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Travel Guide > Asia > India

India Restaurants & Eating

  
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Indian cuisine is superb and takes its place among the great cuisines of the world. There is a good chance that you'd have tasted "Indian food" in your country, especially if you are a traveller from the West, but what India has exported abroad is just one part of its extraordinary range of culinary diversity.

Indian food has well-deserved reputation for being hot, owing to the Indian penchant for potent green chilis that will bring tears to the eyes of the uninitiated, and found in unexpected places like sweet cornflakes (a snack, not breakfast) or even candies. The degree of spiciness varies widely throughout the country: Andhra food is famously fiery, while Bengal cuisine is generally not.

To enjoy the local food, start slowly. Don't try everything at once. After a few weeks, you can get accustomed to spicy food. If you would like to order your dish not spicy, simply say so. Most visitors are tempted to try at least some of the spicy concoctions, and most discover that the sting is worth the trouble.

Cuisine

Cuisine in India varies greatly from region to region. The "Indian food" served by restaurants around the world is North Indian, also known as Mughlai (the courts of the Mughal emperors) or Punjabi (the people who popularized it). Mughlai cuisine makes heavy use of meat and spices. It has been heavily influenced by Central Asian cooking, hence you will find pulao (rice cooked in broth), kebab (grilled meat), kofta (balls of mincemeat) etc. Tandoori chicken, prepared in a clay oven called a tandoor, is probably the best-known North Indian dish, but for an authentic Punjabi dining experience, try sarson da saag, a yummy gravy dish made with mustard greens, with makke di roti, a roti made from maize.

North India

North India is wheat growing land, so you have Indian breads (known as roti), including chapatti (unleavened bread), paratha (stuffed chapatti), naan (cooked in a clay tandoori oven), puri (deep-fried and puffed up), and many more. A typical meal consists of one or more gravy dishes along with rotis, to be eaten by breaking off a piece of roti, dipping it in the gravy and eating them together. Most of the Hindi heartland of India survives on roti, rice, and lentils (dal), which are prepared in several different ways and made spicy to taste. Served on the side, you will usually find spiced yogurt (raita) and either fresh chutney or a tiny piece of exceedingly pungent pickle (achar), a very acquired taste for most visitors — try mixing it with curry, not eating it plain.

A variety of cuisines can be found throughout north India, like the savory Rajasthani dishes, more akin to the Gujarati cuisine, the meat heavy Kashmiri (Wazwan) dishes from the valley of Kashmir or the mild yet gratiating Himalayan (pahari) cuisine found in the higher reaches. North India also has of a variety of snacks like samosa (vegetables encased in thin pastry of a triangular shape) and kachori (either vegetable or pulses encased in thin pastry). There is also a vast constellation of sweet desserts like jalebi (deep-fried pretzel with sugar syrup- shaped like a spiral), rasmalai (balls of curds soaked in condensed milk), halwa, etc. Dry fruits like almonds, cashews and pistachio are used a lot, often in the desserts, but sometimes also in the main meal.

South India

In South India, the food is mostly rice-based. They also make greater use of pulses. The typical meal is sambhar (a watery curry) with rice, or avial (mixed vegetables) with rice, traditionally served on a banana leaf as a plate. There are regional variations too — the coastal regions make greater use of coconut and fish. In the coast, particularly in the province of Kerala, it is common to use grated coconut in everything and use coconut oil for cooking, while someone from the interior could be surprised to learn that coconut oil, can in fact, be used for cooking.

The South also has some great breakfast dishes like idli (a steamed cake of lentils and rice), dosa, a thin, crispy pancake often stuffed with spiced potatoes to make masala dosa, vada, a savoury Indian donut, and uttapam, fried idli with onions and other vegetables mixed in. All of these can be eaten with dahi, plain yogurt, and chutney, a condiment that can be made from practically anything. Try the ever popular Masala Dosa (rice crepe)in one of the old restaurants of Bangalore like CTR and Janatha in Malleswaram or Vidyarthi Bhavan in Basavangudi. South Indian cuisine is predominantly vegetarian, though Chettinad and Andhra cuisines use meat heavily and are a lot more spicier. Coffee tends to replace tea in the south.

One of the top rated restaurants in the province of Kerala is Harbour Restaurant. Harbour Restaurant is on Beach Road in Alleppey, Kerala and looks out over the Arabian Sea. Tourists have ranked it at decently priced.

West India

To the West, you will find some great cuisine groups. Gujarati cuisine is mostly vegetarian, sweet, and makes heavy use of milk products. Gujaratis make some of the best snack items such as the Dhokla and the Muthia. Rajasthani cuisine is similar to Gujarati, but somewhat spicier. Maharashtra and Goa are famous for their seafood. A notable feature of Goan cooking is that pork is used, a rare sight in the rest of India. Vindaloo originated in Goa, and is in fact traditionally cooked with pork, and in spite of its apparent popularity in Indian restaurants abroad, it is not common in India itself.

