During my time in India, after seeing multiple dead carcasses covered in flies in the heat, I didn’t want to eat meat. In fact, I barely noticed that meat was missing from my diet. If you do, however chose to order meat there, be especially careful about fish and seafood, I learnt that lesson in
In a lot of places, especially small local restaurants (which are the best and of course the cheapest) the menus are in Hindi. For the first few weeks I would order randomly off the menu and hope for the best. For your convenience I’ve translated menu basics here.
There’s a lot of different opinions about whether you should eat on the streets or local venues; my opinions is GO FOR IT!… with caution. Everything tastes better when you’re sitting with locals on the side of the road or in a dingy venue paying a tenth of what a tourist restaurant would charge you. Food is one of the best ways to experience culture, so don’t miss out on the experiences that traditional food in local settings offers when possible.
In regards to the following recommendations; each dish tends to change depending on the person who makes it. Furthermore, there are dishes in the South that you can’t find in the North and vice versa. My friend and India travel buddy, Chezarne collaborated with me to decide our fave Indian dishes:
Momos- I cannot emphasise this enough! Momos are actually a Tibetan dish, it is essentially a dumpling with all things good in it. The best I did was 8 momos for 20 rupees from a street vendor ($0.40 AUD). You can find them in many places in India, but the closer you get to Tibet the tastier, cheaper and more accessible they are.
Cashew Curry- Pretty self explanatory but none-the-less heavenly. Often a little more pricey than other options, but always worth it.
Kofta- Savoury balls made of paneer (cheese) or veggies.
Veggie Curry- So many variations; but personally I love spinach and potatoes.
Masala dosa- Savoury pancake with spiced vegetables inside, often with dipping sauces on the side. Not my choice, but Chezarne practically lived off them.
Dhal- Lentil curry. Super delish!
Samosa- Savoury pastry filled with veggies and spices. You can find this on any street for a cheap and easy snack.
Masala Chai- Technically not a dish but it needed a mention. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, so masala (spiced) chai for me works as a little pick me up, dessert or thirst quencher. There’s more often than not, a person with an open fire on the side of the road with a kettle of masai chai. Water is always boiled and therefore safe to drink.
Lassi- Again, not a meal but worth a mention. It’s similar to a yoghurt ‘milkshake’. Mango lassi is my favourite, but it varies very much depending on where you buy it. I’ve definitely had some bad lassi’s in my time. For added kick try a ‘bang lassi’ (hash lassi) but do so with caution.
Paneer- A kind of cheese, I stopped ordering things with paneer because I didn’t really like them. However, Chezarne loved it and ordered almost everything paneer, especially paneer tikka masala or palak paneer.
Naan & Chapati bread- always a party with chapati, both are delicious and a great excuse to eat with your hands.
Thali- Usually three or four different curries served on a tray with chapati/naan (bread) and rice. Good way to sample numerous curries at once.
Curd- Dessert like yoghurt; best with honey and bananas. One of the few desserts I really liked. Many of the sweet shops had disgustingly sweet treats including gulab jamuns.
Aloo Gobi- Spiced potatoes and cauliflower.