Today we see more and more foreign food chains opening up in every corner of India and what we have forgotten is that India, being a diverse country, has so many cultures across different states and each state expresses its tradition through its cuisine. So we have come forward with the traditional dishes of each and every state of India. Enjoy!
1. Kashmir – Tabak Maaz
Kashmir has been divided since the British left India in 1947. Lamb is heavily consumed on both sides of the Line of Control, and forms a substantial part of Kashmiri cuisine. This dish is typical of the region and is commonly enjoyed at wedding banquets and major celebrations. Featuring typically Persian spices, the ribs are marinated overnight to allow the meat to soften and are then cooked until tender. A last-minute dip in the frying pan guarantees all the flavours are sealed in.
2. Punjab – Makki ki Roti, Sarson ka Saag
Sarson da saag (Sarson ka saag, in Hindi, Urdu) is a popular vegetable dish in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan made from mustard leaves (sarson) and spices. It is regarded as the traditional way of making saag, and is traditionally served with makki di roti, which literally means (unraised) corn bread. It can be topped with either butter (unprocessed white or processed yellow butter) or more traditionally with ghee.
3. Haryana – Kadhi Pakoda (Snack)
Kadhi, a blend of yogurt and besan (gram flour) with besan pakoras, is served with plain white rice. This dish is popular throughout India.
4. Rajasthan – Ker- Sangri
Dried berries and beans cooked with yogurt and Indian spices – specialty from Rajasthan. Lots of spices, oil and yogurt is used in Rajasthani cuisine. Use of little extra oil helps to keep the food fresh for a long time as Rajasthan is a hot and humid area. Thisker sangri ki subzi is also made with generous amount of oil and spices and is very good to carry for traveling as it stays fresh for 2-3 days without refrigeration.
5. Himachal Pradesh – Sidu
Famous sidu is a kind of bread made from wheat flour. It is kneaded with yeast and the dough is allowed to rise for 4-5 hours. Sidu dough is yeast-based, it has to be prepared a couple of hours before you need it. It is normally eaten with ghee (clarified butter), dal (lentil broth) or with hari chutney. It might look boring in the picture, but it’s really going to charge up your taste buds.
6. Uttarakhand – Kaapa
Uttaranchal… Home of so many holy places. Coming to food, other than the regular ‘North Indian food’ (dal-chawal-roti-sabzi), the state has some really different recipes which I wanted to try. There were many more recipes I wish I could have tried, but finally zeroed down on phaanu (with toor dal), kaapa and thechwani.
Kappa is a Kumani preparation of palak (spinach) which is in a lovely green color with a great Kumauni taste. Kaapa is a very nutritious dish as its main ingredient “boiled and grinded spinach” retains all its nutrients. Palak (spinach) is a rich source of iron.
7. Uttar Pradesh – Shami Kebab
Shami kebabs were apparently invented by a highly skilled chef for a toothless Nawab of Lucknow. The Nawab was so fat from overindulgence that he couldn’t get on a horse, and his teeth were all gone, presumably for the same reason. So a kebab was made so fine that it required no teeth to eat it. When I hear stories like that I’m inclined to think, ‘If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.’ But then again, it’s a nice story, and so are the kebabs – silky smooth and stuffed with just a little finely chopped onion, mint and green chilli.
8. Madhya Pradesh – Bhutte (corn) Kheer
Known for high nutritional value, purity and longer shelf life, the offered lapsi is widely demanded to make different kinds of dishes. Processed as per the set food standards, lapsi is a rich source of vitamins and proteins.
9. Chhattisgarh – Red Ant Chutney
The favorite chutney of the tribe in Chhattisgarh is called chaprah which is made from red ants along with their eggs. The chutney has a pungent and spicy taste that gives you an out-of-the-world experience. These red ants are also used as a garnish for the dishes to make it spicier and hot.
10. Gujarat – Rice panki
Panki is made by cooking a batter between banana leaves. While pankis made with rice flour batter are the most common, other varieties are prevalent, and you’re welcome to try your own! It is worth noting that the presentation of the panki with the banana leaf adds a great deal of aroma as well as visual appeal as it is the conventional way of cooking it right.
11. Maharashtra – Thalipeeth
It is a special Maharashtrian dish. Also known as the Indian version of ‘multi grain pancakes’. The dough is prepared from a special flour made from roasted chana daal, urad daal, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, wheat, and rice.
It is usually served with white water buffalo milk butter and is very popular amongst Maharashtrians. Otherwise it is served with thick ghee or ‘toop‘ (Marathi) or sometimes even with thick curd.
12. Goa – Bibinca
The Goan ethos is one of living the good life. Food plays a big part. Goan cuisine is rich with the flavour of produce found in abundance locally, like kokum (sour fruit), coconut and spices. Any celebratory Goan meal or for that matter, a reference to Goan cuisine is incomplete without lingering awhile over Goa’s best known dessert, Bebinca.
Bebinca is essentially a layered dessert that tastes of the tropics. There’s a hint of coconut and a suggestion of ground nutmeg in the wholesome sweet layers, not to forget some caramelization and finally, rich clarified butter that harnesses all other flavors. The texture is firm enough to retain the layers and soft enough to melt in the mouth.
13. Karnataka – Chiroti
Everything in the Kannada menu has been mordernized, you know ‘gobi manchuri‘ taking the place of ‘pakoda‘, ‘fried rice’ instead of ‘bisibelebath‘. But chiroti has its place. Nothing says indulgence like chiroti. It is the South Indian Emperor Pastry.
Chiroti in itself is just a pastry, it is not sweet but extremely rich. So once the chiroti is placed on a plate, powdered sugar is generously sprinkled followed by warm badam milk. Even as I write these line, my mouth starts to water.
