There are plenty of things India should be proud of, food being just one. Travelling around India is the best way to get a real grasp of the infinite variety of Indian food that is spread around all corners of the country. But if you are lacking either the time or the money (or both), we are here to take you on an armchair tour of India’s culinary mix.

Punjab

Travel around the state of Punjab and it will soon become clear that meat and bread are the staple foods in these parts. Food that is cooked and enjoyed here is hearty and filling. This is in part due to the vast number of rural communities still working the land in this region. Meat is commonly cooked in a tandoor oven, traditionally a clay oven heated above a charcoal fire but also an electric version these days. Curries that originate in Punjab have thick and creamy sauces with moderate spice.

Popular dishes include: Naan, roti, chicken tikka, sheekh kebab, aloo muttar and samosa.

West Bengal

There are a couple of types of food that come to mind when you think of Bengalis. One is fish, the other is sweets. The former is eaten nearly on a daily basis; it is fried, curried, stewed, roasted and steamed – the list goes on. In fact, it is said that fish can be cooked in over 100 completely different ways – especially if a Bengali is in the kitchen. The other food Bengalis can’t get enough of is sweets, and they are known for having a rather sweet tooth.

Popular dishes: Machcher jhol (fish curry), mutton biryani, daab chingri (coconut prawn curry), rasgulla (sweets) and sandesh (sweets).

daab-chingri-bengal

Kerala

With its sprawling coastline it comes as little surprise that the speciality of Kerala is seafood. There is an abundance of palm trees making coconut another regular on Keralan menus. Coconut oil is also used as the cooking oil for many dishes in the state to impart that unique coconut flavour. Breakfast is usually a rice-based dish such as puttu and idli, and lunch and dinner are known as sadya – a vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf with rice and chutneys.

Popular dishes include: Rice, dosas, Malabar biryani, konchu varuthathu (prawn fry), meen pollichathu (spicy steamed fish) and sambar.

Goa

Goan cuisine is dominated by its use of seafood and pork. The influence of the Portuguese is still evident in the food of the state, with many Portuguese dishes having been adapted and given an Indian twist.

Popular dishes include: Goan fish curry and pork vindaloo.

Gujurat

Traditionally a vegetarian state, Gujarati cuisine is characterised by its simultaneously sweet, salty and spicy taste. Popular dishes include: Gujarati thali, khichdi (rice and lentil dish) and undhiya (mixed vegetable curry).

If you would like to further explore the food of India, a visit to one of London’s fine dining Indian restaurants will give you a real taste of the country. The menu features dishes from a number of states and definitely delivers on flavour.