There’s no such thing as Indian cuisine. In a country with such mind-boggling culinary diversity it is almost preposterous to use the term. India boasts of not one or two but about as many cuisines as the number of communities. Food of India can be categorized into North Indian and South Indian for the purpose of simplicity. But that is a simplistic categorization, for even within every state in India one finds great culinary variation.
And the best way to learn the cuisines is at home of local. We have food experts at each touristic destination who will showcase you the history of the regional cuisines and you can also learn the cooking and try yourself at home. They will explain you about the importance of various Indian spices. A cooking demonstration experience combines hands on learning Indian cuisine followed by indulging the tummy and heart with the delicacies cooked.
Here are some broad idea of cuisines at famous touristic destinations:
DELHI: There is one thing you will find common in all the Delhiites is that they love their for food. Delhi’s food culture is a potpourri of different traditions and cultures from the past. As people from different places came and settled in, the city acquired identity of all the types of people living in it. All the rulers and emperors have left some taste of their food behind. The most famous being the Mughlai cuisines from the Mughal era. Now Mughalai cuisines are cooked in all parts of the country but the best cuisines are prepared in Delhi. And Delhiites will always be thankful to the Mughals for leaving behind their food recipes.
So here are some dishes which are prominent in Delhi; Tandoor - It was the Mughals who introduced tandoor in the country, it is basically a kind of bread, which is made in earthen oven. Kababs are quite common in this part of the country. Kababs are small pieces of meat or chicken marinated in different spices. Thereafter, it is cooked over coal tandoor. Other that Mughali cuisine Butter Chicken is one of the most delightful dishes of the country. It originated in the 1950s in Moti Mahal Restaurant in Delhi.
PUNJABI CUISINE: The food of Punjab is meant for the strong-hearted. It is rich in flavours and has a liberal dose of ghee (clarified butter) and spices. Punjab has an abundance of milk and therefore milk products are an important part of daily diet. No meal is complete without large glassfuls of butter milk or lassi (yoghurt drink). The people of this region are largely wheat eaters and have developed variations of breads including the stuffed aloo paratha (potato bread) and the makke ki roti (maize bread). Vegetarian delights such as sarson saag (mustard leaf curry), rajma-chawal (kidney beans with steamed rice) and kadhi (gram flour and yoghurt curry) are the most popular Punjabi dishes. Punjabis have also created a combination of the northwest frontier cuisine and Mughlai recipes to present rich poultry and mutton dishes. The ubiquitous "tandoori chicken" is a great favorite!
UTTAR PRADESH CUISINE: The cuisine of Uttar Pradesh is just as diverse as its geography. The people of Uttar Pradesh love to cook, to eat and to feed! Difference in communities notwithstanding, as a people, they are very warm and hospitable. For most of them, the ultimate in hospitality means you feed your guests till they beg for mercy. Many Hindu communities are staunch vegetarians and they have created a vast variety of vegetarian dishes ranging from the all time favorite puri-aloo (potatoes and fried wheat bread) to savouries and divine desserts and sweetmeats.
The Muslim cuisine, of northern Uttar Pradesh is very different from the Mughlai food of Delhi. The Nawabs of Oudh (now Lucknow) were great gourmets and encouraged their master chefs to create new styles of cooking like the famous Dum Pukht where the food is sealed in large pots called "handis", placed over a slow fire and left to cook in its own juices. When opened, these dishes release the most fragrant and delicious aromas. Lucknow and its neighboring towns were put on the culinary map of India thanks to these rich curries, melt in the mouth kebabs, fragrant rice biryanis and pulaos and an eclectic collection of leavened and unleavened breads.
RAJASTHANI CUISINE: In the desert areas of Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Barmer the scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables had- its impact on the creativity of the cooks. Instead of water, the womenfolk of the herdsmen used milk, buttermilk and clarified butter that was available in plenty, as well as dried lentils and beans from native plants. Gram flour is a major ingredient and is used for preparing delicacies like gatta ki sabzi, pakodi and khata. Bajra and corn, the staple grains, go to making rotis, rabdi and kheechdi. And various chutneys prepared from locally available spices like coriander, garlic, mint and turmeric round off the regional flavor. The food owes much to the demands and ingenuity of the lifestyle of the people. For example, the universal favorites Dal-baati (lentil curry with wheat dough balls roasted in hot coals) and choorma (dry. flaky, wheat bread crumb pudding garnished with raisins and almonds) were food items that could be carried for days in the hot desert climate by warriors. Baalis could be buried in the hot desert sands and slowly baked till required. Non-vegetarian dishes include soola or barbecued meats marinated to succulent tenderness and grilled on open coal fires. Its origins lie in the yesteryear hunting expeditions of the nobility.
