Top food experiences in India
Food is such an integral part of a land, it builds inroads into the country’s culture, its people and it gives such an intimate glimpse of the diaspora that makes the country what it is. In today’s blog, we explore the exemplary food experiences that our beautiful country offers. From Thalis to roadside chats, from tea estate stories to coffee houses where you can procure some suspect cigarettes. We got it all on our week’s blog, so say hello to the top food experiences of India.
Chaats in Delhi: The city is the king of street food, and even I a hardcore Bengali from Kolkata, can’t deny it. The variety of spicy tangy light eats that are on offer on the streets will surely make you swoon. The sheer variety of the offerings will leave you spoilt for choice. Chaats, golgappas, Samosa, Kachoris, Aloo Tikkis, Dahi Bhallas, Fruit chats, stop by in Old Delhi to get a taste of these things to go on a rollercoaster of flavours.
Rolls of Kolkata: When you are hungry in the evening you just head out for a Roll-in Kolkata. Before all the cool coffee shops came up and the bistros, the roll shop were the ultimate “adda” spot. Egg rolls were as basic as it could get and you could make it a paneer roll, a chicken roll or a double mutton roll. The roll is filled in with plenty of salads and some even throw in a shawarma-style fried potato wedges. Kati rolls are a work of art and you need to have it at a local roll corner for the quintessential Bengali street food experience.
Community dining at Langar: A Langar experience is a must if you are on a food adventure in the north. It's essentially a community meal that one enjoys in a Gurudwara, which is the holy place of worship for Sikhs. Everybody sits down on the floor and is served a meal cooked in the community kitchen. This is an experience that you can have at the Golden temple in Amritsar or you can try it at Delhi too.
Coffee trails in Coorg: The coffee lovers paradise for the country, this quaint hill station in the south is fast gaining appeal amidst coffee lovers and adventurers alike. Going on a coffee trail includes everything from coffee picking to berry harvesting and jeep rides across the plantation to see everything up-close. The Tata plantation is a great place to watch the process, and now a lot of private estates are offering coffee discovery tours too.
Talking about beverages, you can watch the tea making process up close and personal at Glenburn in Darjeeling in West Bengal. Or you can also go for a wine tour in Nasik and Grovers. This is strictly for those looking to understand their beverages better.
Gujarati Thali: Truth be told, I understood the beauty of it in a thali served as a community dining experience in a commune in the heart of coastal Gujarat, but you don’t have to travel so far to taste it. The Gujarati thali with its attention to detail, and its flavours and its vegetarian delights is a treat for all. There will be spicy, tangy, sweet, salty, and sour all on one plate of awesome! Try a Thali speciality restaurant in any city in Gujarat, and the ones in Mumbai do a sweet deal on them too. It’s a highly recommended experience for all! Yum!
Dabbawallas of Mumbai: it’ the most efficient food experience on this list. At 9 in the morning over 5000 dabbawallas descend on the city to pick up tiffin boxes to be delivered to offices around the city. The food is collected from the respective homes, yes its home food, its ferried to a train station closest, from where the next batch of dabbawalas takes over. It’s a relay system with a unique coding methodology that has been studied by the liked of FedEx and Harvard business school, the latter gave it a six sigma status too. You can sign up for tours that let you trail a Dabbawala while he goes about his business at work. Once the lunch is served, the same process is repeated back to pick it up. Richard Branson has hung out with them, so has Prince Charles, a beautiful movie called The lunchbox was made a few years back keeping the dabbas as the catalyst for a unique love story. The Dabbawalas are an important part of the city’s pop culture, as it is also responsible for delivering home-cooked meals to over 2,50,000 office goers. This is an unmissable food experience for anyone.
A Kashmiri dawat, Wazwan: The Kashmiri Wazwan is a traditional experience cooked especially for the marriage season it is a meat-based meal which is cooked by cooks called Waaz who are doing this for generations and usually served in a Trammi or tram. The preparation of which is considered an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri culture and identity. Almost all the dishes are meat-based using lamb or chicken. Wazwan is not a simple meal. It’s a ceremony. Guests are seated in a group of 4 on a dastarkhwan or sheet, usually white in colour and share the meal in a Traem. It begins with the washing of hands in a basin called the Tasht-è-naer or Tash Naer, which are taken around by attendants- either the waza or the close relatives join him in serving. When the lid of trammi is removed, there is an aroma of different dishes ranging from seekh kebabs to a variety of gravies in meat served with rice.
Cooking class and a homemade meal in Kerala: The best way to understand the cuisine of a place is to cook it. Be a part of the process, learn the nuances, cut those leaves, put in those spices and cook that curry the way they do it. A cooking class is an amazing insight into the way the people of the land treat the food and where else to do it than God’s own country, Kerala. There are special cooking classes in Fort Cochin, Varkhala, Kovalam and Alleypey too. Sign up for these sessions and go on a journey with your hosts and learn some new skills to take back home too.
Coffeehouse Kolkata: For an authentic taste of being a rebel try the Coffeehouse experience in Kolkata. A large hall, with a colonial hangover, is home to the Bengali intelligentsia reliving their communist days. Expect uniformed waiters serving you coffee and expect a lot of second-hand smoke and passionate conversations. The coffee house is an establishment in itself and every college goer in the city has seen its insides many many times overheated debates and of course endless cups of coffee. A favourite haunt of students from the Kolkata University, Presidency college and other institutions on College Street.Every famous writer, playwright, actor, freedom fighter and revolutionary has been a patron of this coffee house and you must pay it a visit for the experience that it offers.
Author: Sudeepta Sanyal (@Moonlitekingdom)
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