Thali is a metal plate, a sort of a tray with several compartments. Served in the traditional way, several dishes come together on the thali, along with the dessert! In South India, thali can be served on a banana leaf. Most thalis contain: white rice, chapattis, dal (lentils), some preparation of vegetables (curry, korma etc), chutneys, raita (beaten yogurt) and a dessert.
Like back in Europe, in India every meal is accompanied by bread. Most commonly, in almost all places, you will always find chapattis. Sometimes served only with rice and vegetables, these small cakes are an integral part of the daily Indian thali and aid the main dish. Every Indian knows how to prepare chapattis. A form of bread that is even tastier because of being cooked over wood fire is the ’naan’. Well known abroad, this bread can be decorated with garlic (garlic naan), cheese (cheese naan) or simply butter (butter naan). The naans are cooked in tandoor. Finally, the famous South Indian paranthas are different from other Indian pancakes because their dough contains a little fat, making them taste smoother. They can also be stuffed with potato, a special treat at breakfast!
In a predominantly vegetarian country, meat is often replaced by other proteins such as lentils. They are mostly cooked in oil with spices, and depending on their colour, there are different recipes to cook different dals. The best are no doubt the yellow dal and a creamy dish of black lentils (dal makhani).
Momos are famous dumplings of the Himalayas that you will find commonly in restaurants or small eateries along the road in Nepal, Ladakh and Tibet. They are either steamed or fried. There’s something for everyone, since they might be filled with vegetables or stuffed with meat. They are usually eaten with a spicy sauce and sometimes a soup.
The dosas are a specialty of South India. These large, fine and savoury crepes are prepared from rice flour, lentils or chickpea. Very popular in India, they are served with a spicy vegetable broth, chutneys and coconut. The famous masala dosa is stuffed with potatoes, spices and chopped onions!
A trip in India without chai is like an Indian without a mustache. It is the Indian national drink that you must never turn down. Ideal for short breaks and chats with the locals, have it on the roadside or in the narrow streets of old towns. You’ll love the addictive taste of cardamom, and you can drink it without worry! The Indian boiled milk tea is made fragrant with many spices: cloves, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom. Another Indian specialty, try the lassi. This creamy yogurt drink is delicious, whether taken plain or blended with fruit.
The Tandoor is a common way to cook food mainly in the North of India and the Himalayas. The tandoor is a hollow earthenware oven wherein we plunge skewers laden with chicken or paneer, and wherein the famous naan is also cooked. A special preparation called Tikka, a spicy marinade, is applied to the tandoori skewers.
The meaning of the term curry is very different in India and Europe. In Indian cuisine, curry means a dish cooked with a sauce or "gravy" made up of a mixture of spices (masala). There are many different recipes cooked in this way, including the excellent fish curry of South India. It is usually decorated with an aromatic plant called Indian curry leaf that many grow at home.
The kebabs are not like the sandwiches of Europe. These kebabs are found mainly in North India. Mutton, chicken, paneer or vegetables, the pieces are first marinated before being cooked in the tandoor. After enough surveys, it has been proven that the kebabs are one of the specialties of the Old Delhi area of the capital, New Delhi.
The biryani is a cooked rice dish that is prepared in the pilaf way, with many spices. It can be vegetarian or with meat, often topped with small raisins and cashews. Served as a pyramid, it is a main dish in itself. Choose to accompany it with raita (beaten yogurt) to calm the heat of the spices.
India immediately evokes the word "spicy" in everyone’s minds. If there is one country that has a rich cuisine distinguished by its variety, it is India. So many of the spices and vegetables found here are exclusive to the subcontinent. Both a producer and a consumer, Kerala has spice gardens that have given the region its worldwide reputation. The important historical Spice Market is located in Fort Cochin even today. The prestigious black pepper, the excellent turmeric, and cardamom are among the world’s best spices. Masala means a mixture of spices, which need not necessarily be spicy.