As overused as the metaphor "melting pot" is for describing India, it also accurately sums up the spirit of this country. Every single element of what makes a culture, is a melange of hues when it comes to India. Seriously, from the things we wear to the things we say to the things we eat, each category is suffused with a mind-boggling volume of variety. And if for some reason, you set out to explore "Indian cuisine" specifically, the distinctness you experience with every 100 kms you cover in the country, is unbelievable.
I honestly think that the term Indian cuisine is oversimplified in itself. Because there isn't a homogenous food type we like to collectively consume across India. Every region you go to, will greet you with a plate entirely different from the previous one in content, appearance and taste. All this to say, the food you find in India, is a lot more than a bowl of curry. And while we're sure you can get your hands on Indian food, in most other countries you visit, there are certain dishes so uniquely Indian, the possibility of coming across them ends with the nation's border.
I think you know what's about to follow. Owing to our sheer love for food, and also the upcoming occasion of World Food Day, we decided to take a look at 15 unique dishes one will only ever find in India. And here's us sharing this mouth-watering list!
1. Khorisa Maas From Assam
Khorisa Maas is the name of a traditional Assamese dish comprising of fish and bamboo shoots. The word Khorisa stands for fermented bamboo shoot, an ingredient you will find in a number of delicacies of Assam. The dish of Khorisa Maas makes for a flavoursome non-vegetarian side dish in Assamese cuisine, best accompanied by a steaming plate of rice. The pieces of fish are fried in mustard oil and spices, along with spoonfuls of fresh bamboo shoot and a tablespoon of bamboo shoot juice added to the mix.
Image Courtesy - Pinterest
2. Tilkut From Bihar
Immensely popular in the state of Bihar, Tilkut is a traditional sweet, especially made and eaten during the festival of Makar Sankranti. Also known as Til Kuta and Tilkatri, this sweet is made of grounded till or what is more popularly known as sesame seeds, coupled with generous amounts of gud or jaggery. Traditionally, the sesame seeds are pounded by hand, and made into a disc-like shape, although circular, oval, cylindrical, or even cuboid shapes are common as well.
Image Courtesy - Outlook India
3. Shorshe Baata Illish From West Bengal
As a Bengali myself, I think I'm more than qualified to personally review this dish. And after so many years of tasting it, I've summarised my opinion in one word - divine. Comprising of Hilsa fish cooked in a gravy of grounded mustard seeds, this delicious dish is best enjoyed with a plate of shaadha bhaat, or white rice. It's packed with fiery savoury flavours and hints of subtle sweetness, and trust me when I say nothing brings more bliss to a Bong, than a lunch platter of Shorshe Illish.
4. Lyodur Tschaman From Kashmir
This may come as a surprise to some of us, but Kashmiri cuisine is a lot more than well-cooked mutton and Rogan Josh. Take this heavenly paneer dish for instance! Lyodur means yellow, which is indicative of the turmeric used in this gravy, while Tschaman stands for cottage cheese. This creamy turmeric-based paneer gravy is mild in taste yet rich in flavours and to nobody's surprise, a constant favourite amongst Kashmiri vegetarians!
Image Courtesy - Kashmir Patrika
5. Undhiyu From Gujarat
A classic mixed vegetable dish from the state of Gujarat, Undhiyu has a history as interesting, as its taste is flavoursome. The name of this dish comes from the Gujarati word of "undhu", which translates literally to upside down, and symbolises the traditional method of cooking the dish upside down underground in earthen pots that are fired from above. It's a one-pot casserole dish comprising of a melange of winter vegetables like green peas, potatoes, Purple Yam, eggplant, raw banana etc, and fenugreek dumplings.
Image Courtesy - Archana's Kitchen
6. Bhutte Ka Kees From Madhya Pradesh
A popular lip-smacking street-food snack hailing from the city of Indore in MP, Bhutte Ka Kees is essentially grated corn cooked with spices and simmered in milk. The famous dish is a perfect tea-time snack, and surprisingly easy to whip up at home with just a handful of ingredients. The snack is absolutely delicious with a very unique taste unlike any dish you've had before, which makes it a true must-have speciality whenever you find yourself in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
Image Courtesy - Archana's Kitchen
7. Alu Vadi From Maharasthra
Also known as Patra or Pathrode, this delicious dish is made of Colocasia / taro root leaves, or the leaves of the vegetable we know as Arbi. The leaves are first steamed, and then after getting smeared in Besan, rolled up one after another. It's a delicate preparation brimming with tang and taste, that's actually made in various other parts of India as well, such as UP, Bihar and Gujarat. It's best served as a scrummy snack, alongside a mug of freshly made chai!
