India is a land of diversity – be it geography or culture, religion or ethnicity, attire or food habits – each state in India has something different to offer. For someone traveling to India for the first time, there would be ample things that would leave you in awe – the diversity of cuisine being one!
Let’s talk a glance at the different delicacies from India – Each state of the country has to offer something to satiate your taste buds and fill your heart with contentment.
Jammu and Kashmir
Kashmiri Pulao and Matschgand – The pulao is actually sweetened rice prepared by using cinnamon, a little saffron, milk, ghee, sugar, cashew nuts, almonds, green cardamom among several other ingredients. Saffron is the main ingredient, which adds the flavor and color to the dish. With Kashmiri pulao, you have to try matschgand, which is a gravy made with lots of spices and meatballs. Considering the fact that the weather is cold in the region, most of the Kashmiris prefer to add a lot of spices to their food, which helps to keep the body warm.
Chha Gosht – A traditional Himachal delicacy, this is a dish which is made with marinated lamb meat cooked in a gravy of yogurt and spices (cardamom, red chili powder, coriander powder, bay leaf, asafoetida and ginger-garlic paste). Mostly eaten with ‘sidu’ – a local bread made of wheat flour, and baked with ghee.
Amritsari Kulcha and Butter Chicken – Punjab is a storehouse of amazing dishes, and they variety of food would keep tickling your taste buds. Amritsari kulcha (getting its name from Amritsar, where you’ll find the famous Golden Temple) is a type of bread that is stuffed with mashed potatoes and has butter oozing out of it. Butter chicken, as the name suggests, has a good dose of yogurt and butter in which the chicken is cooked so as to give it a melt in mouth effect.
Pakora Kadhi – If you want to try the authentic cuisine of Haryana, then you must try the Pakora Kadhi there. This little tangy curry (kadhi, as they call) is prepared with ghee, mustard and cumin seeds, yogurt, besan flour, coriander leaves, green chilies and most importantly, curry leaves which actually take its taste to another level. Mix Kadhi with some plain rice, and enjoy the blend of spices.
Kafuli – This is a dish that you’ll find in almost every Kumaoni restaurant you visit in Uttarakhand, but the best way to savor this delicacy would be at a local’s home – so try opting for a homestay while you are in the Garhwal Region. Kafuli is basically prepared of Spinach and fenugreek leaves, along with spices like chili powder, turmeric, and coriander powder. It is an exotic dish, prepared in an iron kadhai (utensil in which it’s cooked), and it’s usually taken with hot steaming basmati rice. It’s the most nourishing and healthy dish you will come across in the State.
Awadhi Biriyani – Being one of the largest Indian states, Uttar Pradesh has so much to offer that anyone visiting the state would go mad thinking what not to miss. From kebabs in Lucknow to Awadhi Biriyani, and Gaajar ka Halwa to Agra ka Petha, and samosa & kachori – Uttar Pradesh will never leave your stomach empty! However, if I have to suggest you one thing that is a must, then it would be Awadhi Biriyani, also known as Dum Pukht Biriyani. The cuisine dates back to the times of the Mughals, and still holds onto its royal aroma and flavors. The meat and rice are slow-cooked for hours, with exotic spices and rose water, in order to give that absolutely stunning taste to the biriyani.
Daal, Baati, Churma and Laal Maans – For all the veggies (and non-vegetarians), Daal-Baati-Churma is something that can’t be missed! The baked ‘baatis’ dipped in ghee, served with the spice drenched daal and melt-in-mouth churma is a delight to savor. And for all meat lovers, binge on Rajasthani Laal Maans – a spicy dish that gets the name from the color of the dish, thanks to the extra dose of red chilis! If you are in India and want to experience the real taste of spices, then you have to try this dish.
Chaat – Being the capital of the country, Delhi sets an example of a perfect cosmopolitan society, which not only has the best from all the states of India but also from different parts of the world. Although many times the authentic flavor lacks, and that totally depends on the ambiance – Delhi would rarely fail to surprise you! If there’s one thing that you can’t miss trying, then that’s the street food of Delhi, especially the chaats – ranging from Papri Chaat to Aloo Tikki Chaat and Dahi Bhalla Chaat. Plunge into the pool of tangy sauces andyogurtt mixed with spices – and keep your taste buds drooling!
If you are on your volunteer trip to India, you have the added advantage of being with the locals, and going a step ahead with homestays. This would give you more benefits when it comes to savoring the local delicacies.
As you will explore the country, make sure to take a ride through the spice highway – enjoy all that’s mentioned above and much more! If you have already tried any of these, or anything different from any particular state, do mention it in the comment section below. I would love to hear back from you.