foods of India - streettrotter

10 Lesser known FOODS OF INDIA

India! Stereotypically, the very first thing that comes to one’s mind when you hear “India”, is the land of snake charmers and home to the Taj Mahal. But is it just restricted these? Definitely not. Spices is the most important part of the Indian cuisine and one can never imagine the food of India without the aroma of its spices.

“Indian cuisine uses the whole palette of flavours – spicy, sour, sweet, and hot all at the same time – making it something that wants to jump off the plate,” says Floyd Cardoz, the executive chef and a partner of North End Grill in New York City and the author of One Spice, Two Spice. 

India is also known for its diversity and that is what is said about Indian cuisine as well. Hence, it is not astonishing that in its food styles and customs too, there lies wide and vivid variation in all the four corners of the country just like its diversity.

We are well aware of the famous “aloo ka paratha” of the North, “dosas” of the South, varieties of “fish curries” of the East and “dhoklas” of the West; but what about the other dishes which are delicious too but are obscured by the unmatched popularity of the common Indian dishes? Here is the glimpse of some rather not-so-popular native dishes from various parts of the Indian subcontinent, that we bet not much, but are true to the food culture of India…

#1 – Benami Kheer

foods of India - streettrotterOur elders often find a way of mysteriously feeding us what we refuse to eat; the hard to like things like bitter gourd, pumpkins, etc. A very similar trend was prevalent even during the Mughal Period in India. A mouth-watering dessert, Benami Kheer, was quite popular. Only a few know that it was made up of garlic! Yes, you read it absolutely correct, Kheer – an Indian dessert – made out of a rather healthy ingredient – “garlic”.

#2 – Patishapata

Yet another sweet dish, but with no such hidden ingredients. Patishapata is a well known sweet in the households of Bengal, solely prepared in the winter months, especially on the day of rice harvesting. It looks like a pancake, made out of the batter of rice flour, milk, and little sugar and stuffed with a mixture of minced coconut and jaggery. It is further served with liquid jaggery on top. 

#3 – Sidu

foods of India - streettrotterSidu. The picture might remind you of a domino garlic bread, but wait, it’s not! Sidu is a snack from Himachal, made of wheat and stuffed with walnut, which makes it much healthier to eat and is served with a classic Indian green chutney.

#4 – Bhey

What sounds like a weird word to pronounce, “Bhey” is actually a drum roll – LOTUS STEM. It is quite a popular raw material to be added in various foods of India and a common item in the kitchens of Punjab, also known as Kamal Kakdi. Full of fibre, Bhey ki sabzi, is basically the stems of the lotus plant, cooked as a sabzi.

#5 – Gojjavalakki or Huli Avalakki

Poha is quite a common breakfast dish from south India, and most of us have enjoyed a hot plate of on our breakfast table at some time or the other in our life. This dish is very similar to the common Poha, but with a Mongolian touch to it, commonly found in the state of Karnataka. It is a spicier version of poha, made in a way that after the preparation of Poha it is dipped in a spicy curry. The Poha then absorbs the curry and becomes spicy and much juicer as well.

#6 – Pyaz ka Halwa

Many of us pull back with the very thought of consuming onions. But what about having a halwa of that very thing? Confused right? Trust us, it tastes amazingly well and equally unique. Pyaz ka Halwa is made by frying onions, adding milk and sugar to them, just like a regular halwa. Though it does not belong to any particular place to be specific, but found in various smaller pockets of India.

#7 – Gunda ki sabzi

Gunda is a berry commonly found in Gujarat. As a result, the locals prepare a tangy sabzi using the berries; and it consists of red chilies, raw mangoes, and methi. Be it its color, or its unique flavor, the dish is super tantalizing to eat.

#8 – Chapra

foods of India - streettrotterRED. the color itself gives us the feel of hotness; but now think of “red ants”. We are pretty sure you have already imagined the hotness of its bite. Chapra is a chutney liked especially by the tribals of Chhattisgarh. It is made from red ants, their eggs and is spicy in nature. A few of us may find this unappealing, however, do keep in mind that even foreigners make dishes comprising of red ants, as it contains natural paracetamol in its very composition.

#9 – Black Rice

foods of India - streettrotterWhenever we think of rice, the color that comes to our mind is white. But, Black rice, also known as Forbidden Rice or Magic Rice, is a variation of the common rice which is exceedingly eaten in Manipur, Northern Bengal and parts of Kerala. According to health experts, black rice is extremely beneficial. It is not only good for the heart but also prevents diabetes, obesity and is a natural detoxifier. 

#10 – Chicken Dak Bungalow

Dak Bungalow Murgh (or Dak Bungalow Chicken) is a colonial recipe from the days of the British rule in India. Historically this rather simple chicken curry is said to have been prepared in the Dak Bungalows or the resting houses of Calcutta where the British government officials rested during their hunting expedition or during a night stay on between journeys.

About the author: Anasua Sengupta is a fashion and design enthusiast and a zealous foodie. By qualification, she is a Fashion Designer from Pearl Academy, Jaipur and is currently perusing Fashion Communication at National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bangalore. She is a complete hippie soul yet having her roots grounded to her very own Indian cultural values. She loves cooking, traveling and exploring new cultures.



StreetTrotter is a Travel, Culture & Lifestyle blog, inspiring people everyday with real stories to look good and travel even better. Founded in 2012 by Shraddha Gupta, Founder & COO, this space is all about experiencing new things in life, be it a daring mountain trek, a frugal backpacking trip, a runway look made local, or simply anything that scares you enough to live a little more deeper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.