Image Courtesy - YouTube
8. Kori Gassi From Karnataka
This is a classic Mangalorean chicken curry made of coconut milk, and it's the signature dish of people hailing from the bunt community, who traditionally inhabit the coastal districts of Karnataka. It's a spicy, fiery chicken curry, with the added mild sweetness of coconut, and a complex mix of tastes owing to the medley of spices used. The concoction of unique and piquant flavours in this dish, make it a total treat for all your senses, in equal measure.
Image Courtesy - Cook 2 Nourish
9. Misa Mach Poora From Mizoram
A highly popular dish in Northeastern cuisine, Misa Mach Poora is traditionally made with grilled shrimps cooked in mustard oil, orange zest, lemon juice, and an assortment of spices. This delish side-dish is typically spiced with coriander and peppercorn, and the shrimps are grilled on banana leaves placed on hot charcoal. It's packed with the decadent flavours of smoky seafood, and is best accompanied by a generous lump of rice.
Image Courtesy - Snapper
10. Bafauri From Chattisgarh
An unassuming, no-frills snack popular in the state of Chattisgarh, you can think of Bafauri as a healthier alternative to your general pakodas. The primary ingredient in this light dish is that of steamed Chana Dal, with seasonal vegetables getting added to the mix in some recipes, for a healthier and more filling version.
Image Courtesy - Cookilicious
Also Read: 6 Tasty Twists To The Classic Vada Pav
11. Patoleo From Goa
The signature Goan sweet of Patoleo comprises of parboiled rice cooked with jaggery, coconut and a dash of cinnamon, followed by wrapping the steamed filling in turmeric leaves. Also known as Patoli, this dish is typically prepared for feast of the Assumption of Mary, along with certain other festive occasions by both the Hindu and Catholic communities in Goa. The rice used in the recipe is of a local Goan variety, known as ukda tandul.
Image Courtesy - One Teaspoon Of Life
12. Mawa Kachori From Rajasthan
A Rajasthani snack made of mawa or evaporated milk solids, Mawa Kachori is one of the most popular sweet treats one can find in the state. These are Indian hand pies comprising of dried milk, all-purpose flour and dried fruits, and coated with copious amounts of aromatic sugar syrup. This exotic pastry recipe makes for the perfect festive dessert, and flawlessly sums up the rich tastes of the state it originates from!
Image Courtesy - Youtube
13. Idiyappam From Kerala
Also known as string hoppers, Idiyappam is a traditional delicacy popularly made and gorged on in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, as well as the island country of Sri Lanka. This speciality snack is made from rice flour or idiyappam flour, which is pressed into the form of noodles and then steamed in a steamer basket or a bamboo steamer. In South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines, this delicious preparation is usually served with dishes like stews, kormas, egg curries or coconut milk gravy.
Image Courtesy - My Kitchen Corner
14. Singri Ki Sabzi From Haryana
Singri or Sangri is a dried dessert bean particularly adored for its nutritional benefits coupled with a unique taste. And as the name suggests, this is the vegetable used to make this mouthwatering sabzi. The bean grows in dry and arid regions of the country, and this dish is a special preparation you'll find in the state of Haryana. The beans are first soaked in water overnight, followed by being laden in spices, fennel seeds and in some cases, yoghurt.
Image Courtesy - Vini's Cookbook
15. Doh Khlieh From Meghalaya
A traditional delicacy hailing from the state of Meghalaya, Doh khlieh stands for a simple but absolutely lip-smacking pork salad, prepared with diced boiled pork and just a handful of additional ingredients. This dish is quite the wholesome meal even by itself, packed with health benefits and nutrients, along with being rich in its lightly-spiced taste. There are several unique takes on the classic recipe that you can tinker around with, and all are just as delicious!
Image Courtesy - Spoon University
The best part about Indian cuisine is its ability to delightfully surprise you, even after decades of exploration!