5 Of The Best Culinary Experiences In India That You Must Have – Janice Guedes
A culinary experience is unforgettable because it’s not the usual serving of food on a table and you on a chair. There’s always a story behind it, some magic in the surroundings and the bite of culture you take is what makes it all the more enticing. Sometimes, these experiences involve being served ingredients you’ve never tried, or for that matter, even heard of before.
Having something exotic on your plate for the first time can truly get you intrigued and salivating at the same time. When you’re traveling in India, what you eat from AM to PM is a big part of your travel experience. There’s local must-have dishes which are unique for each region, but we’ll be going over the popular dishes that are served in a peculiar manner. These options are actually innumerable and could fill a book!
Let’s dive into the ones that top the charts of a unique culinary experience in India!
Food On A Houseboat In Kerala
If you’re going to travel to Kerala which is the South of India, chances are you’d spend a night on a houseboat to experience the beautiful backwaters of the state. Spending a night on the houseboat means quiet, peaceful time and fantastic food.
The feast on a houseboat involves 3 meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Your culinary affair begins from the time you step on the boat when you’re served fresh coconut water. All the dishes will be served to you in the traditional Kerala style. Best part is you get to participate in the preparation of the feast. You can be that child in the kitchen looking at all the spices, elements that are going into the pan, this is all happening inside the in-house kitchen on your boat. You could ask the chef questions on how it’s prepared and you’d learn names of the fish delicacy being served.
The most exciting part of this culinary experience is that it’s a catch and cook experience. Your participation in the selection of the fish and seeing a live presentation of the meal being prepared with an in-house cook makes this a unique experience.
Once the rice, fried fish and other traditional meals are lined on your table, you’d feel much more than a special guest. Fish curry, lobsters, crab and prawns are the most served dishes on a houseboat making it a seafood feast. You should always check the meals included before booking the houseboat. If you’re vegetarian, you can opt for a veg cuisine too. 1 bedroom houseboat costs anywhere between Rs 8000-10,500 per night.
Seeing your fish delicately marinated in the kitchen to it getting served to you on a sliced banana leaf while touring the lakes of Kerala is truly what makes this culinary experience the top of our list!
Food At The Langar In The Golden Temple, Amritsar
When you first think of Amritsar, you instantly think of the Golden Temple. But the city is also home to the largest community kitchen in the world known as The Langar Hall.
This is where thousands of people are served food prepared by volunteers. The food here claims to feed the soul and stomach. The place is run by volunteers and donations, providing visitors unlimited food. The dishes served here change nearly everyday, it’s delicious, nutritious and there’s plenty for all. Here, in all honesty you’d see no tables or chairs but everyone sitting on ground level, cross-legged and enjoying the same meal.
There are multiple kitchen areas where you would see gigantic size pots, pans and spoons stirring the largest meals being prepared.
The beauty of a meal here is knowing that there are thousands of people working together to make your meal happen. The place was started from a simple idea of a Sikh Guru who believed there should be a place where everyone could sit together and eat the same meal regardless of religion, caste or social status.
The meals here are completely free of cost, vegetarian and the place is open 24 hours. On an average 75,000 people eat a free meal here daily. Remember that you must keep your head covered at all times, so enter the area prepared with a scarf to cover your head.
Men can buy turban cloth and have it wrapped in the traditional Sikh manner outside the temple, there are many shopkeepers outside who will assist you with this. This is a culinary experience like no other as it satiates your soul as well.
Puchka In Kolkata
Street food in Kolkata will have you asking for more and not being satisfied with that first plate. Puchka is the most obsessed over local street food, specially in Kolkata. Every person that makes a visit to this city must try the Puchka. The act of eating a Puchka is an experience in itself. It’s easy to find a Puchka vendor as there’s almost one on every street. These stalls always manage to gather a good crowd as it’s a favorite evening snack for the city dwellers of Kolkata.
A Puchka is round-shaped, deep fried and crispy. A small hole is created on the Puchka to fill it with flavored boil potatoes or chickpeas. It’s then dipped in a bowl of tamarind water before it’s handed to you. You would usually get around 6 servings of these one after the other. You are handed a tiny bowl made of leaf or paper where you are served this tasty snack.
You’re then meant to eat them one after the other without letting the water fall off. The method of eating the Puchka with other standerbys makes this a thrilling culinary experience. Eating on a street, with vehicles passing by and people all waiting to try the same dish is a chaotic yet fun way to have this snack in Kolkata.
You are supposed to put the entire combination of the Puchka in a single bite or the ingredients will spill on you. To avoid the crispy part from becoming soggy, the vendor gives you one Puchka at a time and it’s all on you to manage to finish the first before the next is put in the bowl.
The flavours that burst in your mouth is a mix of sweet and spicy. It would cost you Rs 40-60 for one round of Puchkas. Vardaan Market on Camac Street and Kolkata New Market are good hubs to try out a Puchka.
Thali in Delhi
When you’re most confused about what to choose you can simply enjoy picking different tiny dishes from one huge thali (round platter). A Thali is a combination of various dishes from the menu that are all compiled on one plate.
There could be 30 dishes or more if you’re trying a larger thali. It’s usually best to try this experience if you’re with a group or family so you can all share the meal. Some places provide unlimited refills so do visit a Thali joint on an empty stomach to make the most of it! Eating from a thali in a unique experience as you’re trying small quantities and not limiting yourself to one dish but multiple dishes at one time.
There’s sweet, spicy and savory dishes served in small vessels. Variety of rice dishes and curries too. The meal includes snacks, salads, desserts, main course, everything!
Ardor 2.1 in Connaught place Delhi is the most visited Thali outlet in Delhi. They have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The Khali-Bali Thali served here takes at least 4 people to finish. It would cost approx Rs 500 per person for this Thali. Seeing a picture of this Thali would make you think it’s impossible to finish, but people foodies do leave the plate squeaky clean!
Box of Desserts in Varanasi
People who visit Varanasi, specifically taste the sweet delicacies and you can’t avoid them as you’re bound to spot various sweet shops while exploring the streets of Varanasi.
The holy city produces lots of milk and curd perhaps that’s why you’d find so many sweets having these ingredients as the base. Malaiyo is a special winter dessert that you must try made of milk, saffron, cardamom and even rose water. Another chilled milk-based drink is the Banarasi Thandai usually served in a Kulhad (clay pot) – a combo of dry fruits such as almonds, cashews and pistachio as well as seasonal fruits and of course milk. The consumption of Bhang – which is an edible preparation of cannabis is legal in Varanasi. Bhang is usually combined with the Banarasi Thandai and is tried by people who visit Varanasi.
A Bhang infused drink would cost you approximately Rs 50 and must be had in moderate levels. When cannabis is consumed as an edible it’s impact is much more effectful so in general you must be careful. The drink itself is milk based and chilled. The fact that it is sold and consumed makes it a culinary experience that’s very unique to this city.