East India

To the East, Bengali food, like South Indian, makes heavy use of rice and fish, there are many variety of fish and cooking style may be many different ways for a single type of fish in bengali hotel and restaurant. though Bengalis prefer freshwater fish. The iconic Bengali dish is Maccher jhal, a watery fish curry spiced with mustard, which literally means "fish in sauce". Bengal is also famous for its sweets, the remarkable sweet in Bengal is "ROSSO-GOLLA" it is made from cow's milk and have great test if eat within few hours of made (slightly hot) it's test will decrease if eat after long time(20-24 hour) from made. and sondesh is excellent.The winter special item is named " Nolen Gurer Rosso-golla & Sondesh " is available in everywhere in Bengal and somewhere in few other adjacent state.

Others

A lot of food has also filtered in from other countries. Indian Chinese (or Chindian) is far and away the most common adaptation: most Chinese would barely recognize the stuff, but dishes like veg manchurian (deep-fried vegetable balls in a chilli-soy-ginger sauce) and chilli chicken are very much a part of the Indian cultural landscape and worth a try. The British left fish and chips and some fusion dishes like mulligatawny soup, while Tibetan food, especially momo dumplings, are not uncommon in north India. Pizza has entered India in a big way, but chains like Pizza hut and Domino's have been forced to Indianize the pizza and introduce adaptations like paneer-tikka pizza. Remarkably, there is an Indian chain called Smokin Joe's, based out of Mumbai, which has gone and mixed Thai curry with Pizzas.

It is, of course, impossible to do full justice to the range and diversity of Indian food in this brief section. Not only does every region of India have a distinctive cuisine, but you will also find that even within a region, castes and ethnic communities have different styles of cooking and often have their signature recipes which you will probably not find in restaurants. The adventurous traveller is advised to wangle invitations to homes, try various bylanes of the city and look for food in unlikely places like temples in search of culinary nirvana.

Fruits

While there are a wide variety of fruits native to India such as the chikoo and the jackfruit, nothing is closer to an Indians' heart than a juicy ripe mango. Hundreds of varieties are found across most of its regions — in fact, India is the largest producer, growing more than half the world's output. Mangoes are in season at the hottest part of the year, usually between May and July, and range from small (as big as a fist) to some as big as a small cantaloupe. It can be consumed in its ripe, unripe as well a baby form (the last 2 predominently in pickles). Other fruits widely available (depending on the season) are bananas, oranges, guavas, lychees, apples, pineapple, pomegranate, apricot, melons, coconut, grapes, plums, peaches and berries.

Vegetarian

Visiting vegetarians will discover a culinary treasure that is found nowhere else in the world. Owing to a large number of strictly vegetarian Hindus and Jains, Indian cuisine has evolved an astonishingly rich menu that uses no meat or eggs. At least half the menus of most restaurants are devoted to vegetarian dishes, and by law all packaged food products in India are tagged with a green dot (vegetarian) or red dot (non-veg). Vegans, however, will face a tougher time: milk products like cheese (paneer), yogurt (dahi) and clarified butter (ghee) are used extensively, and honey is also commonly used as a sweetener. Milk in India is generally not pasteurized, and must be boiled before consumption.

Even non-vegetarians will soon note that due to the Hindu taboo, beef is generally not served (except in the south and the north-east), and pork is also uncommon due to the Muslim population. Chicken and mutton are thus by far the most common meats used, although beeflike "buff" (waterbuffalo) is occasionally served in backpacker establishments.

Etiquette

In India eating with your hand (instead of utensils like forks and spoons) is very common. There's one basic rule of etiquette to observe, particularly in non-urban India: Use only your right hand. Don't stick either hand into communal serving dishes: instead, use the left hand to serve yourself with utensils and then dig in. Needless to say, it's wise to wash your hands well before and after eating.

For breads for all types, the basic technique is to hold down the item with your forefinger and use your middle-finger and thumb to tear off pieces. The pieces can then be dipped in sauce or used to pick up bits before you stuff them in your mouth. Rice is more challenging, but the basic idea is to use four fingers to mix the rice in curry and pack a little ball, before you pop it in your mouth by pushing it with your thumb.

Most of the restaurants do provide cutlery and its pretty safe to use them instead of your hand.

Eating by hand is frowned on in some "classier" places. If you are provided with cutlery and nobody else around you seems to be doing it, then take the hint.

