India's most… delicious dishes
Renowned for its fabulous flavours, India is a country with true culinary flair. Its exciting use of spices, balance of flavours and sheer variety of cooking styles make dining here an absolute joy. But in that exciting array of delicious, characterful food, which meals are the most unmissable?
We have compiled a list of India's finest dishes to help you know what to keep an eye out for during your trip. Of course, exactly what you can try will depend on whereabouts you are; one of the best things about Indian cooking is its regional variety, which means the flavours of each state are quite distinctive from one another. Here, we have tried to give you a feel for some of the nation's most tempting regional specialities.
Kerala fish curry
Topping our list is the signature dish of Kerala - a state abundant in natural culinary resources, including coconut, spices, tea and coffee. Its fertile land combined with its coastal location makes dining here a truly exciting experience - and one that most definitely takes you into the heart of local culture.
Kerala fish curry incorporates two of the core elements of classic Keralan cooking, namely the use of spices and seafood. Hailing from the Malabar region, it is made with fish, coconut milk, black mustard, fennel seeds, fenugreek and kudampuli. Utterly delicious, it is a must-try on any visit to Kerala.
An immensely popular Punjabi dish, matar paneer is a vegetarian meal that's packed full of flavour. Chunks of paneer, a curd cheese that's commonly used in Indian cooking, are combined with green peas and an onion and tomato sauce. One of the lighter paneer dishes, it is bound to be a favourite of vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
Dum ki biryani
Biryanis are of course popular in the UK, but there is nothing quite like tasting an authentic biryani prepared in India. In fact, different regions have their own variation of this dish, and among the best is Hyderabad's dum ki biryani. Meat is marinated and cooked before being layered with rice and cooked in a closed dish. However, there is also a vegetarian version - typically using a combination of carrots, cauliflower, peas and cashews, among other vegetables - to replace the meat.
Our next dish brings us back to Kerala. Typically eaten with a delicious stew of coconut milk, cloves, shallots, cinnamon and vegetables, appam is made with fermented rice flour and coconut milk, and is similar to a pancake. The two together make a fantastic - and quintessentially Keralan - meal.
Another Keralan favourite, karimeen pollichathu is a delicacy of the fascinating backwater region. Karimeen (pearl spot fish) is marinated before being wrapped in banana leaves and baked. Pearl spot fish is abundant in the backwater region, and often those living on the water will catch their own fish and cook it immediately.
Daal bati churma
A typical dish of Rajasthan, daal bati churma is a beautiful meal that skilfully combines sweet and savoury - a classic trait in Rajasthani cooking - to create a mouthwatering and moreish result.
It is composed of three elements - spicy daal, baati (which are small bread rolls), and churma, a semi-sweet side dish that balances the flavours of the daal and baati.
One of India's most famous dishes, tandoori murg is a staple chicken dish of the Punjab region. Its name comes from the tandoor, a traditional clay oven, in which the food is prepared. Tandoori murg is a chicken dish, which combines marinated chicken with naan bread, both of which are cooked quickly in the fiery heat of the tandoor. While it has been traditional to the Punjab region for some time, it only became more widespread in the country following the independence of India.
Another Punjab favourite, chana masala is a traditional dish that is also something of a street food staple in this part of the country. It is a mix of chickpeas and spices with a slightly sour note, and is often eaten with bread.
Popular in the south of the country, masala dosa combines rice, potato, curry leaves and methi, and is served with chutneys and daal - though the exact mix depends on whereabouts in the south you are, as it varies from one city to the next. It is commonly eaten for breakfast - something that is definitely worth trying during your trip, even if you are used to a lighter meal in the mornings.
This Gujarati snack food is another popular breakfast item. Combining fine flavour with a very light feel, dhokla is made of a fermented rice and chickpea batter, and is extremely moreish.
Typically found in the north-east of India, momos are very reminiscent of dim sum. Making a fantastic snack, these flavoursome morsels are usually eaten with a spicy chutney.
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