Regional Cuisine in India

India is a huge country, and its regions offer many different dishes and varieties…

Popular Northern Indian Dishes

  • Biryani: usually a meat-based dish that is steam-cooked with fragrant basmati rice and spices in a clay pot
  • Chicken tikka: pieces of boneless chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices, before being baked in a clay tandoor oven
  • Rohan gosht: an aromatic lamb dish from Kashmir
  • Murgh makhani: chicken cooked in butter
  • Aloo mutter: a dish made with potatoes and peas
  • Aloo gobi: a dish made with potatoes and cauliflower
  • Dhal makhani: a rich dish made with black lentils and kidney beans
  • Chana masala: a spicy dish of chickpeas and tomatoes
  • Bhindi masala: okra (lady’s fingers) fried with onions and tomatoes
  • Palak paneer: cubes of paneer (a type of cottage cheese) cooked with spinach
  • Samosa: a popular snack made of deep-fried pastry filled with a mixture of potatoes, onions, peas and coriander
  • Poha: flattened rice mixed with onion, potato, turmeric, mustard seeds and green chillies – popular in central India
  • Gulab jamun: fried dumplings soaked in rose-flavoured sugar syrup. One of the most popular desserts across India
  • Carrot halva: a dessert made with carrots, cashews and raisins cooked in milk
  • Kulfi: ice cream made from condensed milk and flavoured with cardamom
  • Kheer: a rich and creamy rice pudding flavoured with cardamom and pistachios

Popular Southern Indian Dishes

  • Idli: a light and fluffy steamed “cake”. Made from a fermented batter of rice and urad dal
  • Dosa: a thin and crispy “pancake” that can be easily folded or rolled. It is made with the same batter as idli
  • Masala dosa: a dosa filled with a potato mixture
  • Uttappam: a thicker dosa topped with tomatoes or onions
  • Vada: made of urad dal and deep-fried, so that it resembles a doughnut
  • Sambhar: accompanies all of the dishes above and is also eaten with rice. This is a thick soup-like sauce made from dhal, vegetables and spices
  • Coconut chutney: eaten with idli, dosa and uttappam. Can also be made of tomato, mint or coriander
  • Poriyal or palya: a side dish made from diced vegetables such as green beans, cabbage or potatoes, mixed with coconut and curry leaves
  • Tomato rice, coconut rice, lemon rice and tamarind rice
  • Rasam: a thin “soup” made of tomato and tamarind, eaten with rice
  • Curd rice: yoghurt mixed with rice, curry leaves, green chillies and ginger, which is eaten at the end of a meal
  • Payasam: a creamy liquid dessert made from jaggery (unrefined sugar) and coconut or dairy milk
  • Jalebi: a deep-fried squiggly-shaped dessert that is soaked in sugar syrup
  • Mysore pak: a popular sweet from Karnataka made of ghee, sugar and gram flour

Bengali Cuisine

Most Bengalis eat meat, and fish is a favourite here, as in other eastern Indian states. Rice is the staple eaten with all dishes. Bengali dishes are often cooked in mustard oil and seasoned with mustard paste and white poppy seeds. A meal is not complete without some Bengali sweets: favourites include rasgulla, made with full-fat milk, and sandesh, which is made with a type of cheese.

  • The West Bengal Tourism website provides more information on Bengali food: Click here

Keralan Cuisine

Seafood is the speciality of coastal Kerala. Coconut is also used liberally: shredded coconut is added to many dishes, coconut oil is used for cooking and coconut milk often replaces dairy milk. Typical dishes include avial, a type of vegetable stew; kaalan, which is made with yoghurt, coconut and raw banana; kadala, a chickpea curry; and fish fry. Fluffy appams (rice pancakes) are popular at breakfast, served with a coconut milk-based stew.

Goan Cuisine

The cuisine in Goa is also heavily dominated by seafood and meat, which is a vestige of its Portuguese colonial past. Some of the most popular dishes include fish curry, pork vindaloo (cooked with garlic and chillies) and xacuti chicken (prepared with coconut, white poppy seeds and chillies).