Indian cuisine replicates a 5000-year history of the melding of various cultures, leading to diverse flavors and regional cuisines. The arrival of the Mughals, the British, and the Portuguese further added fusion and variety. Yet, while delicacies vary by region and state, most are built from the same taste foundations and there are many similarities in terms of spices and flavors, regardless of the geographical region.

The main differences are largely divided into South Indian and North Indian cuisine. A lot of the northern regions of India are vegetarian, and therefore many of the most inspiring vegetable dishes originate from the northern states. Staple ingredients in Indian cooking include rice, tomatoes, potatoes, lentils, chickpeas, onions and yoghurt, and the most common spices used to flavor authentic Indian food include turmeric, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, cardamom, chili, garlic, cloves, saffron, fennel, nutmeg, star anise, and fenugreek.

In the same way that food influences traveled to India, Indian cuisine has also traveled overseas. Particular dishes have gained esteem and have trickled into cuisines all over the world, however for the most authentic of flavors and dining experiences, these dishes should really be tried in situ in their destination of origin.

Here is a selection of some of the most popular Indian dishes to eat in India on vacation:


Fretting about which fried food to try? You can’t go wrong with a pakora – a delicious, deep-fried spiced fritter.

1. Pakora

Pakora is a savory, deep-fried Indian snack made with chunks of vegetables such as potato, cauliflower and eggplant, or meat of choice, which is then dipped in chickpea flour, seasoned with turmeric, salt, chili, or other spices, and deep-fried in ghee.

It is a quintessential Indian snack, easily found on numerous street corners and most popular during spring, when the locals choose to celebrate the monsoon season by eating fried foods.


Chaat and chat anyone? Head for the nearest street vendor selling these snack-size mini-meals and socialize!about:blank

2. Chaat

The name chaat encompasses a wide variety of Indian street foods, snacks, or small meals which usually combine salty, spicy, sweet, and sour flavors. They are usually small, consumed on their own as a snack, or combined with other dishes to form a big meal.

Throughout India, chaat can be found at chaatwallas – street vendors serving various dishes, from stuffed bread to deep-fried pastries with accompanying dipping sauces.

Vada Pav

When hungry in Mumbai, the abundant Vada Pav vendors can satiate your appetite with these burger-style beauties.

3. Vada Pav

Vada Pav is a favorite sandwich-style snack from Mumbai, named after its ingredients: vada, or spicy mashed potatoes, which are deep-fried in chickpea batter; and pav, or white bread rolls. This iconic street food is said to have originated from a street vendor named Ashok Vaidya, who worked near the Dadar train station in the sixties and seventies, and came up with a way to satiate the hungry workers.


Cake for breakfast anyone? Idli is a favorite savory morning staple in South India.

4. Idli

Idli is a traditional, savory Indian cake that is a popular breakfast item in many South Indian households, although it can be found throughout the country. It is made with a batter consisting of fermented lentils and rice, which is then steamed. These savory cakes are commonly served hot and consumed on their own, dipped into sambar or chutneys, or seasoned with a range of spices.


Popular throughout India, paratha are perfect just on their own and often served with a whole host of accoutrementsabout:blank

5. Paratha

Paratha is a flaky, layered, golden-brown Indian bread, which is typically consumed for breakfast. It consists of whole wheat flour that’s baked in ghee, Indian clarified butter, and comes in round, triangular, square, or hexagonal shapes.

Very often, parathas are stuffed with ingredients such as boiled potatoes, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, chili, paneer, or radish. They are sometimes accompanied by pickles, yogurt, homemade chutneys, and occasionally served as a side to meat and vegetable curries. In Punjab, paratha is eaten with lassi, a popular yogurt-based drink.


Leavened heaven – the favorite accompaniment of curries across the Western world, naan is mainly eaten in the Punjab region and the north of India, without the rice!

6. Naan

Naan is a well-liked flatbread with a chewy texture. It consists of white flour, yeast, eggs, milk, salt, and sugar, baked in a tandoor oven. Its characteristic tear-drop shape is achieved due to the way that the dough droops as it cooks on the tandoor walls.

Aloo Gobi

If you like potatoes and cauliflower, you’re in for a treat – Aloo Gobi literally translates as potatoes & cauliflower and is a true classic.

7. Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi is a vegetarian dry curry, consisting of potatoes (aloo), cauliflower (gobi), and Indian spices. It has a warm, yellow-orange color because it contains turmeric. Other common ingredients include kalonji, curry leaves, garlic, ginger, onion, coriander stalks, tomato, peas, and cumin.

Butter Chicken

Butter? Nom. Chicken? Nom. Butter chicken? Non nom nom nom.

8. Butter Chicken

A dish of tender chicken in a mildly spiced tomato sauce. It’s traditionally cooked in a tandoor (a cylindrical clay oven). The gravy is always made first by boiling down fresh tomato, garlic, and cardamom into a bright red pulp. This pulp is then pureed after cooling. Butter, various spices, and khoa (dried whole milk) is then added. The dish originated in Delhi during the 1950s.

Dal Tadka

It’s all in the tadka process – the flavored oil tempering brings out all the spices’ health benefits and add piquancy to this divinely delicious dal dish.

9. Dal Tadka

This classic lentil-based dish originates from the northern parts of India. Although there are variations, the dish is usually prepared with toor dal (split yellow peas), garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes, garam masala, red chili peppers, ghee, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fenugreek leaves. Once prepared, dal tadka is usually garnished with coriander leaves and served hot with jeera rice and roti on the side.

Masala Dosa

Masala dosa are sumptuous savory snacks not too dissimilar in appearance to crêpes.

10. Masala Dosa

The traditional southern Indian dish known as masala dosa is popular throughout the country, made from a batter of soaked rice and black lentils, which are ground into a paste and blended to create a thick batter, usually left to ferment overnight. The mixture is enriched with a handful of fenugreek seeds, which gives the dosa its distinctive golden-brown color and a delicious, crispy texture.

It is then baked on a hot oiled griddle into a thin pancake and often stuffed with potatoes, onions, and mustard seeds before being garnished with grated coconut and chopped coriander. It is usually consumed as a quick snack, but can also be a breakfast dish.


The stupendous stew of Tamil Nadu state, the Sambar is now popular across South India and has even been adapted into Myanamr’s Burmese

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