Top 10 foods to try when in India

Indian food is feast for the taste buds. The variety of food you can find in India is countless. The Indian cuisine is as diverse as India itself. Here in India the food can be categorized mainly as North Indian and South Indian food. It can be further divided into region sub-groups such as Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Guajarati, Chettinad, Bengali, Mughali, Kashmiri and Hyderabadi. I will not be surprised if you add a few more regional cuisines to the list!

India is a land of festivals and every festival has its own special menu; every occasion also has a special menu and these are vary from region to region. Now, are you getting the idea of how many other varieties of cuisines you can expect in one cuisine called the Indian cuisine?

Most Indian dishes are full of spices hence the flavour and the colour. The most common spices and ingredients used in Indian cuisine include mustard, cumin, curry leaves, green coriander, garam masala (a masala made of select range of spices), tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ginger, along with the main ingredients such as the vegetables or lentils that go into it.

Do you know why did I am giving you this insight about the diversity and variety of Indian food? Because I find it very difficult to come up with the just top 10 amazing dishes which I can recommend to you on your visit to India. Yet here I am with my list of top 10 foods you cannot miss when in India.

The top 10 foods you must try when in India:

10. Thali

"Indian Thali"
The Indian Thali. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Thali is not a dish in itself but it is a combo of meals which comprises of a sweet dish, two or more curries, dal (lentils), usually steamed rice, pickle, puri/naan/chapatti (one of these Indian breads), papad (poppadoms), butter milk, one raita, one or more chutneys, and more or less depending upon whether you opt for the north Indian thali or south Indian thali and also the place you eat.

Thali, according to me is the best way to relish Indian meals as you get to taste a variety of dishes in one go and the added advantage of this is you pay less and taste more. In this concept of thali you need not order different dishes for one person and end up wasting more food and also spending more money. Just order a thali and you are done, no side dishes, no dessert…just the thali (by the way thali means plate, in this case, its means a thali or plateful of food).

 9. Dam Aloo

"Aloo Dam"
Dam Aloo

It is a side dish prepared with the so called baby aloos (potatoes) which are simmered in the gravy prepared with tomatoes, onions and variety of spices. It goes will with rice or nan breads. If you love curries, you’ll love the dam aloo.

8. Stuffed Paratha

"Stuffed Parathas"
Stuffed Parathas. Source: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Stuffed parathas are a kind of Indian bread which are made of either whole wheat flour or white flour and stuffed with a variety of stuffings. The stuffings can be potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, paneer (cottage cheese), and any other vegetables that you can think of.

7. Paalak Paneer or Sag Paneer

"Palak Paneer"
Palak Paneer: Source: lambdageek's photostream

Paalak means spinach and paneer means cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is either boiled in salt water or pan fried a little and added to spinach gravy. The spinach gravy is prepared by blending the slightly boiled palak along with ginger, garlic, green chilli and onion.

6. Samosa

Samosas

This is one of the favourite snacks of every Indian! You can’t come to India and not try the somosas out. It is a deep fried snack prepared by rolling the dough of white flour and then filling it with the mixture made of potatoes, green peas, garam masala, onions, chilli powder, fennel and salt. You’ll love it.

5. Chole Batura

"Chole Batura"
The Chole Batura

Chole batura can either be your breakfast, lunch, evening snack or dinner. Yes, you read it right. That is the beauty of this dish. Though it is a heavy meal, Indians do not hesitate to relish the flavours of chole batura any time of the day. Baturas are deep fried round Indian breads made of white flour. Chole is the side dish prepared with chick peas.

4. Biryani

Biryani

Birayani takes many forms and can be vegetable biryani or non-vegetarian. Either way, it is a dish you must give a shot. It is a rice preparation served with raita (yogurt with onions and shredded salad mainly cumumber).

3. Masala Dosa

"Masala Dosa"
Masala Dosa

It is form of thin pan cake prepared with the batter which is fermented over night. The batter is made of rice and white lentil (something called the udad dal). It is severed with potatoes, chutney and sambar.

