Sole Food: Guide to Indian Eats

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I was salivating all the way to India.

For years I'd been dreaming of coming to India armed with a hungry stomach. I've been wanting to taste their curries, lassis, chai and samosas. I've longed to try those fragrant saffron flavored dishes and savory dal. I've imagined tasting butter nan that melts in your mouth.

Before coming to India, I've received unsolicited advice from many people, mostly about food: Don't try streetfood, you'll get food posoining. Don't drink tap water, it's very dirty. You're sure to get tummy trouble in India, everyone does. And did I listen? If you know me well, you know I don't take even the best advice. And that included the aforementioned warnings. I simply have to try things firsthand.

It's official: I'm the proud owner of an iron stomach. One that's been strengthened by years of eating Philippine streetfood and drinking tap water in Manila.

Here are some of the food and drinks I've tried in India and a few tips on how to eat like a local:

Samosa and Kachori

A samosa is a stuffed pastry that's usually triangular in shape. The shell is usually stuffed with potatoes, peas and lentils. Kachori is similar only in a bun shape. They're both served with a chili or sweet sauce.

samosas
Photo Credit: penguincakes

Kachori

Chapati, Roti or Nan

This is unleavened flatbread that goes well with vegetable or non-vegetable dishes. You can also eat it by itself. But it tastes so great when you dip it in curry dishes.

Thali

This is the best thing we've discovered in India. Set meals buffet style! If you order thali, you usually get 4-6 vegetable dishes like lentils, curry or spinach ( or non-veg in some restaurants). It comes with rice, chapati, papad, kurd (yogurt) and sometimes with dessert. This is usually 'refillable' so you can ask for more if you're still hungry or just feeling gluttonous. It's great for backpackers on a budget like us because it's cheap and offered in most restaurants.

Indian Food


Stuffed Tomato

Take the largest tomato, stuff it with spices and paneer, a fresh cheese made from heated milk and lemon juice. Then cook it with curry and top it with more fresh cheese. Delicious.

Goan Fish Curry

Goa, in Southern India, is known for its fresh and tempting seafood. And the people from the south have perfected the fish curry. Eat this with lots of rice and you have a complete meal!

Lassi

This concoction is made from Indian yogurt or kurd and can be really thick and filling when bought from the right lassi wallah. I've mentioned before that Jaipur is known for its fabulous lassis.

Chai

Ginger or masala chai may just be the best gift of the British to the Indian people. This tea is made with tea leaves, milk, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves pepper and ginger, lots of it. I could drink more than 3 cups a day!

Sweets

Indian people are known for their sweet tooth. And when I say sweet, I mean diabetes-inducing candy and confectionery. Try gulab jamun which is made of flour balls and sugar syrup or the jalebi which looks like a deep fried pretzel.

How to Eat Like a Local

Indian Food
Photo Credit: Tanya Hotchkiss

When you're eating at an Indian restaurant, there are a few things you want to keep in mind:

Wash you hands first at the sink. They usually have soap and running water. You'll be expected to use your hands when eating. I found this a awkward at first. We're used to eating with our hands in the Philippines, but it's usually with dry food. In India, they pour soup or sambal sauce on your rice which makes eating with your hands a bit tricky- and sticky!

As expected, the sanitary habits in India will not meet your standards. It's normal for them to serve you chapati with their bare hands. I've also been given a 'clean' plate several times that's been wiped with a suspicious looking dishrag or table cloth. Yes, you can either get mental or just look the other way and not overanalyze things.

Don't be afraid to try food which may seem unusual. That's the beauty of traveling, getting to try new things. So enjoy Indian food and don't forget to burp and say "Bohot acha!" to your host after a great meal.

Are you always excited to try the food when visiting a foreign country? What's the best foodie experience you've ever had? Share you stories by leaving a comment below.

Still hooked on Indian food,
Sole Sister Lois

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14 sole trails

  1. looks like Thali will be my favotire too, next to Thai, Indian food is one of the riches and most complex in taste for me, i just can't get enough of curries and spices :)

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  2. when i first tasted indian food i enjoyed it... it was new to me... 'luv et! =D

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  3. I used to think Thai food was number one too. Until tried indian food. It's now a close second. You're right about the spices. Plus the colorful presentation!

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  4. Yeah, I love trying food in different countries. It's one of the reasons why I travel. Now we are also enjoying trying out Vietnamese food. Yum!

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  5. I'm salivating over here. I love Indian food...I think eating it with your hands is fierce! I like the magazine lay out of the hooked on indian delights photo!

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  6. i just love how indian food plays with your taste buds!

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  7. Did you try the bhang lassi in Pushkar? It certainly does elevate one's spiritual perceptions in that holy city.

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  8. Thanks for the compliments Grace. We try to make the layout as fun as our creativity will allow. Thanks for dropping by and we love following your adventures as well!

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  9. Totally agree Gabby! The spices and the flavors are just so enticing. I seriously miss Indian food A LOT.

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  10. Too bad I didn't t try that Jody. More reasons to go back to India ;-)

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  11. This post got me craving for Indian food really bad! But since the number of Indian resto's in Davao worthy of their curries is very limited, I had to attempt my own version of tikka masala.

    This fires our dream to see India more than we already do. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to the rest of your adventures that we have already added you on our list.

    Have a safe and fun adventures!

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  12. Hey Kim and MJ! Glad you liked it. I'm sure you will love Indian food as much as I do. The real thing is so different even from the 'authentic Indian cuisine' they have in other countries. Glad you're following our adventures and we will follow yours as well. Love the photography on your site!

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  13. Trying Indian food is one of the reasons I want to see India. I just love Indian food. I just hope it's not like when I had Chinese food in China. It just didn't taste all that good.

    I'm glad you told us about some of the things to expect when eating in India. Now I know what to expect when I'm there.

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