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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73 Responses to “Top 10 foods to try when in India”

  1. A well compiled list , i liked your presentation

    readitt.in (the emagazine)
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  2. magiceye says:

    Nice compilation but I think due oversight you have posted a pic of masala dosa for stuffed paratha.
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  3. nice compilation.. each of these items have dozens of varieties as well
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  4. Amit says:

    Great!…

    Well done….

  5. Medha says:

    I just cannot resist the sweets mentioned here. All four of them are my favorites.
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  6. Raj says:

    A wonderful mouth watering list! I absolutely love each and everyone of the dishes you have mentioned here. Lovely post. :)
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  7. meoww says:

    Yummy countdown! You are making me hungry now!
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  8. Bikram says:

    you left out the NON veg dishes ..

    I want all the ten at ONE TIMEeeeeeeeeee pleaseeeeeeee
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  9. Raavi says:

    Such a great article mam, Muhaa love indian foods.
    Very nice blog.
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  10. John Ernest says:

    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.

  11. MarieMcC says:

    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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  12. Netarum says:

    This article is very good. Thank you
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  13. Michael Belk says:

    All those foods look good. I really like the pan bread. These dishes look good.
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  14. JessieBasu says:

    I love Indian dishes, specially spicy ones such as Rajasthani dishes. yumyyyyyy… :D
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  15. Margarita says:

    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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  16. jelly says:

    the pictures above looks so delicious I will try one of those recipes.

  17. Robert says:

    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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  18. Arun Naik says:

    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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  19. Anjana says:

    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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  20. Surminga says:

    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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  21. Nelieta says:

    Ooh the food looks absolutely delicious! Is it very spicy? Great article and thank you for sharing!
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  22. Mallikka says:

    A very good selection of the Indian dishes. Rajma Chawal can we also considered.
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  23. Shraman says:

    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.

  24. Sanoj says:

    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.

  25. sanoj says:

    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!

  26. Punjab Grill says:

    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.

    • Justin says:

      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…

  27. Lily says:

    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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  28. bondi conveyancing says:

    Weew I love indian food especially Dam Aloo. Dan Aloo is one of my favorite food
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  29. Jessica says:

    A wonderful mouth watering list! I absolutely love each and everyone of the dishes you have mentioned here. Lovely post.

  30. James says:

    I like your point with regards on your post, It seems to be interesting and great to hang out with friends.

  31. Michael says:

    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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  32. 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.

    • Shalu Sharma says:

      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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  33. seb powen says:

    forgot almost all South Indian dishes except dosa. A day starts with Idli vada in South India( I think 1/3 of Indian population)

  34. Dave says:

    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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  35. Wawan says:

    Hmmm yummy. India has the best food in the world. :D

  36. all is nice food, Thali thali and thali. thats is a very good food, whats is recipe for make tHali?
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  37. me says:

    all is nice food, Thali thali and thali. thats is a very good food

  38. Nicola says:

    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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  39. Restaurant in Newport says:

    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.

  40. Likhon says:

    Dam Aloo is my favorite Indian food.thanks for your popular delicious Indian food list
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  41. Indian Food Recipes says:

    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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  42. Restaurant in Newport says:

    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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  43. mohaz says:

    This is nice collection of fantastic food. Would love to have one of them one day. Thank you for sharing.
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  44. cristina says:

    hello shalu,

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

    thank you ..

  45. Saiful Islam says:

    Hello, Your sweet item and all others item are so cute. Your presentation also creative.
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  46. grace says:

    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.

  47. JHON Q says:

    OoOo India is sooo amazing , Everything about it is great , exotic people , food , traditions those are my kind of places to visit along with Morocco ,
    Morocco has a very famous Dish to try as well called :
    CHICKEN TAGINE
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  48. Indian Restaurant Calgary says:

    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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  49. selawe says:

    Chaats is the best i think…please share how to cook it and recipe too
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  50. Suprabhat says:

    you forget about the Pohhas that the basic thing everybody likes to take in breakfast
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  51. Filipino Food Recipe says:

    I really love the food! Specially Samosa. I miss the flavor and I miss eating it with spice!

  52. Nowadays Chinese food like noodles and momos are also becoming common street food in India.Certainly Samosa with chatni is best of all

  53. Chuck says:

    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.

  54. 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……… :P
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  55. Tom says:

    Wow I’m all set if I visit Indian. Looks delicious.

  56. PRASHANT says:

    samosa is best cheapest and taste is great….!!
    thanks for the post

  57. harsh says:

    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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  58. names, it is a little strange. but these dishes deserves to be taste

  59. Ismail N says:

    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.

  60. Karan Bhagat says:

    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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  61. Karan Bhagat says:

    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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  62. Ahmed Taha says:

    Woooow, all the recipes look so great and yummy. Thanks for sharing =)
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