INDIAN FOOD EXPERIENCE IN INDIA
November 12, 2019
Indian food is one of the most diverse in the world and is also one of my personal favorites. It is as diverse as the country itself, from the fiery-hot delicacies of the north to the coconut-infused curries of the south to the sweet delights of the east to the sugar-laden gravies of the west. There is just so much variety that one cannot simply taste everything on a single trip here. I already visited the country twice and it still surprises me every time that there is always something new to try.
IS IT SAFE TO EAT LOCAL INDIAN FOOD AS A FOREIGNER?
The answer – it depends. There is a reason why the other term for Traveler’s Diarrhea is Delhi Belly, as many travelers reportedly contracted this in India. I fell victim to it on my first visit, after foolishly drinking a papaya shake in a local sweets shop. I nearly died of dehydration after 3 days of non-stop diarrhea. Luckily, I recovered after taking Ciprofloxacin.
On my second visit, I followed the following rules to avoid getting sick:
- Never consume anything with ice. They sometimes use dirty, contaminated water to make it.
- Never eat any raw vegetables or unpeeled fruits.
- Milk products such as yogurt and curd are safe to drink, but be wary of raw milk from an unknown source.
- Eat only at stalls where locals go. I also make sure that I see how they prepare the food.
Don’t fear Indian food! You will be missing a lot if you visit and not try it.
SOME OF THE INDIAN FOOD I TASTED
It will be impossible to create a full list of all Indian food in just a simple blog entry, so for this one, I will describe the food I tried when I visited the country. I assure you, you will be hungry after reading this post.
Indian roasted chicken marinated in yogurt and spices and then cooked in a tandoor oven. My friends in Pune brought me to a famous restaurant specializing in Tandoori Chicken, and it was one of the best meat dishes I ate during my stay there. The meat was succulent and the flavorful marinade permeated the chicken deeply.
These are dumplings commonly found in South Asian countries. They are similar to our siomai, except that they serve it in yogurt and chili-based sauce rather than soy sauce and kalamansi like we used to in the Philippines.
Golgappe, Tamatar Chaat, and Dahi Chaat
Golgappes are hollow crispy shells eaten with tamarind water, while Tamatar chaat is a tomato-peas-potato mishmash served with crispy onion and cilantro on top, and Dahi Chaat is a curd based sauce served with other items such as samosas, puris, etc.
I chanced upon Deena Chat Bandar, one of Varanasi’s most famous street food restaurants, while walking the streets of Varanasi, and that’s where I tasted these treats. I liked it so much that I went here twice during my stay.
Dahi Bhalla, Aloo Tikki, and Gulab Jamun
Dahi Bhallas are vadas soaked in a thick dahi sauce, while Aloo Tikki is a boiled potato dish seasoned with spices and cooked croquette style. Finally, Gulab Jamun is a milk-based dessert served with a sweet, syrupy sauce. I tasted all these on my 2nd visit to Deena Chat Bandar, and I loved everything! They were really good to cool down on the hot weather of Varanasi.
I tried this thali at Kesar da Dhaba, one of the food authorities in Amritsar. It consists of Chapati, raita, dhal fry, and plain channa. They will not serve you any cutleries; you eat everything with your RIGHT hand. It was a wonderful experience and the food was delicious and filling!
This is a typical breakfast dish that I tried in Mumbai. It consists of hard-boiled eggs cooked in a special curry sauce and eaten with naan, chapatti, or whichever bread you like.
Masala dosa is common breakfast food in the south that became famous throughout India. It is a huge dish of cooked batter made of soaked rice and lentils, folded with potato, cheese, or paneer filling, and then served with chutney and idli sambar. It was fun to see this being made (as you can see in the video).
Kachori Sabzi and Jalebi
Kachoris are puffed up pastries served with potato aloo and chutney, while jalebis are sweet desserts made of deep-fried flour and soaked in sugar syrup. I ate this at a local restaurant in Varanasi, and I saw how they cooked it from the restaurant’s veranda.
Ok, I know. Maggi is just instant noodles – but it is so famous in India that I think it needs its own entry here. I craved for something familiar after eating Indian food for weeks, so when I chanced upon a stall that sells these, I immediately ordered it. They added several other vegetables while cooking it, and I told them not to make it spicy. I also ordered it with momos to eat it Filipino-style (which my friend found so weird when I showed him the picture).
Pav Bhaji is commonly found in the Maharashtra region consisting of bread rolls served with thick, tomato-based curry and smothered with cheese. I did not really like it, or maybe because I tried a bland version? I will give this another try in the future.
I tasted this thali during Diwali at my friend’s house. It is a thali consisting of daal, baati, choorma sweets, rice, moong, and kadhi. I don’t even know half of these items, but let me tell you, they all taste good! My friend told me that this is a combination served only on special occasions.