2. Rasgola/Gulab Jamoon/Jalebi/ Gajar ka Halwa

Rasgola
The Indian sweet "Rasgola"

When in India, sweets and deserts cannot be left behind. But I am sorry I cannot really suggest just one dessert out of the hundreds of choices. These are the 4 desserts that made to my top 10 list. “Gajar ka halwa” is prepared with carrots, Jalebis are the deep fried gram flour savouries which are then dipped into the sugar syrup, Jamoons are deep fried balls made of condensed milk called “khoya” which are then added to sugar syrup. The Rasgola is a Bengali sweet prepared by boiling “paneer” in sugar syrup.

1. Chaats

Chaat
The Chaat - The number 1 food you must try in India. Source: Shruti Rathnagiriswaran's photostream

The king of all dishes! They are mostly had as starters or evening snack. Chaat is not the name of one dish but include a variety of other dishes mainly pani puri, sev puri, pav baaji, to name a few. Tamarind, chilli powder, curds, onions, tomatoes and sev (vermicelli) are the key ingredients that go into most of these chaats famously known as street food.

If you have travelled to India or if you live in India, I would like to hear your favourite Indian dishes. Don’t be shy; leave the name of your favourite Indian dish in the comment box.

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Shalu Sharma

Shalu Sharma is a blogger and a writer from Bihar, India. She is the founder of YouBihar, the Bihar social networking site and writer on tourism in India. Apart from blogging, she is also a mother who does cooking and washing. She also watches movies and read other blogs. You can follow her on .

109 thoughts on “Top 10 foods to try when in India

  • June 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm
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    Nice compilation but I think due oversight you have posted a pic of masala dosa for stuffed paratha.
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    • June 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm
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      Thank you. Corrected. Now stuffed parathas on its original place.
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  • June 27, 2012 at 11:51 am
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    I just cannot resist the sweets mentioned here. All four of them are my favorites.
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  • June 28, 2012 at 4:23 am
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    A wonderful mouth watering list! I absolutely love each and everyone of the dishes you have mentioned here. Lovely post. :)

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  • July 2, 2012 at 11:23 am
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    you left out the NON veg dishes ..

    I want all the ten at ONE TIMEeeeeeeeeee pleaseeeeeeee
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  • July 7, 2012 at 3:08 am
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    Nothing is really more appealing to tourists other than food. The food of a country shows the nature and persona of the people living in it. So, if you really want to understand people, you better see them prepare the food and know the meaning behind them.

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  • July 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm
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    Some of my favorites are on this list! Samosas are very tasty, but they can also be fiery. Every time I had dum aloo in India, it was stuffed with paneer. So good! For meat eaters, butter chicken and lal maas are very good. On the sweets list, try barfi. It looks like white fudge. Delicious!

    I’ll take this list with me on my next trip and try some of the things I haven’t had yet. This trip will include a walk through Chandni Chowk and sampling street food. Yum!

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    • July 8, 2012 at 8:31 pm
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      Hi Marie, indeed Samosas are great, they are just phenomenal. My favourite sweet has always been “ras gullas”.
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    • March 12, 2013 at 9:34 am
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      When in Delhi – also try moong halwa in Sadar Bazaar. You also get great chola-bhatoora and rajma-chaawal in Delhi. And, of course, don’t forget the paraanthe-wali-gully when at Chandni Chowk.

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  • July 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm
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    All those foods look good. I really like the pan bread. These dishes look good.

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  • August 3, 2012 at 4:47 am
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    I love Indian dishes, specially spicy ones such as Rajasthani dishes. yumyyyyyy… 😀

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  • August 26, 2012 at 6:23 am
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    Of all the things I did in India (the only time I’ve been) what I enjoyed the most was eating. Samosas, thali, biryani, falooda… but my favorite of them all was by far the glorious Masala Dosa. I had it almost every breakfast for the 3 months I spent there for vacations. Wish I could go back now for just one more 😉
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    • August 28, 2012 at 3:32 pm
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      Margarita, indeed they are lovely. My favorite has also been the masala Dosa. No dish can beat the malsala dosa.
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  • August 31, 2012 at 6:13 am
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    the pictures above looks so delicious I will try one of those recipes.