However, it is sweets that the Rajasthan really excel in, each region having its specialty. So Jaipur is famous for its mishri mawa and ghevar, neighboring Pushkar for its malpuas, Ajmer for its "sohan halwa", Jodhpur and Jaisalmer for their "laddoos, Bikaner for its "rasgullas" and Udaipur for its "diljam”. And you can find mouthwatering, crisp and syrupy “jalebis” everywhere. Being constantly on the move, the Rajasthanis required foodstuff that could last several days and be easily carried. So, a large number of savory snacks were developed - "dal-moth", " bhujia", “khatta-meetha sev”, which are popular to this day.
BENGALI CUISINE: Bengali food consists of a lot of fish, lentils and rice. Breakfast could be milk and rice flakes eaten with gur (jaggery) or luchi (fluffy wheat pancake) with aloo dum (a dry spicy potato dish not to be mistaken for the Kashmiri dum aloo). Lunch and dinner are elaborate affairs. The first course is rice and daal (lentil curry) with vegetables, pickled mangoes and fresh salad.
It is followed by rice and meat and yet another course of rice and-fish: Great fish eaters, the true blue Bengali is the one who can crunch fish bones without letting them stick in the throat! The "hilsa" fish is a specialty when cooked in mustard sauce.
Bengalis love sweets. A vast array of milk based "mithai" (sweetmeats) originated in Bengal. The light and spongy Rosogulla, the mouth-watering Sandesh are available all over India, but nowhere do they taste as they do in Kolkata. Sweetshops in other parts of the country just have to call themselves "Bengali Sweet House" and their reputation is established. If you are ever in Kolkata do try the delectable Mishti Doi (rich sweet yoghurt).
GOAN CUISINE: Goan cuisine is the end result of the blending of local Konkani and Portuguese food styles. This culinary amalgamation and adaptation has created fiery coconut based curries and stews using pork and beef and rich cakes and pastries, as well as an interesting range of port and red and white wines.
Goans famous Pork Vindaloo is the fiery local specialty, cooked in hot red chilli peppers and vinegar - it is hot and tangy. Other specialties of Goan cuisine are equally well known: Xacuti (a chicken or meat dish), Chourisso (spicy Goan sausages), Sorpotel (a pig liver dish) and Prawn Balchao. A meal should be rounded off with delicious, much relished desserts- Dodol and Bebinca. Fresh seafood is an absolute must for Goan cooking, which includes dishes of prawns, crabs, mussels and fish cooked in local styles and mouth-watering creations of lobster cooked in wine and cheese.
Feni, the local cashew fruit or coconut brew hits all the right spots. For the less adventurous, there are some local ports and red and white wines or the cool, refreshing coconut water drunk straight from the tender green coconut.
TAMILIAN CUISINE: The food of Tamil Nadu is what passes for "south Indian cuisine" everywhere else in the country. Idli, dosa, vada, sambar, uppama as with all Indian food, a meal centres on a base of rice or semolina preparation. Eaten alongside is the sambar, sour hot dal souped-up with vegetables. The Brahmins are vegetarian, but others consume sour-hot fish, mutton and chicken with gusto.
Of the Tamilian cuisines it is Chettinad food that is on the ascendance on the popularity charts. The cuisine belongs to the money-lending community of Chettiars who were originally from the deep south of the state but whose trade links took them far and wide into South East Asia. The wealth of the community is reflected in its food, which is liberal in its use of oils, meats and spices. Of course they cook the usual chicken and fish, but they also have dishes for such exotica as Japanese quail. They do a variety of vegetarian dishes. The basic terms are varuval, poriyal and kuzambu. A varuval is a dry preparation where meats or vegetables are lightly fried with onions and spices, the poriyal is a rich hot curry, and kuzambu is a stew of meat or vegetables in spiced up coconut milk.
The drink of choice through the state is coffee. Grown in the plantations in the Nilgiri Hills, the coffee is brewed with great care and filtered such that it is guaranteed to deliver the days caffeine fix with one flavorful punch.
KERALA CUISINE: Rice is the staple of the Kerala diet Various preparations form the base of the meal; curries of fish, meat and vegetable accompany it Most dishes bear the flavor of coconut, curry leaves and mustard seeds, and the tastes of coconut milk and tamarind. All communities except the Namboodiris- a community of orthodox Brahmins, consume meat.
Kerala cuisine is distinguished by its regional and religious variations. The food of the Malabar Coast is distinct in its use of red chillies, pepper, mutton and beef preparations and the fondness for the famed Malabari "barolha" a many-layered fried bread made from unleavened dough. The Travancore region is staunchly Hindu so beef is taboo but pork is not. Rice is still the staple; but while the curries are less spicy there is a strong flavour of coconut oil. Kerelan relishes sea fish, mussels, pork, beef, mutton and fowl, and these may be stewed, fried or curried. Usually Muslims won’t eat pork and Hindus won’t eat beef. The influence of the Middle East is unmistakable-in the richness of the meat dishes.