Who in the world has not tried Indian food? With Indian restaurants that have sprung up in every street corner, ranging from the big bad cities like London and New York to small quaint towns like Linz and Valparaiso, finding Indian food is hardly the issue. Ask any Indian food fan what he likes and the chances that you will hear about “Naan” and “Chicken Tikka” is extremely high. What they don’t know is that they have tried out one tiny portion of the Indian cuisine. The Indian restaurants around the world mostly serve North Indian food and in most cases, are run by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. Indeed, they serve a mean platter. I have personally eaten in the Gandhi Palace’s and Taj Mahal restaurant’s of the world. I have loved gorging rich Butter Naan and not very spicy Chicken Tikka Masala. The reason I write this post is to tell you guys about the rich variety of Indian food that is available in India, other than the internationally popular North Indian food.
Here are my top 5 restaurants from the East, West and South of India.
East Indian Food – Not just fish in Kolkata
With Satyajit Ray paintings on the wall and a handwritten whiteboard menu, Bhojohori Manna serve you authentic Bengali cuisine in an old world charm, transporting you to a Bengali grandmother’s kitchen in no time. Variety that includes a lot more than the infamous fish, portions perfect for a couple, the hospitality as welcoming as any Indian home, affordable an understatement to describe their pricing, Bhojohori Manna is a rare treat in today’s world. Combined with the Victoria Memorial and the Indian museum for the history buffs, Birla Mandir and Kalighat Temple for the religious, Gariahat Market and New Market for the shopoholics, Kolkata has something more to offer than simply great food.
Sumptuous meal at Bhojohori Manna
Luchi and Kosha Mangsho (Puris and mutton curry)
Bhetki Paturi (Steamed bhetki fish in a banana leaf)
Ilish Maach (Hilsa fish prepared in mustard sauce) with rice
Chingri Malai Curry (Prawn curry) with rice
Luchi with Alu Posto (Puris and fried potatoes with poppy seeds)
Begun Bhaja (Fried eggplant)
Dhokar Dalna (Chickpea cake curry) with rice
Seal with the mouth watering Mishti Doi
The pictures below are certain to make your mouth water 🙂
North West Indian Food – Royal Rajasthani Thali in Jaipur
The Indian version of a set meal, popularly referred to as a Thali, is lunch to most rushed working executives. The Rajasthani Thali however has been made especially for the ghee-loving individual who has two hours to lunch. Popular with the locals as well as tourists, LMB, short for Lakshmi Mishtan Bhandar, is one of the oldest restaurants in Johari Bazaar, Jaipur. With the platter that is laid out in front of you, you may just consider yourself Rajasthan Royalty for the hour. Walking distance from Hawa Mahal, the Royal Palace and markets in Jaipur, LMB is a stopover that is a must for a food lover.
Special Lunch Thali at Lakshmi Mishtan Bhandar (LMB)
Highlights are Papad Mangori Soup, Churma and Bati, Bela Rajasthani and Kadi Chhokanwali.
West Indian Food – Malvani Cuisine in Mumbai
It is impossible to think of one cuisine to associate Mumbai with. With options ranging from Cheese Pav Bhaji to Mexican Chimichanga, Bombay Sandwich to Spanish Paella, Mumbai really has it all. If there is one well kept secret, it’s the Malvani cuisine, which originates from the Konkan region of Maharashtra, tucked away in the form of little no-frill joints around Mumbai. Famous for the fiery seafood curries, crispy bombay duck and soothing Sol Kadhi (a pink coloured drink made from Kokam fruit and Coconut milk), a lunch at any of the Malvani joints is much sought after by the locals. The most popular ones are Saayba and Highway Gomantak in Bandra and Jai Hind Lunch Home in Lower Parel. Be prepared for a 20-minute wait outside any of these restaurants, after all, what’s in store is well worth the wait.
Meal for two at Saayba, one of the most popular Malvani joints
Chicken Sagoti Masala with Bhakri (Rice Roti)
Pomfret Masala / Teesra Masala with Rice
Surmai Fry / Bombil Fry / Prawns Fry on the side
Malpua for the sweet tooth
South Indian Food – Idlis so soft, they will melt in your mouth – Chennai
Subrabatham, filter coffee and soft Idlis – this is how a typical morning starts in a Chennai household. Catch any South Indian and they will describe that the best Idlis are those that are as soft as petals of a flower. Murugan Idli Shop is among the most popular joints to savour such Idlis in Chennai today. Established in Madurai in the 80’s and with over 5 branches in Chennai, Murugan Idli has satiated many a visitor. Start the day with Murugan Idli and you will surely find yourself with a burst of energy, enough to face what Chennai has in store. T. Nagar saree shopping or a drive to the shore temples in Mahabalipuram, the jewelry markets in Mylapore or a walk down Marina Beach, Chennai won’t disappoint you.
Hearty breakfast at Murugan Idli
Idlis served with 4 types of chutney and sambar
Top up with Vada, Ghee Masala Dosa, Uttappam or Venpongal
Seal with a hot cup of filter coffee
I was so busy eating I didn’t take pictures. So, picture credit below to Arun Shanbhag.
South Indian Food – Suprise Thali at Mango Tree, Hampi
Irrespective of whether you are temple hopping, bouldering, taking boat rides or just hanging out with Lakshmi, the temple elephant, Hampi has so much to offer, it tires you. Actually, it makes you darn hungry. Having just spent 2 days there, I sincerely remember the South Indian Thali at Mango Tree Restaurant. With the view of the Tunghabadra river and a lovely floor seating, this place immediately makes you relax. Definitely order the Nutella Banana pancakes as dessert.
The lunch you don’t want to miss in Hampi
South Indian Thali (or)
Chapati’s with Curry (Multiple options available)
Nutella Banana Pancake for dessert
Lemon Nana juice (a mint lemon special here)