, and chickpeas. The trick is to eat this snack in one mouthful and that’s what makes it the perfect quick street snack.
Where to try: We’ll admit street food in India can be overwhelming, so the best way to navigate around the upset tummy stops to the tastiest treats is with a local on our Delhi Food Walk.
Most people would tell you to stay away from train food, but there is an exception to the rule. The “Meals on Wheels” section on the Indian intercity trains is a must! With curry, bread, a sweet, juice, and hot beverage, it’s the perfect meal for your Darjeeling Limited style adventures. The trick to avoiding tummy troubles is to look for food that is hygienically sealed, especially when it comes to drinks and always go for the vegetarian option!
Where to try: Indian trains are the best way to see the Indian countryside and rub shoulders with locals! Our favourite “Meals on Wheels” can be found travelling on a high speed, air-conditioned train between Delhi and Agra.
You haven’t tried chai tea until you’ve tried an Indian Masala Chai. Made from crushed cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, and cloves, the spices are headed in a saucepan before being combined with milk and sugar to create a sweet, fragrant concoction. Once you’ve had one of these, you may never go back to a teabag again!
Where to try: Ahmedabad knows its chai. The best accompaniment is a gujarati breakfast.
A Home Cooked Meal
There’s nothing more authentic that breaking bread with a local family in any destination, and even more so in India where the bread is a choice of chapatti or naan. An Indian dinner table will traditionally include a curry from the local region, served on a plate with rice, one green vegetarian dish, and chapatti.
Where to try: At a local’s house! The Home Cooked tours in Delhi and Jaipur are some of the most authentic local meal options available in India. You not only get to eat a delicious feast, but you can learn to cook it while chatting about daily life with a local family.
Prepare the napkins, you’re guaranteed to have sticky fingers when eating a jalebi. These delicious, heart-shaped snacks are fried batter soaked in sugar syrup. For a sweet snack or refreshing end to a spicy Indian meal, you can’t miss this Indian delicacy.
Still hungry for India? Let our locals lead you around by the taste buds on one of our India tours!