India continues to be one of the most sought-after destinations in the world. It has the perfect mix of stunning landscapes, rich culture, fascinating history, and amazing architecture. But there is something more which attracts travellers from all over the world – Indian cuisine. It is delicious, diverse, extravagant, and vivid. To be honest, Indians are obsessed with food and they actually live to eat.
Indian cuisine has amazing originality and diversity. The flavours and taste keep changing every few kilometres. Every region has its own specialities depending on the culture, weather, and local produce. The innovation and complexities involved in preparing the delicacies will confound you. When you visit India, you should focus more on vegetarian grub. It is safer, healthier and you would never come across better veg cuisine. The reason being that the majority of Indians are vegetarians is due to their religious beliefs. Those who love non-veg food need not despair. There is no dearth of non-veg options in the country.
India is in the bucket list of every foodie. The mind-blogging variety baffles and overwhelms the first-time visitors. They are confused about what Indian dishes they should try. Let us check out the most-loved vegetarian food in India.
PS – Most of the below mentioned culinary delights are not considered ‘healthy’ by any yardstick. They are on the list because of their mouth-watering taste and tantalizing flavours. But who cares? Everyone is allowed to indulge during vacations.
1. Chole Bhature
This scrumptious meal is simply too delicious to resist. Chole Bhature originates in Punjab but is popular all over the country. It can be found in roadside stalls, restaurants, and luxury hotels. The dish consists of thick spicy chickpea curry (chole) which is eaten with deep-fried fluffy bread (Bhature). You can find Chole Bhature in every nook and corner, but try it in Punjab or Delhi for authentic flavours and delectable taste.
2. Masala Dosa
This South Indian delicacy can be enjoyed without any guilt pangs. Masala Dosa is a crispy paper-thin pancake served with lentils (sambar) and coconut chutney. The Dosa batter is made by fermenting rice and lentils. It can have a variety of fillings, but the most popular is potato-based. The dish can be eaten at any time of the day. It is easy to find good Masala Dosas, but if you are a connoisseur, head to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The Dosa batter is used to make another popular meal – Idli. The soft, fluffy white cakes are prepared by steaming the fermented rice-lentil batter in an Idli Maker. The idlis are served with Sambhar and Chutney. This South Indian delicacy is light, healthy, and ideal for breakfast.
4. Veg Biryani
A legacy left by the Mughal Emperors, Biryani is supposed to be a non-vegetarian meal. However, it was later modified to cater to the large vegetarian population in India. Rice is cooked for hours in a sealed container with fragrant spices, a medley of vegetables, ghee, and saffron. The result is an aromatic and potent delicacy that is sure to hook you for life. You can find lots of Biryani variants, but Hyderabadi Biryani should be your first choice.
5. Dal Baati
If you are visiting Rajasthan, eating Daal Baati has to be on your must-do list. Baatis are round hard wheat balls cooked in a traditional charcoal oven. It is eaten with spicy lentil (dal) and loads of Ghee (Indian Butter). Dal Baati is usually accompanied by Churma – the hard Baatis are crumbled and generously peppered with nuts, saffron, ghee, and sugar/jaggery. Worried about the fat intake? You can easily burn the extra calories by climbing one of the majestic forts in Rajasthan.
6. Pav Bhaji
Mumbai is famous for its street food and one Mumbai dish which is cooked in every Indian household is Pav Bhaji. Mashed mixed vegetables (Bhaji) are brewed in tangy tomatoes with a special blend of spices. The spicy Bhaji is then served with warm buttered bread (pav), chopped onions, and dollops of butter. The ultimate street food can be found everywhere, but nothing can beat the Pav Bhaji of Mumbai streets.
Photo credit: Pav Bhaji
7. Dal Makhani
Another Punjabi dish that needs to be included here is Dal Makhani. Whole black lentils and kidney beans are cooked overnight on a slow burner. The Dal is then seasoned with a generous amount of tomatoes, spices, cream, and butter resulting in a rich, creamy texture. The wholesome dish can be eaten with Indian bread like Naan, Kulcha, Paratha, etc. If you are in a mood to splurge, try Dal Makhani in the ITC Bukhara restaurant in Delhi. The upscale restaurant’s signature dish ‘Dal Bukhara’ is worth every penny.
Photo Credit: Dal-Makhani
8. Indian Chaat
You cannot go back from India without tasting the famous Indian Chaat. What exactly is Chaat? It is an entire range of exotic street food available widely in all parts of India. Fried savoury snacks, potatoes, vegetables, puffed rice, yoghurt, tamarind chutney, coriander chutney, and aromatic spices are mixed together in different combinations to make a wide variety of delish Chaats. Bhel Puri, Sev Puri, Gol Guppe, Pani Puri, Dahi Vada, Aloo Tikki are some of the more popular Chaats. The crunchy, spicy, tangy delicacies will make you a Chaat-addict for sure. Chaat should be eaten from road-side stalls to get the right flavours and textures. Delhi and Kolkata have the best Chaat in India.
Photo Credit: Indian Chaat
9. Aloo Puri
No festival in India can be complete without the humble Aloo-Puri. Spicy Potato curry (Aloo) is eaten with deep-fried puffy Indian bread (puri). The simple dish is loved by people of all ages and has been part of the Indian kitchen for decades. Though it originated in Delhi, it can now be enjoyed in all parts of the country. Indian homes are one of the best places to taste this ever-green delicacy.
Photo Credit: Aloo-Puri
Do you know many regions of India start their meals with a dessert? We did not begin our list with desserts but let us end it with one of the most loved sweet of India – Jalebi. A thick batter made of flour is squeezed in hot ghee in a pretzel shape. Once they are crisp, it is taken out of the oil and dipped in a saffron laced sugar syrup. The melt-in-the-mouth dessert is crisp, colourful, juicy, and yummilicious. It can be found in most of the sweet shops scattered in every Indian city. But no one can beat Rajasthani’s in making the traditional luscious jalebis.
Photo Credit: Jalebi
I am not exaggerating when I say that I have not even started yet. Samosa, Aloo Parantha, Kashmiri Dum Aloo, Malai kofta, Paneer Tikka, Gulab Jamun, Kheer, Halwa, Vada Pav, Gatte ki Subzi – the list is never-ending. A visit to India is sure to take you on an unforgettable culinary adventure.
By the way, in case you didn’t realise, India is one of the best places to travel on a budget!
Seema is a travel blogger from India. She spent the best years of her life being a housewife and rearing her two kids. After the kids got busy in their lives, she felt the need to do something constructive to keep herself occupied.
She experimented with a few things, one of them being a course in Digital Marketing. There she got the idea of starting a travel blog. Seema has been travelling all over the world for the past thirty years. She has lost count of the number of places she has visited. A travel blog was the perfect way to share her experiences and tips with the world.
Eight months down the line, she is still busy with her blog and loving it. She has been able to make her passion her work. What can be better than that?
Visit Seema’s blog: Take Off With Me