Indian cuisine is as diverse and vibrant as the cities it represents
A diverse nation is a treasure trove of cultures and traditions, which also includes a vast spread of diverse cuisine. Whether it is the fiery chillies of Northeast India, or the sweet savouries of Bengal, whether you want a bite of authentic coastal food or love the idea of mountain cuisine, the delicious Mahua of tribal areas to the delicious Goan feni — perhaps the most defining characteristic of Indian cuisine is its diversity.
JAMMU & KASHMIR
They say Kashmir’s scenic beauty makes it a heaven on earth for travellers; we say it is also ‘Paradise Found’ for food lovers. Kashmiris love mutton, so there are close to thirty mutton recipes originating from the valley, the most popular being Rogan Josh. You also have Gushtaba – lamb meatballs in yoghurt curry; Tabak Maaz – lamb ribs with turmeric, cinnamon and saffron; Kashmiri Haakh – a traditional Kashmiri collard green preparation; for dessert, try Khubani ka Halwa, a delightful apricot pudding mixed with dried fruits. The high point of the Kashmiri food experience comes in the form of Wazwan, a multi-course meal with almost all dishes made of chicken and lamb – its preparation is considered an art.
The haven of Punjabi cuisine, it’s all about heavy eating and living life king size. Punjab is also home to the delicious tandoori foods, be it chicken or paneer. In Amritsar, one can find the flavours of authentic Punjab, the kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and butter-laden delicacies. When in Amritsar, do try the authentic and very famous Butter Chicken – chicken in creamy gravy; the ultimate Sarson ka Saag and Makki ki Roti – a traditional dish where spinach and mustard meet corn bread or roti; Fish Tikka – an oven cooked Amritsari delicacy and Amritsari Lassi. Find your way to some tasty Amritsari Jalebi to end the food fest on a sweet note.
LUCKNOW, UTTAR PRADESH
Reminiscent of the Nawab culture, Lucknow is every foodie’s delight. What you get in Lucknow in terms of food is better known as Awadhi cuisine and you would be at a loss if you do not try them all. The very first itemo on your list should be the famous and delicious, Galouti Kebab; Lucknowi Biryani – the version of Biryani found this side of India comes straight out of the kitchens of the Nawabs; Kakori, on the outskirts of Lucknow, boasts the famous Kakori Kebabs – these amazing kebabs are made of minced mutton, mixed with aromatic spices before being grilled, to get the beautiful colour. Try Pasandey – mutton cooked till tender, in spices and gravy, with cream and almonds. Finish your culinary journey at Lucknow with Shahi Tukda – a delicious bread pudding, and Malai Ki Gilori, which is an authentic sweet delight.
KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL
Once the capital of India, Kolkata was a cosmopolitan city with Jews, Armenians, Anglo-Indian settlers, paving way for some of the most sumptuous foods you can find in the country. Start your culinary journey here by heading to Tiretta Bazaar early in the morning. Home to the Chinese community here, you will be in for a treat, which includes Chicken Momos, Pork Momos, Shu Mei, Sausages, Prawn wafers, Tai Paos, Fried dough sticks and Chicken Rolls. Move on to authentic Bengali dishes later in the day; try the Kosha Mangsho – an aromatic Bengali mutton curry; Sorse Ilish – a preparation of “ilish,” (the king of fish) with mustard seeds and green chillies; the quintessentially Bengali Alu Posto – potato with poppy seeds, and while you are at it, try the various green veggies and roots and shoots, most of which are prepared with fish head or small fish. Do not miss out on Kathi Rolls and other street food, and Flury’s, the legendary Kolkata tea room.
The southern paradise of India has some of the most delicious foods you can ask for and it is not just idlis and dosas. Here, you should try the local style of eating appams with curries, especially non vegetarian ones. Then, there is the out-of-the-world Malabar Biryani; Fish Mappas – a curry cooked in coconut milk, which is also eaten with appams; Pomfret Moilee or any other fish moilee – cooked with curry leaves, tomatoes, mustard seeds and turmeric; Cheera Thoran – a fried dish of fresh vegetables, which is mostly eaten as a side dish. Kerala is also widely famous for its very spicy beef fry, a must try for meat lovers.