Why do we live? Why do we earn? Yes, the answer is one- to eat! India is the land of diversity and when it comes to food, each region, each state in the country has so many unique dishes to offer. It is every foodie’s dream to come to India at least once and taste as many dishes as one can. I am particularly in awe of each unique dish each state has to offer. Picking out ten dishes from such a wide variety was so difficult! I wanted to put in every dish I could think of. Alas! Some other day. For now, here are some of the most delicious dishes every Indian swears by.
This is a South Indian signature dish which is a pancake made of a rice batter and lentils. It is a very time consuming dish to prepare- the rice and daal batter is fermented overnight and then mixed with water. No wonder, no pains no gains. The fluffy layer and the potato mixture inside tastes heavenly. There are a wide varieties of dosa available in the market- cheese, onion, masala, sada and what not? The best part about dosa is that it is served with two bowls full of sambar and a white thick coconut and cashew nut chutney. The price is unbelievably cheap and it is so filling that you might have it for lunch or dinner.
No Indian meal is complete without a sweet dish. Desserts are so crucial to an Indian meal that when a newlywed bride comes home to her in-laws, the first meal she makes is a dessert, mostly kheer. It is as tasty as it is simple to make. It is nothing but a rice pudding and is also known as payasam, payesh, ksheeram in different parts of the country. The flavours that blend into a bowl of kheer are amazing- cardamom, cashews, raisins, almonds, saffron, pistachio and what not? In Bnegal, payesh is regarded as an auspicious food dish and is a must-have in every Bengali festival.
8. Rogan Josh
This dish particularly originated in Persia but has been a staple dish in India. It is a Kashmiri signature dish, which was brought to Kashmir by the Mughals, thanks to them! Rogan Josh is one of the main dishes of an ideal Kashmiri meal. Small lamb chunks are cooked in yoghurt, garlic and a rich mixture of spices like cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. However, there is a lot of difference in the ways the Hindus and Muslims prepare this dish. The rich red colour comes from the use of whole de seeded dried chilies.
7. Aloo ka Paratha
No Indian household is complete without parathas. It is opular in every part of India- irrespective of the cuisine. A paratha is nothing but a flatbread made of wheat flour and is friend in oil or butter or ghee for that richness and finger licking taste. It becomes aloo paratha mashed potatoes and spices are stuffed in it while rolling out and then the same process of frying in ghee or butter follows. Sounds simple? You should taste it once before giving your verdict. It is generally had with lassi or chutney or some hot and sour pickle and onions slices. It is so filling that even one piece of aloo ka paratha might take up the entire place in your tummy.
6. Butter Chicken
Chicken is an Indian household’s best friend. Though butter chicken is a staple food of North India, it is widely worshipped in every household. The amount of time that goes into its preparation is the proof that how amazingly awesome it tastes. The chicken is marinated overnight with yoghurt, ginger, garlic, garam masala, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, chili and a lot of other such spices. The authentic preparation requires the chicken to be cooked on a tandoor. The gravy is even more yummier! Punjabis and Haryanvis can have it at any time of the day. So do we!
5. Gajar ka Halwa
Look at that colour, that texture! And then have a spoonful of it and it makes sure you don’t stop at one spoon. That’s the power of an ideal bowl of gajar ka halwa! It is basically a carrot pudding. Yes, that’s the capability we Indians have, to turn a vegetable into a dessert which is loved by one and all! The grated carrot is cooked in a pan of milk and sugar on a low flame for a long time, stirring it continuously till the milk starts thickening. After it is cooked, it is garnished with nuts and almonds and cashews and pistachios for that added amount of flavor. It is such a popular dessert that it has made its way to many Hindi films and soaps, time and again!
4. Dum Biriyani
We can never ever thank the Mughal Dynasty ever for this awesome dish they gave us. In fact, this dish is so loved that it divides the country in three regions- Hyderabadi Biryani, Lucknow Biryani and Calcutta Biryani. My vote obviously goes to the Calcutta Biryani for obvious reasons and also because that huge piece of a soft, tender all, which make it unique and different for its counterparts. Now comes the real part- the preparation. Biryani preparation is an art in itself- not the popular versions we make at home, but the authentic version! It is cooked over pieces of coal and not just any fire, and the pot is sealed with a wheat dough, so that it is finely cooked with all the flavors inside. And what comes out after the seal is opened, we just don’t need to tell that, do we?
3. Mughlai Paratha
The name of the dish is self explanatory- it was a staple food of the Mughals. This is basically a street food which is popular in Bengal and other parts of the country as well. The preparation is easy. The dough is flattened to make a chapatti and then the stuffing of chicken and egg goes inside. Once the stuffing is done, the chapatti is carefully sealed from all sides and then shallow fried in the pan. It can be served with yoghurt or ketchup or mint chutney, it tastes equally delicious with every serving.
2. Kati Roll
This is a Kolkata street food which originated from kati kebab. The kebab was enclosed and wrapped in a paratha. But with time, the dish has evolved itself and Bengalis swear by this dish. Today, the roll can have any fillinf according to the taste of an individual and now is a worldwide phenomenon.
1. Ilish Paturi
Ilish or hilsa fish is as dear to Bengalis as dhokla is to Gujratis, tandoori chicken is to Punjabis, biryani is to Muslims- you get the drift, right? Ilish is the king of fishes and though the price remains sky high, it does not deter the living-for-food Bengali community from having it. Ilish paturi is a dish that pretty much sums up Bengali cuisine. The fish is smoked with mustard, green chili paste and other such spices and then wrapped in a banana leaf and then cooked again. The best part about this dish is that it is served along with the banana leaf covering, so that when once opens it, the delicious smell of the flavors strikes the nose and the fish remains tender.