India is an intriguing yet overwhelming place. It is a melting pot of several religions, several hundred languages, and several million people. Due to its staggering size, it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a trip there. Luckily a helping hand isn’t far away. We’ve stripped India back to basics, compiling a list of India’s highlights and more importantly, how, where and when to see them. Exploring the nooks and crannies of its cities, discovering its ancient charm, experiencing its age old rituals, and falling under the spell of India’s irrepressible charm makes for an adventure you will never forget.
Only after stepping foot in India will you realise that Indian cuisine, as you know it, just doesn’t exist. To paint both the delicate and punchy flavours of India with the same broad brushstroke overlooks the smorgasbord of dishes on offer from north to south. Tried and tested recipes balance coriander, cumin and cardamom with almost scientific precision, guaranteeing a culinary experience you will never forget.
Eating your way around India is one of the best ways to get under its skin. Let your taste buds do the talking as you peel back the layers of India’s rich history and fascinating traditions by tucking into a freshly prepared plate of local cuisine. Arguably, the best examples of Indian cooking are found in the home, and for a truly authentic experience, staying in a rural, family run property is the best way to sample the flavours of the region. Alternatively, employ the expertise of a local guide to show you the best of India’s street food. Sample chai or a lassi from one of the oldest vendors in the country or savour a delicious curry served up on a banana leaf. For a really immersive experience, learn how to cook some of India’s most treasured dishes, passed down from generation to generation during a cookery class. Getting stuck in with the daily rituals of cooking and learning from the people who know the intricacies of Indian cooking is sure to be a highlight of your trip.
Indian food has a reputation as one of the world's most popular cuisines. In the north, rich and only moderately spicy curries are served with a hunk of naan or roti. Central Asian influences pervade north Indian cooking, and the flavoursome tandooris and creamy gravies are prepared using almonds, sultanas and saffron. Expect paneer, ghee and a dollop of yoghurt as staple accompaniments to a typical dish. North Indian desserts are also well renowned and sure to satisfy any sweet tooth; they are extraordinarily indulgent, decadently presented and lip-smackingly good.
Further south, rice based dishes are order of the day. Steamed, spiced and soaked in coconut milk, the tasty curries of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are deliciously fresh and primarily vegetable or seafood based. Dishes are infused with chillies, marinated in tamarind and served up in one of the south's famed dosas, or on a square of banana leaf.
From the Portuguese inspired flavours of Goa and the delicious biryanis of Hyderabad, to the fresh seafood of Kerala and the array of sweet treats of Rajasthan, no two regions are the same. Like India itself, the food is mind bogglingly diverse. So even if you eat Indian cuisine every day of your holiday, you would be hard pressed to eat the same dish twice.
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