Your discovery of North India is not complete without experiencing the delights of Indian cuisine. As rich and diverse as the country itself, Indian specialties vary according to the regions.
Let’s take a closer look at one of the most perfumed cuisine in the world, for a journey full of flavours! First steps with gourmet India
In order to avoid getting lost in the multitude of Indian dishes, start by keeping in mind two particularities of the Indian cooking: it is generally vegetarian and spicy. Travellers who are anxious thinking they will have to eat the same dish will be surprised by the amazing amount of recipes. And for those whose stomachs prefer to avoid spices, you can take baby steps as you dive into these new flavours. Ask for ‘not spicy’ meals to begin with, and then gradually introduce chili into your meals.
Some specialties you have to try
Try lentils, the famous “dhal”, which can be cooked in different ways and prepared with a multitude of spices. You will find this dish everywhere during your travel in North India.
“Paneer” is a fresh cheese that is similar to Italian mozzarella and that is used in plenty of vegetarian dishes. A meal made with fresh paneer is a delicious treat!
In North India, your saucy dishes (curries) will most often be served with small breads instead of rice. “Roti” and “chapatti” are the most eaten sorts of bread in North India and accompany all the meals. Maybe you will prefer the delicious “butter naan“, with cheese or garlic. These are cooked inside the “tandoor“, this famous traditional clay oven.
If a red or green chili sneaked into your dish and burnt your mouth, order a “raita“. This fresh yoghurt dish, often enhanced with cucumbers, tomatoes and coriander, has the virtue to calm down burning mouths. If you would like to get more information about the best restaurants, your local travel agency in North India, Shanti Travel, will be very happy to share with you its best addresses.
To end with a sweet touch and a typically Indian treat, try the “gulab jamun”, small balls of semolina that are served with a rose syrup. In Delhi, the best and most famous pastries are the “jalebis”, meaning “marvels” in Hindi. Prepared with sugar, honey, cardamom and sometimes ghee (clarified butter), these are eaten warm, in the street or in most of the restaurants.
The Moghol Heritage and meat
You will notice it during your tailor-made trip in North India that in Punjab and Delhi we eat more meat. Mutton and chicken predominantly (beef and pork are both forbidden in Hinduism and Islam). In Delhi, try a “tandoori chicken” marinated chunks cooked on brooches in a ‘tandoor’ oven. Delicious kebabs skewers or meat balls cooked in a yoghurt sauce (kofta) are specialties influenced by the Persian civilization. A dish that you will find in many North Indian restaurants is the famous “butter chicken“, not spicy and flavored with turmeric, cumin, coriander.
It’s important to slowly introduce your tummy to Indian cuisine. It is best to wait a couple of days before enjoying local street food: give yourself some time to adjust to the new flavours you’ll be experiencing. Enjoy the fruits like bananas, apples, mangos and papayas – just make sure you peel them first! Here in the office we love fresh juices, like cucumber, carrot and lemon juice!
During your holidays in North India, in Rajasthan for example, a good way to test different specialties during a meal is “thali“. This is a meal-platter served in a metal plate and generally composed of 5 dishes, with a little bit of rice, chapati and even a desert. With enough chapati or roti, you can easily eat like Indians: without a fork and knife!