India

10 must-try Indian dishes

Bhelpuri, butter chicken, biryani and more. Always best served in India. By KATY WONG

It’s easy to get lost in the spice markets and alleyways of India’s cities, but you needn’t be lost when deciding what to eat. Follow us as we go beyond the samosa, into a world of spicy, hearty goodness.

Bhelpuri

Bhelpuri

Made with puffed rice, tomatoes, peanuts, green chilies and a tangy tamarind sauce, this savoury dish is a classic street eat sold everywhere in Mumbai. It can be eaten directly or served with flatbreads and while it has a hint of spiciness, the ingredients bring a rich and balanced texture to this mouth-watering snack.

Butter chicken

Butter-chicken

Originally from Delhi, this dish is a favourite in the region. The centrepiece is a gravy made of tomatoes, butter and cream originally created by three founders of the Moti Mahal restaurant in Old Delhi in the 1950s. The chicken is marinated overnight with yogurt, ginger, garlic paste and red chilli powder.

The name comes from the huge chunk of butter that goes into the gravy alongside the fresh tomatoes and spices, creating a highly moreish tangy sauce that soaks into the chicken. Bite, then wait for the mini mouth explosion.

Kosha mangsho (mutton curry)

This slow-cooked Bengali-style dish features mutton cooked with spices in an onion, ginger and garlic gravy and is often served on festivals and special occasions, especially in Kolkata. It’s cooked in mustard oil, widely used in West Bengal and which gives a lot of Bengali dishes their distinctive flavour. Steam cooking the mutton also helps retain the flavours and tenderness, making this a lip-smacking introduction to Bengali cuisine.

Hyderabadi biryani

Hyderabadi-biryani

Biryani is a South Asian mixed rice dish made with Basmati rice, meat, yogurt and spices. The Hyderabadi version originally came together as a blend of Mughlai and Iranian cuisine and features raw rice and raw meat cooked together with spices in an earthen pot, over wood or charcoal. The meticulousness of the timing required to cook the meat without overcooking the rice makes this a tricky process, but the results are well worth it.

Masala dosa

A crispy crepe stuffed with a spiced potato mash, the masala dosa is a delicious, and ancient (some say it goes back 2,000 years) staple originally from South India. First made in Karnataka, the potato masala is seasoned with mustard seeds, coriander leaves, onions, green chilies, coconut chutney and ginger, wrapped up in a thin dosa and served with various chutneys. A perfect idea for breakfast.

Kebab

India-kebab

Kebabs in India are much more than meats grilled on wooden sticks. Kakori kebab and galauti kabab are traditional dishes with more than 100 years of history. The kakori kebab is made with minced lamb or mutton, seasoned with black pepper, garlic paste and other Indian spices. The galouti kebab, best served in Lucknow, is said to incorporate more than 150 Indian spices, giving it a flavour medley that leaves other kebabs in the dust. Roasted or grilled over a charcoal fire, these meaty patties redefine what you know as a kebab.

Modak

Modak

Popular in many parts of India, modak is an Indian sweet flour dumpling filled with freshly grated coconut and jaggery. Fried or steamed, it’s perfect served with ghee. This is also a traditional sweet prepared fresh for festivals and ceremonies. Today, new fillings such as saffron, chocolate and nuts are added to make those modak even more moreish.

Aloo gobhi

Aloo-ghobi

Made with soft potatoes, cauliflower and spices, this vegetarian dish is one of the most popular in India. It’s healthy and homely and goes perfectly with all sorts of other dishes, especially mild curries, rice and flatbreads. Fresh tomatoes and curry leaves are used in some restaurants to enhance the smell and color. A classic and a must-try.

Paddu

Paddu

Also known as kuzhi paniyaram or gunta ponganalu, this crispy-soft, savory puffed dosa is loved by adults and children alike. Crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, the batter is made of black lentils and rice. It can be made sweet or spicy depending on the mix ingredients, which can include carrots, onions, coconut or brown sugar. By steaming the batter using a mould, it’s a popular tea time snack.

Tandoori chicken

Chicken-tandoori

Marinated in a spicy yogurt marinade, the chicken in this famous dish is roasted in a cylindrical clay oven. The gravy is seasoned with spices and other aromatic inclusions such as cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves, building layers of flavor. Originally from the Punjab, a juicy yet slightly charred rendition makes for a perfect barbecue addition.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon fly to Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi each week. 

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