Indian cuisine is a beautiful blend of cultures and regional identities.
There is much to discover when it comes to Indian cuisine, with distinctive regional specialties, a unique combination of cultural and religious elements, and the hallmark aromatic spices.
Some highlights from the country’s vast menu are listed below:
- Chicken 65
A deep-fried chicken dish that derives its flavour from red chillies, which also gives it its colour. Originating from Hotel Buhari in Chennai, Chicken 65 is prepared using boneless or bone-in chicken and is usually served with onion and lemon garnish.
Generally served as an entrée, or quick snack, it also has vegetarian variants like Paneer 65 (cottage cheese) and Gobi 65 (cauliflower).
- Mysore Pak
An Indian sweet originating from the city of Mysore in Karnataka state. Ingredients include generous amounts of ghee, sugar, gram flour, and often cardamom. The texture is similar to a buttery and dense cookie or a milky fudge depending on the variety.
- Thalassery Biryani
Originates from a place called Thalassery in Kerala. This biryani comes from a cuisine which is a melting pot of Indian, European and Persian influence. It does not use normal basmati rice, but instead a special type of rice that gives it a distinct flavour.
- Chicken Chettinad
This delicacy from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu is made by cooking chicken marinated with a special paste. It usually consists of a mixture of coriander seeds, red chillies, coconut, poppy seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black pepper, giving the dish its unique flavour.
- Pongal or huggi
A popular South Indian rice dish. In Tamil ‘pongal’ means ‘to boil’ or ‘bubble up’, while in Telugu and Kannada, pongali is a dish of rice mixed with boiled milk and sugar. The two varieties of pongal are chakarai pongal, which is sweet, and venn pongal made from clarified butter.
The word pongal generally refers to spicy venn pongal and is a common breakfast food. Chakarai pongal is made during the Pongal festival and is generally prepared in temples as a prasadam (an offering made to a deity).
- Andhra Chilli Chicken
A fiery combination of green chili, garlic and ginger stewed to perfection.
Light green in colour with hints of yellow, this spicy dish is loved and enjoyed in the state of Andhra Pradesh that is infamous for its spicy chilies.
The cooking begins with stewing chopped chilies with a lot of garlic and a little ginger. The chilies are cooked until they are soft and start breaking down; the gravy is completed by adding green chili sauce and soy sauce. Chicken is then added and poached to tender perfection.
- Baingan Bharta (mashed eggplant curry)
One for eggplant lovers. This Punjabi dish is made using mashed, charcoal-grilled eggplants, cooked with chopped tomatoes and caramelised onions and garnished with coriander leaves. It is usually enjoyed with flatbreads or roti, but can be served alongside rice as well.
- Kadai Paneer
A rich, creamy, spicy cottage cheese dish that is prepared in a base of tomatoes. Chopped bell peppers (capsicums) are a common addition and it can be served with rice or roti.
- Kadhi Pakoras/Pakodas
A dish that consists of pakoras (deep-fried fritters) soaked in a creamy, lightly orange gravy with yoghurt. The curry gets its thickness from gram flour and the soaked fritters causes them to feel like dumplings in the creamy gravy. It is best served with rice.
- Aloo Parathas (Indian Potato Stuffed Flatbreads)
A popular North Indian breakfast delight. The golden-brown, flaky, whole-wheat flour exterior with a spiced, mixed mashed potatoes interior is a firm favourite across the country. It is usually served with raita (yogurt condiment) and pickles.
- Amritsari Fish (Indian-style battered fish)
The dish comes from the Amritsar region of Punjab and its highlight lies in the spices mixed with the gram flour batter, which preserves the juices of the fish filet inside the casing.