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Our Favourite Indian Foods
Whilst three weeks in India is nowhere near enough time to scratch the surface of the country or it’s culinary delights, we gave it our best attempt and pretty much ate our way through India. We lost count of the number of curries we had but think it was somewhere in the region of 50 each.
We flew into Mumbai, then travelled down to South Goa, after which we went to Mangalore, Mysore, Nagarahole, Kochi, Munnar, Allepey and finally jumped on a flight up to, and then out of Kolkata. This meant we didn’t get to sample many dishes from the rest of India (although in Mumbai food from all over can be found), so this is by no means an exhaustive list. One day we’ll return and when we do we’ll update this list with any new delicious discoveries.
This is the Parsi take on scambled eggs and a much superior version too in my opinion. This breakfast meal, is made differently by every family which means ingredients may vary. It’s usually made with scrambled eggs, mixed with tomatoes, onions, chillies, and garnished with fresh coriander. Sometimes milk, cumin powder, curry leaves, ginger and garlic are also added. Akuri is usually served on toast and is a brilliant start to the day.
I seriously can’t rave about these morsels of deliciousness enough, which are Mumbai’s most popular street food. However we weren’t ready to risk the hygiene of the street food quite so early in our trip so headed to the highly recommended Elco Pani Puri Centre for brunch one day. It’s the most popular Pani Puri house in Mumbai and rightly so, we managed to demolish over 30 between us!
Spicy Mushroom Hakka
If you’re a mushroom lover like me then this is the one for you. Usually served as an appetiser or starter, it’s mushrooms stirfried in soy sauce, garlic, chillies and maybe some spring onions. They vary in heat, but the ones I had in Leopold Cafe and Bar in Mumbai were very spicy indeed, great if you like some heat.
An stuffed version of the South Indian ‘Dosa’, which is a thin pancake made of fermented batter, black gram and rice. Masala Dosa is stuffed with a filling mixture of boiled potatoes, fried onions and spices, with a topping of lemon juice, coriander and coconut. In Mysore the dish is adapted further with a smear of chilli chutney on the dosa before it’s stuffed with the potato mixture.
Roti, Chapati, and Paratha
Dal Fry is traditionally made with yellow lentils which are boiled until soft, onions, tomatoes and spices are fried in ghee then added to the they are then added to dal and mashed together. It has a medium to thick consistency.
Dal Tadka starts out in the same way as Dal Fry, but towardsthe end the a selection of spices are heated in hot oil to release the flavours (tempered), creating Tadka which is then added to the dal before serving.
Kitchari Dal is otherwise known as Spiced Yellow Dal and is made from yellow split mung beans and of course spices. It has a much more soupy texture and is also said to have digestive properties. Dal is normally served with rice or some type of flatbread.
This inexpensive meal is best described as a buffet for one and usually comes in a meat or vegetarian option. Served on a metal tray or large plate are several small bowls around the edge and a pile of rice in the centre. The small bowls contain various curries, dhals, vegetables, sauces, and curd, possibly accompanied by a papadam or chapati. Traditionally Thali is eaten with the fingers of the right hand, it gives the perfect opportunity to try several Indian foods at the same time…perfect!
Andy’s go-to vegetarian side was Aloo Gobi, a substantial potato and cauliflower dish with onion and a hint of tomato, plus green chillies, garlic, ginger and spices.
Mixed Vegetable Curry
Bhindi Ki Subji
A very simple but tasty side dish Bhindi Ki Subji is sliced Okra (ladies fingers), stirfried with onions, chillies and spices. This was another of my go-to vegetarian side dishes, second to Hakka Mushrooms of course.
A traditional Indian street food, these are are a deep fried, crispy triangular shell usually stuffed with vegetables, but also sometimes meat. The most common filling that we saw was curried potatoes and peas. These are delicious as a quick snack whilst out and about or as a starter in a restaurant. They are at their best when still hot, crunchy and flaky.
Also know as Pakoda, Pakora are another deep fried street food snack or starter. They are chopped vegetables such as onions, potatoes, cauliflower and aubergine (eggplant), dipped in spicy garam flour batter and deep fried. Sometime paneer cheese is also used.
Usually a basmati rice based dish mixed with meat and/ or vegetables and spices. There are so many Biryani varieties in India, it would be difficult for me to even guess which is the best. A matter of taste I would imagine.
We sampled Kozikhode Biryani in Alleppey in Kerala, where it’s mostly served with mutton. We didn’t fancy that though and went for a vegetarian version. It sounds like quite a simple dish but the expert mix of spices such as saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, star anise, cardamon etc. gives some unexpected layers to the taste. Sometimes it’s also served with chutney and raita (yoghurt and mint).
Tandoori Red Snapper
Goan King Fish Curry
One of the staple foods in Goa is fish curry. This tends to be an aromatic, sour, hot and spicy, coconut based, curry served with rice. Many types of fish can be used but the most popular is Kingfish, which is what we had in our fish curry during our stay in Palolem in South Goa.
The most popular Indian drink, was also Andy’s favourite. It’s a black tea infused with crushed spices such as cardamom, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. It’s heated in a pan, then mixed with sugar and milk to create a very aromatic, sweet, hot drink. You can buy Masala Chai from Chai Wallah’s (vendors) on nearly every street corner in India. The Wallah’s even jump on trains as they pull into a station, so you’ll never be thirsty for long.
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Although much of above list is vegetarian or seafood that wasn’t deliberate. We weren’t scared off meat by the many people that insist eating it in India makes you sick, far from it. It was just that much of the food in India (except maybe as you move North) is mainly vegetarian (and seafood on the coast), so it just happened. We did have chicken on a couple of occasions and felt no ill effects whatsoever. I can’t wait to return to India and try more of the amazing food it has to offer.
Have you been to India? What were your favourite foods that we should try next time we’re there?
P.S. Read more about India via the following link:
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