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  • September 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm
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    I love Sag Paneer, always getting that at curry houses and I would very much like to try the genuine article in India
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  • September 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm
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    I believe Biriyaani is a dish from kerala. I love Biriyaani and is the most common dish people prefer when they got to hotels in Kerala.

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  • September 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm
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    Last time I came to kerala I had Masala Dosa.I dont live the outer covering but the “Masala” inside is supers and still mouth watering. I had it from Indian Coffee House.

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  • October 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm
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    You can get all of these in my local Indian restaurant however as much as they are cooked by local chefs and close to local ingredients they are without a doubt nothing like the real life food from india itself – nice list and I’ll be sure to try everything when I visit the place
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  • February 5, 2013 at 11:50 am
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    Any visitor to India, specifically Delhi, should also not miss trying Rajasthani and Marwari food at Shraman restaurant. They serve some fabulous delights like Dal Batti Churma, Jodhpuri Mirchi ka Pakora, Papad aur Mangori ki Subzi and Paan Patta Chaat.

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    • March 12, 2013 at 9:38 am
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      Yes, daal-baati… also tastes yummy with a side dish of baingan-ka-bhartha!

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  • February 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm
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    Any visitor to India, specifically Delhi, should also not miss trying Rajasthani and Marwari food at Shraman restaurant. They serve some fabulous delights like Dal Batti Churma, Jodhpuri Mirchi ka Pakora, Papad aur Mangori ki Subzi and Paan Patta Chaat.

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  • February 6, 2013 at 9:28 am
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    Few of my favorites are here, If you’re in the capital city and want to try Sarson ka Saag and Makki ki Roti, go to Punjab Grill. They have a brilliant ongoing Winter Menu. Absolutely delightful!

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  • February 14, 2013 at 11:41 am
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    I like very much – Sarson ka Saag and Makkai ki Roti, Any Punjabi winter menu is incomplete without Sarson ka Saag and Makkai ki Roti. We were realy glad for that Punjab Grill didn’t leave this off the menu.

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    • March 12, 2013 at 9:43 am
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      For the uninitiated – sarson ka saag is mustard leaves cooked in mild spices and makkai ki roti is Indian bread made from corn-flour and ideally fried with ghee. Aha! The way I am commenting on this thread, it’s proven! I am a fanatic foodie…

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  • March 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm
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    I love indian food and I am sold when it comes to bryani. I’ve never tried stuffed paratha and would sure love to try that.
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  • April 3, 2013 at 1:41 am
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    Weew I love indian food especially Dam Aloo. Dan Aloo is one of my favorite food

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  • April 16, 2013 at 6:18 am
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    A wonderful mouth watering list! I absolutely love each and everyone of the dishes you have mentioned here. Lovely post.

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  • April 16, 2013 at 7:35 am
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    I like your point with regards on your post, It seems to be interesting and great to hang out with friends.

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  • April 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm
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    I think I’m going to like rasgola. It is seems similar with siopao. The thing is it made for sweet.
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  • May 11, 2013 at 10:21 am
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    i am on a fortnight long trip to India and ate Biriyani today, I don’t remember which type it was but tasted heavenly. It’s the best food I have every savored on this planet. But unfunately its very hot in Mumbai. I wish I had some more time to enjoy the monsoon in India too.

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    • May 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm
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      Hey Paul
      I am glad you liked the biryani. In fact, I love biryani myself. Invite me any day for Biryani. As for Mumbai, I agree – unfortunately its way too hot even for Indians. Thanks for comment.
      Best wishes to you.
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  • May 22, 2013 at 4:45 am
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    forgot almost all South Indian dishes except dosa. A day starts with Idli vada in South India( I think 1/3 of Indian population)

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  • June 8, 2013 at 6:06 pm
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    very comprehensive and helpful post, will come in handy when I visit India this year. I’ve tried the Thali, stuffed parathas and masala dosa in Malaysia a few years back.

