India's Diverse Cuisine

India's Diverse Cuisine

March 04, 2019

India is known as country that assaults the senses - in a good way! The smells, colours, sounds and energy of India’s cities never fails to captivate a visitor. And neither does Indian cuisine. I remember the first meal I ever had in India. My partner and I wandered a market in Kolkata, starving. We spotted men eating naan and some sort of bean, off a banana leaf. We like to do as the locals do, and so we approached, and were ushered into a small room where we were seated and handed our own banana leaves. The meal was simple: naan and dal. We used our hands to scoop up the dal with the naan. When we were finished, we drank chai out of a small clay cup, as is custom in Kolkata. It was one of the best meals of my life.

India’s food is as diverse as India itself. Cooking style varies from region to region, but of course there are staples: rice, wheat and curries. And no matter where you are in India: chai tea.

(above) Yellow Lentil Dahl


Northern India

Origin’s Road to Rainbows trip explores the north, which is the perfect region to delve into Indian cuisine.

Here you will find lots of dairy! Paneer, a delicious Indian mild cheese, and ghee (clarified butter) are often added to dishes. Korma is a staple dish, a creamy curry made of coconut milk, cumin, coriander and nuts. It is often served with chicken or lamb, or paneer for vegetarians. Clay ovens, known as tandoors, are popular in the North for cooking chicken and naan bread.


Western India

The cuisine of western India is shaped by its geographic location and history. Like most of India, rice is the staple, but unlike in the North there is an abundance of sea food. In Goa specifically, the prawns and fish will blow your mind. For vegetarians, sabzi (cooked, spiced vegetables), dal and rotis will keep your taste buds satisfied.


Eastern India

The influence of Buddhism is felt in Eastern India in their celebration of vegetarian dishes. Popular ingredients include mustard seeds and “paanch phoran” which is a mix of five spices. Here you will find momos - steamed meat or veggie filled wontons as well as many dairy dishes. Make sure to try lassi (yogurt with fruit)! But Eastern India’s claim to fame is their sweets. The region is famous for its sandesh (paneer and sugar), rasgolla (dumplings in syrup) and rice pudding (kheer). 

(above) Creamy Lassi with fruit in a clay pot


Southern India

South Indian food is distinct, known for its use of seeds, spices, tomatoes, tamarind and plantain. Dosa is south India’s staple: the dish includes a large crepe-like pancake made from fermented batter. Traditional dosas are called “Masala Dosa” and they are filled with a mix of potato, onion, and spices. Expect all dosas to be slightly different, and do as the locals do, eat them with your hands!


(above) Samosa


This article was written by Erin Hayes - the host of the awesome Alpaca My Bags Podcast and author of the Pina Travels Blog!

Follow her @pinatravels

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Souvenir: Wholesome stories that stay with you.

What I Learned Kayaking Solo in the Florida Keys
What I Learned Kayaking Solo in the Florida Keys

February 26, 2021

I took a fifteen hour road trip alone through the state of Florida. Here’s what happened...


Read More

How Moving to Seville Changed my Life
How Moving to Seville Changed my Life

February 19, 2021

I’ll be eternally grateful to Seville for helping me get a better understanding of myself and what I wanted from life. It gave me the confidence I needed to put a full stop to my old life full of uncertainties and begin a new adventurous one. 

Read More

How the pandemic inspired this backpacker to commit to vanlife
How the pandemic inspired this backpacker to commit to vanlife

February 12, 2021

If there is one thing that travel has taught me, it’s to remain adaptable in the face of adversity. There’s no such thing as game over, you just need to get creative in making your dreams a reality.

Read More

Save $100 off your first trip.

Your weekly dose of good travel.

Tips for exploring in a way that makes you (and the planet) feel nice + and incredible human stories. You will love it, we promise.