Brace yourself—while on holiday in India you are in for a treat. Indian cuisine has a spectacularly diverse range of regional dishes. With explosive flavours running the gamut from spicy to tangy to sweet to sour, Indian cuisine has become a much-loved fare throughout the UK. The diverse, multicultural heritage of India and its easy access to exotic spices such as aniseed, cassia leaves, ginger, turmeric, and saffron, as well as herbs such as coriander, mint, and curry ensures you will enjoy a wide range of flavours in India.
Most Indian food served in the UK is Mughlai (or Punjabi). When in India, you will experience much more than this, with numerous regional cuisines available, such as Awadhi, Goa, and Kerala. Most Indian dishes are vegetarian, although some may include lamb, goat, chicken, or fish. Most dishes do not have beef, as cows are sacred in much of India, and many people tend to be vegetarian.
Indian curries are wonderfully varied from region to region, some having a sour flavour, some having a sweet flavour. Curries have gained popularity throughout the UK, and indeed the world, for their lip-smacking flavours. Around 25 spices are used to make Indian curries, often in various combinations. Spices include turmeric, chilli, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, caraway seeds, and cumin seeds, to name a few. The sauce is often supplemented with lime juice, tamarind, tomatoes, coconut milk, or yoghurt and added to sautéed onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes.
Very popular, much-loved tandoori chicken is a super easy dish to make. The tandoori masala spices include cumin and coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, garlic, red chilli, turmeric, and mace powders, and a pinch of salt. The spices are mixed with yoghurt and smeared over chicken pieces, marinated, then baked or grilled. It tastes delicious with hot naan bread.
Butter chicken is similar to tandoori chicken, but with a simple butter, tomato, and garam masala spiced sauce simmered with cream until rich and velvety. This popular Indian dish can be adjusted to be hot or mild and is often served with kaali daal (black lentils), naan bread, and a green salad.
Kaali daal is a wholesome and delicious vegetarian dish often served as a side dish, but popular as a main as well. This dish combines black lentils with various spices such as ginger, coriander, cumin, and red chilli powder for a spicy, delicious dish.
Street food is one of the best ways to experience India’s cultural and regional diversity. Try wada pav and pav bhaji in Mumbai, jhal mudi (puffed rice) in Calcutta, or mutton biryani in Hyderabad. From makeshift roadside stalls to small carts, street food is everywhere here. Be careful to only order street food from vendors whose food is clean and fresh, as well as cooked right in front of you.
Chaat is a small, savoury snack served just about everywhere in India, from roadside stalls to street vendors to hurriedly assembled carts and is perhaps Northern India’s most popular treat. There are numerous variants, some of which include potatoes, others fried bread, and still others chickpeas. Try the delicious variations of this dish, including papri chaat, aloo chaat, dahi puri, and dahi vada.
This popular Indian snack is filled with a ball of spiced potato, peas, and chilli that is divided and stuffed into dough and then deep fried for an explosion of mouth-wateringly delicious flavours.
Aloo vada is much loved in India on a rainy day. Essentially, it is a potato coated with a floury batter and deep fried. It is served with various chutneys such as date and tamarind chutney or green chutney. Sometimes it is stuffed in a sandwich or bun and eaten for lunch.
This roadside favourite is high in taste and low in cost. It combines potatoes and vegetables simmered with butter and spices. It is served as a meal or as a side.