Restaurants

Indian restaurants run the gamut from roadside shacks (dhabas) to classy five-star places where the experience is comparable to places anywhere in the world. Away from the big cities and tourist haunts, mid-level restaurants are scarce, and food choices will be limited to the local cuisine, Punjabi/Mughlai, "Chinese" and occasionally South Indian.

The credit for popularizing Punjabi cuisine all over the country goes to the dhabas that line India's highways. Their patrons are usually the truckers, who happen to be overwhelmingly Punjabi. The authentic dhaba serves up simple yet tasty seasonal dishes like roti and dhal with onions, and diners sit on cots instead of chairs. Hygiene can be an issue in many dhabas, so if one's not up to your standards try another. In rural areas, dhabas are usually the only option.

In Southern India, "Hotel" means a local restaurant serving south Indian food, usually a thali -- a full plate of food that usually includes a kind of bread and an assortment of meat or vegetarian dishes -- and prepared meals.

Although you may be handed an extensive menu, most dishes are served only during specific hours, if at all.

Tipping is unusual outside of fancier restaurants where 10% is appropriate.

Restaurants in India

South Indian Vidyarthi Bhavan, Bengaluru
In the not too distant past, you could go to Gandhi Bazar main road, revel in the sights and smells of a colorful, aromatic flower bazaar, before stepping just behind it to a famous culinary landmark of Bengaluru---Vidyart... more
Low Budget, in Bangalore Urban District
Indian (Vegetarian) Mysore Mylari Hotel
 Mysore Mylari is a forty-year old restaurant that is almost an institution. This small restaurant is located in a congested area. It still retains the forty year old furniture and looks like a set from a period film,... more
Low Budget, Rs.100 for a meal for two, in Mysore
 
Indian (Vegetarian) GTR - Gayathri Tiffin Room
Gayathri Tiffin Room is another sixty-year old favourite. It is located at Chamundipuram. GTR, as it is popularly known, looks very ordinary but has been delivering consistently over six decades. It is again, a part of Mys... more
Low Budget, $3 to $ 4 for a meal for two, in Mysore
Indian (Vegetarian) Iyer's Mess
Iyer’s Mess at RTO circle is a humble eatery that is high on taste and low on appearance! Authentic to the last letter, Iyer"s Mess serves a delectable vegetarian lunch on plantain leaves. It is located in a house and serves home food. There is no pos... more
Low Budget, Under $ 5 for a meal for two, in Mysore
 
Indian (Vegetarian) Nalpak
Nalpak falls in the genre of restaurants serving Indian vegetarian food. It is, however, more modern and less cluttered. Nalpak serves both North Indian and South Indian dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The taste is... more
Mid Range, $ 4 to $ 8 for a meal for two, in Mysore
Indian (Vegetarian) Hotel Ramani's
Ramani's Restaurant is a vegetarian eatery that serves South Indian, North Indi an and Chinese cuisines. It has two outlets both of which have AC dining halls. The restaurant is clean, service is fast and the rates are rea... more
Mid Range, A meal for one person will cost between $ 2-$ 15, in Mysore
 
Indian Hotel RRR
Hotel RRR is one of the most popular non-vegetarian eateries in Mysore. It serves traditional non -vegetarian food on banana leaves. Eating off a banana leaf is an experience in itself! Hotel  RRR is said to serve an ... more
Mid Range, A meal for one will cost between $ 4-$15, in Mysore
Cafe, Light Food, Soups, Tea Cafe Coffee Day @ Kantharaj Urs Road
Cafe Coffee Day serves good coffee and hot burgers and sandwiches. There are twelve Cafe Coffee Day outlets in Mysore. The more obvious ones are at Devaraj Urs Road, Kalidasa Road, Kantharaj Urs Road, Vasantha Ma... more
Top End, A meal or snack for two would cost between $ 2-$10, in Mysore
 
Cafe, Light Food, Soups, Tea Cafe Coffee Day @ Kalidasa Road
Cafe Coffee Day serves good coffee and hot burgers and sandwiches. There are twelve Cafe Coffee Day outlets in Mysore. The more obvious ones are at Devaraj Urs Road, Kalidasa Road, Kantharaj Urs Road, Vasantha Mahal Road and Hootegalli. Cafe Cofee Day ... more
Top End, A meal for two will cost between $ 2 - $10, in Mysore
Cafe, Light Food, Soups, Tea Cafe Coffee Day @ Devaraja Urs Road
Cafe Coffee Day serves good coffee and hot burgers and sandwiches. There are twelve Cafe Coffee Day outlets in Mysore. The more obvious ones are at Devaraj Urs Road, Kalidasa Road, Kantharaj Urs Road, Vasantha Mahal Road and Hootegalli. Cafe Cofee Day ... more
Top End, A meal for two will cost between $ 2-$ 10, in Mysore
 
These are just 10 of 57 Restaurants in India. Show more.




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