India - Food and Drink
Food in India has been influenced by many civilisations over the centuries and is known for its spiciness. The most commonly used spices are chili pepper, black mustard seed, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, ginger, coriander and garlic. Each region in India offers very different dishes which are greatly influenced by natural and local ingredients as well as religious and cultural aspects.
Popular dishes in the South:
Dosa: a fermented crepe or pancake made from rice batter and black lentils. Dosa can be filled with vegetables and sauce and is often eaten as a quick meal.
Popular dishes in the North are:
Chapati: an unleavened flatbread made with whole wheat flour.
Biryani: a rice based dished traditionally made with basmati rice and cooked with various spices, meat, fish, eggs and vegetables.
Tandoori Chicken: chicken is marinated with spice and cooked in a cylindrical clay oven known as a Tandoor. The chicken is then prepared with yoghurt and spices.
Popular dishes in the South:
Dosa: a fermented crape or pancake made from rice batter and black lentils. Dosa can be filled with vegetables and sauce and is often eaten as a quick meal.
Puran Poli: a traditional type of sweet flatbread.
Idli: a savoury cake often eaten for breakfast or snack. The cakes are made from a batter of fermented black lentils and rice.
Popular dishes in the West:
Vada Pav: this is a popular version of vegetarian fast food. It consists of a potato fritter between two slices of pav (an unsweetened bread).
Bombil Fry: is a lizardfish that is usually fried and served as a starter.
Dahi vada: fried lentil balls served in a yoghurt sauce.
Popular dishes in the East:
Pal: curried lentils regularly served with rice and vegetables.
Chhena Gaja: this is a sweet dish made up of chhena (similar to cottage cheese) and sooji (semolina) that is kneaded into a dough. The dough is then moulded and deep fried in oil and afterwards is coated in sugary syrup.
Ilish: a popular tropical fish that many say can be cooked in over fifty ways. In Bengal, it can be smoked, fried, steamed or baked and is prepared with mustard seed paste, curd and eggplant.
Tea is a very popular drink in India with Darjeeling and Assam producing the finest varieties. Lassi is a traditional yoghurt-based drink where yoghurt is blended with water, milk and spices. Sharbat is a sweet, cold drink made from fruits or flower petals. Badam doodh is an almond milk with nuts and cardamon for flavouring.
Things to know:
Tipping is acceptable in India and 10-15% is standard if a service charge has not already been applied.
This ranges between 18-25 depending on the state.
The Soul of Indian Cuisine
Indian cuisine is an assortment of zealously guarded culinary skills that have descended down generations, from a host of regions and communities. Yet, each is distinct in flavor, ranging from the sharpest to the subtlest.
Despite its unparalleled dietary range there’s something mystical and intrinsic about all Indian food: the reverence and thoughtfulness with which it is prepared.
The exotic blend of herbs and spices, and the intricate preparatory methods, are all intended to let the aromas and flavours sink into the fare and your senses. Not only does the food smell or look gorgeous, it fires your appetite until you and your taste buds succumb to temptation. And the seduction is total. Efforts to resist indulgence often prove futile. But you’ll feel no remorse because such sublime experiences are a step closer to spirituality.
Turmeric (Haldi): Used in most Indian dishes. Imparts rich looks. Great aroma and flavor when ground before cooking.
Benefits: Blood purifier, improves liver function, prevents coughs and colds, improves skin tone and is an antiseptic.
Ginger (Adrak): Lends a distinctly sharp taste and aroma.
Benefits: Improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, controls blood pressure, inhibits cancer, prevents coughs and colds, has anti-nausea and anti-clotting properties.
Garlic (Lehsun): Pungent smell. A great complement to ginger. Together emit an appetizing aroma when sautéed as seasoning in most dishes.
Benefits: Lowers cholesterol, inhibits rheumatism, has anti-cancer, anti-flatulent and anti-bacterial properties.
Black Pepper: Very aromatic when freshly ground. Adds “bite” to the food giving it a mysterious after-taste.
Benefits: Effectively wards off colds and throat infections.
Clove (Laung): Used wholly in rice and meat preparations. Also used in powdered form in baked goods.
Benefits: Controls gum and tooth infections, anti-nausea, combats colds, strengthens nerves and improves circulation.
Cumin (Jeera): One of the main ingredients in curries. Used whole as popular seasoning.
Benefits: Good digestive especially to ‘settle’ a heavy meal.
Cardamom (Elaichi), Cinnamon (Dalchini) and Nutmeg (Jaifal): Mostly ground and sprinkled for their pleasing aroma and subtle flavours. Indispensable to many preparations including desserts made from milk.
Benefits: Cardamom prevents formation of kidney stones, cinnamon helps fight diabetes and food poisoning while nutmeg helps relieve stress.
Saffron (Kesar): The most expensive spice. Imparts great looks and exclusive flavor to rice, meats, seafood and desserts.
Benefits: Cures anaemia, is a heart and nerve tonic and has anti-aging properties.
Coriander (Dhania): The most sought after garnish enhances freshness and flavor of any dish.
Benefits: Cures indigestion. The seeds can reduce high cholesterol.
Red Chilli (Lal Mirchi): Gives Indian curries and gravies their irresistible looks and legendary ‘hot’ character.
Benefits: Said to contain vitamin-C. It imparts colour and taste to any dish.
India Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to India.
Learn about the history and culture of India, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about India's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering India for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our India tours today!
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