India 02.06.2014 Transindus
Indian cuisine is some of the most popular in the world, and while you might have tried a fair amount here in the UK, nothing quite compares to tasting it in the country itself. As well as giving you the chance to try Indian food at its most authentic, a tour of the nation also means you can sample dishes from different regions and discover just how varied the country's cuisine really is.
Today, we'll introduce you to how diets vary across the country, as well as looking at the top street food dishes to try - after all, street food is a must-have culinary experience here.
Indian cuisine by region
Below, you can find out more about what to expect from food in one region to the next. Typically, each region has a fair amount of variation in itself!
Rice is a real staple in the north-east, as it is in much of India. Parts of the region, such as Mizoram, share some culinary traits with China; a dish known as bai, for instance, is made from boiling spinach with pork and bamboo shoots, and is served with rice.
In Assam, boiled rice is very popular and is often served with sour fish, known as tengamach - you're likely to come across this combination often here. In Arunachal Pradesh, rice is often consumed in the form of boiled rice cakes wrapped in leaves - a delicious snack.
Beginning with Madhya Pradesh, this central India state has varied cuisine. The south and east areas, which are the wetter parts of the state, feature a lot of rice and fish-based dishes, while the north and west parts eat more meat.
Over in Chhattisgarh, the food is mainly rice-based, though fish and pork also feature heavily. In fact, pork is particularly important, as major ceremonies often start with a pig sacrifice.
Over in the west, rice, seafood and coconut milk are staples, particularly in Goa. Thanks to its Portuguese heritage, Goa has a cuisine that features plenty of Portuguese touches, including the popularity of seafood.
Gujarati cuisine, meanwhile, is largely vegetarian - expect plenty of roti (a kind of tradition flatbread), rice and daal.
Eastern food typically features a lot of fish, lentils and rice - particularly in places like Bengal and Oriya. The former cooks fish in a wide variety of ways, such as stewing with vegetables and steaming - and is known for its subtle flavours. It also has a reputation for its desserts, so this is definitely a good place to come if you have a sweet tooth!
In Bihar, meanwhile, dairy is very important in cooking - especially yoghurt, lassi and ghee (clarified butter).
Food in the south tends to be very spicy - particularly in places like Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Usually, the meat dishes in Kerala are hotter than the vegetarian ones (of which there are many), so if you're worried about setting your mouth on fire, opt for the latter! Keralan cooking also features fish, coconut milk, grated coconut and boiled rice quite heavily.
Puducherry, meanwhile, is a place where you can really taste its history, with its French and Indo style harking back to its time as a French settlement.
India has a fantastic street food culture, which means that a lot of the best taste sensations you can get here are to be found on street stalls rather than in restaurants. There's a huge array of dishes to choose from, but some particularly stand out, such as daulat ki chaat.
Often found in markets in Delhi, daulat ki chaat is a sweet-toothed traveller's dream. A very light dish, it is basically sweetened milk froth - and it's great for satisfying any dessert cravings while you're on the move.
Another great street food treat in Delhi is golgappas - a dough stuffed with a mixture of spicy potatoes and chickpeas, then deep-fried.
If you're looking for breakfast on the go, try idli, which is often found at street stalls in Kerala. This is a traditional breakfast and snack food in this part of the country, and it's made from a batter of fermented black lentils and rice. This is then steamed to form a small (and delicious!) cake.