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  • July 20, 2013 at 7:01 am
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    Hmmm yummy. India has the best food in the world. 😀

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  • August 6, 2013 at 5:21 am
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    all is nice food, Thali thali and thali. thats is a very good food

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  • August 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm
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    I must say, what I look forward to most is a spice from india. Actually Turmeric in the natural form rather than ground up as we normally see it

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  • August 12, 2013 at 11:12 am
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    all Indian sweet dishes and fast food are my favourite one. Excellent article on our food culture. I also suggest everyone try this atleast once you really loved it.

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  • August 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm
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    Dam Aloo is my favorite Indian food.thanks for your popular delicious Indian food list
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  • August 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm
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    It’s perfect article for foreigner who wants to try food in India but with great tips of food. I like these all foods.
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  • September 10, 2013 at 8:20 am
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    I am proud to be an Indian our culture, our food, our togetherness is really awesome and are the best example of unity as what i think. Thanks for sharing this blog its really tempting.

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  • September 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm
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    This is nice collection of fantastic food. Would love to have one of them one day. Thank you for sharing.

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  • October 2, 2013 at 10:04 am
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    hello shalu,

    Nice work, nice presentation i love indian thali much..
    i relly missed.

    thank you ..

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  • February 27, 2014 at 8:29 am
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    Wow yummy foods! I want to try to eat it. Looks delicious. I wonder what is the recipe of that. It’s like the Philippine food. Yummy also.

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  • March 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm
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    India is one of the best country in the world for providing n number of tasty dishes. Thank u Shalu for this Article. Rajdoot The Indian Restaurant is also providing these dishes in Calgary, Canada
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  • March 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm
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    Chaats is the best i think…please share how to cook it and recipe too

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  • March 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm
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    you forget about the Pohhas that the basic thing everybody likes to take in breakfast

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  • March 25, 2014 at 1:34 am
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    I really love the food! Specially Samosa. I miss the flavor and I miss eating it with spice!

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  • March 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm
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    Nowadays Chinese food like noodles and momos are also becoming common street food in India.Certainly Samosa with chatni is best of all

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  • April 18, 2014 at 9:13 pm
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    I have lived in Vancouver for 9 years and I am a big fan of Indian cuisine. I have tried most of it and all were absolutely delicious.

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  • April 28, 2014 at 7:18 am
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    Wow this list is just tasty tasty. Most of them are my favorites!!. Shalu it is really amazing how you have put all mu favorites together at one place……… 😛

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  • May 27, 2014 at 11:46 pm
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    Wow I’m all set if I visit Indian. Looks delicious.

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  • June 5, 2014 at 5:41 pm
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    samosa is best cheapest and taste is great….!!
    thanks for the post

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  • July 3, 2014 at 6:48 pm
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    India is one of the best country in the world for providing n number of tasty dishes. Thank u Shalu for this Article. Rajdoot The Indian Restaurant is also providing these dishes in Calgary, Canada

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  • July 16, 2014 at 4:26 am
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    I love samosa! Chaat looks very appetizing. Here we have something that looks like stuffed paratha which we call ‘Murtabak’ and it’s stuffed with veggies and chicken/meat/sardines.

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  • August 14, 2014 at 5:46 pm
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    yummy list..consist of different tastes. sweet as well as spicy with the chaats being the best. Can’t resist myself from having one of these dishes 😉
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  • August 14, 2014 at 5:49 pm
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    yummy list..consist of different tastes. sweet as well as spicy with the chaats being the best. Can’t resist myself from having one of these dishes
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  • August 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm
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    Woooow, all the recipes look so great and yummy. Thanks for sharing =)

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  • October 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm
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    hey shalu ji…you have brought water in my mouth, and you have the best food that everyone should try…now bye i am going to have chaat..

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  • January 14, 2015 at 2:25 am
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    I miss eating samosa, I wonder what’s the taste of Thali? I feel hungry every time I look at the picture.

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  • January 27, 2015 at 3:28 am
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    Those looks so good! I’ve always wanted to see India and plan to one of these days. Would you know where to find recipes for some of these dishes in the meantime? It would be great to learn to make them myself too.

