Turn your trip to India into a culinary journey that goes well beyond biryani and butter chicken.
If Little India in all its vibrancy excites you, you’re going to love it in big India, especially if you’re a curry-crazy Indian food lover. The country is massive and Indian cuisine includes countless dishes from all her 29 states and seven union territories. For now, we’re telling you what to eat when visiting three of the most popular destinations in the Indian subcontinent.
Goa: There’s a party on your plate
The party central of India, Goa is all about the sun, sand and seafood. Head from the beach, straight to a local joint and order up a plate of prawn balchao with a side of fish recheado. This little land’s cuisine has undeniably been influenced by the Portuguese, who colonised this region for 450 years. Prawn balchao (picture above) is a lip-smacking tangy, sweet and spicy dish, a borderline pickle that’ll we can eat heaps of with rice. For fish recheado, you’ll have to get your hands dirty and dig into a fried fish stuffed with spicy, tangy red paste.
All that spice getting you? If you’ve got a serious sweet tooth, find a slice of bebinca, a dense layered and ridiculously sweet pudding. We bet the look and texture will instantly remind you of kueh lapis.
Kerala: Loco about coconut
This long, tropical state, often referred to as God’s own country, is bound to satiate your need for nature. If you’re taking a blissed-out trip to this serene land of palm trees and quiet backwaters, you’ve got to try avial. It’s considered one of the most wholesome veggie dishes and a staple at every traditional feast. A delicious side made of all kinds of steamed vegetables, it’s cooked in a lightly seasoned yogurt and coconut milk sauce. Comfort food written all over it, no?
And you can’t leave this place without sampling the famous Kerala beef fry. Follow your nose to the nearest Keralan restaurant for this peppery delight made coconut, roasted chillies and local spices.
End it on a sweet note with payasam, milk or coconut milk based soupy pudding that’ll leave you asking for seconds. There are several kinds of payasams, but our personal favourite is the old fashion paal payasam made with rice, milk and dried fruits slow cooked to perfection.
Rajasthan: Feast like royalty
Oh, so you’ve decided to hit the desert land of Rajasthan, complete with rich royal history, colourful clothing and forts to keep you occupied for days. For starters, you’ve got to try the laal maas (literally translates to ‘red meat’), a dish traditionally eaten by the royals. It’s a crowd favourite for good reason – it’s a redder than red (no points for guessing it’s spicy) tender lamb curry eaten with rice or Indian bread.
Wanna douse that heat? A bowl of kadi should do it. Every region in the country has its version of this spiced yogurt gravy but you’ve got to try the Rajasthani one. It’s lightly spiced, a smidge sour and often includes fried gram flour dumplings inside.
Veggie to the core? Find yourself a good restaurant that servers a traditional thali, a mindblowing smorgasbord of dishes, designed to treat you with a variety of textures, tastes and nutrients. Oh, and most of them are unlimited. And if you want a ride a serious sugar high, order a gooey chhena malpua (made of cottage cheese), crunchy ghevar (crunchy disc dipped in sugar syrup) or dil khushal (a traditional gram flour sweet).