14. Kerela – Aviyal
Aviyal (avial) is a delicious preparation made with mixed vegetables, curd, coconut and seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. It occupies an important place in Kerala cuisine and is a must for Onam Sadya, the Keralite vegetarian feast.
15. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – Kodi Kura
Kodi kura (Chicken curry) is one of the most popular dishes in Andhra. Garelu (A snack made with urad dal) and kodi kura is considered to be a great combination in Andhra. This is a curry which is prepared with cubes of chicken cooked with onions and home-mademasala
The origin of the kodi kura is from a small village in Andhra Pradesh called Guntur, which is known for very spicy food. The most important spices used in Andhra region are ginger, garlic, cumin, fenugreek, cinanmom, cloves, cardamom, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, star anise seed and bay leaves.
16. Tamil Nadu – Kadungu Yerra
Kadugu means mustard in Tamil and yerra is shrimp/prawn. So, this dish has originated from Puducherry and has the blend of Tamil and French flavor in it. Shrimp is cooked with potatoes, tomatoes and coconut milk with mustard and fenugreek paste. It had a thick rich texture like the french sauces.
17. Bihar – Khubi ka Lai
Bihar has a dessert associated with each of its city and ‘Khubi ka Lai’ is a specialty of the city of Barh made from khobi seeds, sugar and mawa. Offered in shape of a ball or in a cake shape, khubi ka lai is lightly sweet by taste and similar to the laddo but does not contain solidified milk.
18. Jharkhand – Marua (Raagi Flour) Roti
Raagi is well known as marua in Jharkhand region. The flour is of black color and mainly eaten by labouring farmers in the villages due to its higher nutritional contents and slow digestive qualities. It has high levels of dietary fibres and is considered perfect for cleansing the digestive system. This is mandatory to prepare marua rotis on “Jeetiya” day in Mithila region and almost all the parts in Jharkhand.
19. Sikkim – Phagshapa
Phanghapa is a Nepali pork dish from Sikkim. Compared to other curries, it is not very spicy as the only spice used is chillies. This dish was perfect for those days, when we don’t want to have spicy hot curries especially during hot summers. It is lightly flavored, the radish and the pork made a wonderful combination and goes really well with just plain rice.
20. Arunanchal Pradesh – Apong
The Mishing tribe belonging to the Mongoloid race, residing in Assam of Northeast India, has certain unique customs. Some of these are very intresting and perhaps very little known to the people of the rest of the parts of the country and abroad. One such custom is drinking of rice beer (country liquor) which is popularly known among the Mishing tribe as ‘apong‘. During Ali-Aye Ligang, apong, along with chickens and pigs, is offered to the spirits to placate them.
21. Assam – Masor Tenga
Masor tenga (tangy fish curry) is a light and tangy dish, and is one of Assam’s signature preparations. The key ingredient in a tenga is the use of a souring agent which lends the dish a tart tangy taste. There are wide variety of souring agents that can be used to prepare this dish, ranging from the commonly available lemon, tomatoes, sour spinach to more exotic elephant apple, roselle leaves and garcinia.
22. Nagaland – Momos
The state does not produce enough food, and depends on trade of food from others states of India. But it has given us the very delicious momos, which is something worth craving for.
23. Manipur – Yongchak Iromba
U-Morok – the hottest chilly in the world grow and is consumed in abundance in Manipur. Iromba is a dish made of boiled vegetables mashed together in a sauce of chilli paste and ngari (fermented fish). It is then served with a combination of herbs as garnish – onion, spring onion, chameleon leaves, coriander, vietnamese coriander, etc. The best garnish for the yongchak irombais with a herb locally known as lomba.
Tungtap is dry fish paste or chutney and jadoh is a rice and meat delicacy. Fish is charred and mixed with onion, green chili and red chilies to make this fish chutney. Jadoh is similar to pulao where rice and meat is cooked together. Garam masala spices are not used and only spice used is black pepper. The speciality of this dish is that it does not taste that good individually, but the combination together is what really changes your mind set and your taste buds start loving it.
25. Tripura – Berma
Traditional Tripuri cuisine is known as Mui Borok. Tripuri food has a key ingredient called berma, which is dried and fermented fish. The food is considered to be healthy as it is prepared without oil. Flavor wise, berma is more on the sour side. Tripuri food such asbangui rice and fish stews, bamboo shoots, fermented fish, local herbs, and meat roasts are extremely popular within and outside the state.
26. Mizoram – Zu Tea
27. West Bengal – Bhapa Ilish
The signature Bengali Ilish dish which has to be on all important menus when Ilish is in season. Hilsa steeped in a pungent mustard sauce steamed to perfection with a liberal dousing of mustard oil is a sensuous experience.
28. Odisha – Chena Poda (Cheese Cake from Odisha)
Chhena poda is a cheese dessert from the state of Odisha in eastern India. Chhena poda literally means burnt cheese in Oriya.It is made of well-kneaded homemade cottage cheese or chhena, sugar, cashew nuts and raisins, and is baked for several hours until it browns. Chhena poda is the only well-known Indian dessert whose flavor is predominantly derived from the caramelization of sugar. Not only the taste but also the history behind this dish is fascinating.
29. India’s Capital – Delhi (UT) – Makhani Chicken
Not many know that the state which is very famous for its paranthas and chaat items is the originator of Makhani Chicken (Butter Chicken) and Tandoori Chicken by Moti Mahal in Delhi.
So, next time you are on a trip to any of the states, you know which dish to look out for instead of the KFCs, Dominos and Americal burger chains.