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  • January 29, 2015 at 8:08 pm
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    Stuffed Paratha is definitely my favorite Indian food. Goes great with most curries. I’d love to actually try it in India itself. One day I’ll get there

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  • February 9, 2015 at 10:28 am
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    Hmmm these foods look really tasty, would love to try some. 😀

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  • February 16, 2015 at 10:38 pm
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    hi

    mmhhhhh.. reading this article and its making me hungry

    i am Guju so i wish you can consider some Gujrati dish like “surti undhiyu” and there are many more

    nice article i am loving it

    Reply
  • March 12, 2015 at 2:41 am
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    parata stuffed that in my country Indonesia known as the bread maryam, it felt good.

    Indoneisa people usually enjoy this menu disore day with milk topping, cuklat, cheese or with added curry sauce delicious.

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  • March 12, 2015 at 1:58 pm
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    Great !! I just surprised but confused which I will take from here. Each recipe is so delicious. But there have some recipes which might be out of diet system. Anyway, I am really interested with all of the recipes here.

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  • March 15, 2015 at 12:19 am
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    I want to go to India just to try these delicious dishes :)

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  • April 7, 2015 at 5:49 am
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    India’s food same with Indonesian’s Food
    But this information is greats guys thanks…

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  • April 16, 2015 at 5:19 pm
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    Great list,nice compilation,by the way i love India’s food,i visited India a few years ago and i full in love with a lot of recipe that i found so so so delicious and healthy.Thank you for the post.

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  • April 22, 2015 at 12:01 pm
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    Most of the Indian people love to eat Biryani with Spicy. In this article there are lot of mouth watering food. Thanks for sharing.

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  • April 27, 2015 at 6:01 am
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    I have not been to India before. However, this summer my family will come to Delhi for vacation, I and my family will try these foods that you recommeded above.Thanks for your recommeded!

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  • May 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm
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    This is a great list. India is one of the best country in the world for providing n number of tasty dishes.
    My favorite has also been the masala Dosa

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  • May 13, 2015 at 7:57 am
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    Hi shalu, Its a really nice read. It would be appreciable if you add some of India’s non veg dishes because majority of the population in the world is of non vegetarians and in India we do have some really great dishes in Chicken. Apart from that your article was just mouth-watering. :)

    Reply
  • May 27, 2015 at 3:21 am
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    Indian food is so spicy even Thai food can’t match. Im Thai and usually eat strong taste and spicy food but when i tried indian food. . . it’s like ohhh this is too spicy

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  • June 4, 2015 at 7:10 pm
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    Wow, awesome post… I can say it as Mouth Watering treat :) Anyways I guess you missed the most popular dish of India and that is Biryani.

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  • June 9, 2015 at 5:24 pm
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    Awesome list of foods and i love every thing in list especially dosa and chole bhatura.
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  • June 14, 2015 at 5:33 am
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    top notch information.love those pictures and Indian food.thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • July 26, 2015 at 1:59 pm
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    Nice Health tips and site.
    I like this site and all set. Good health is important to the happiness and professional life. I have a knowledge on the subject. and have such site, you can see it.
    site is dietary control.

    Reply
  • August 13, 2015 at 5:03 pm
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    I never try this kind of foods, but it looks interesting i wanna try this if i could get there.

    Reply
  • September 11, 2015 at 7:39 pm
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    Really great and Help full article i have ever read . i will try this Food when i will be there ,I also have collected some great food , you might want to check this too:

    Reply
  • September 12, 2015 at 4:08 pm
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    Hi,

    I love rajma chawal and khadi chawal..Anyone else here like those foods of India.

    Thanks,
    Suman

    Reply
  • November 12, 2015 at 11:47 am
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    Delicious! Food lover surely gonna try these yummy Indian food items
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  • January 12, 2016 at 8:46 am
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    your post is awesome.i like indian food very much.and i also got more informatioon about indian foods.

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  • February 2, 2016 at 8:52 am
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    i think Indian foods one of famous foods in the world.i have taken lot of Indian foods and those foods are very interested.the people who live in out of India they can try Indian foods.

    Reply

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