The Best of India’s Cuisine: 12 Must-Try Dishes

  • Bunnik Tours
  • 21 Nov 23

India boasts a culinary tapestry that reflects its rich cultural heritage. While you may have sampled some of the classics like butter chicken and samosas, Indian cuisine is a treasure trove waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

Mouth fresheners in Jaipur, India by Priscilla Aster

Mouth fresheners in Jaipur, India by Priscilla Aster

Keep reading as we set off on a delicious journey through the four corners of India, detailing some of the must-try dishes this incredible country has on offer.



North India 

Northern Indian cuisine is a total symphony of flavours as you traverse the cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. In the north, you’ll typically find lots of breads and curries, bursting with flavours like cumin, cinnamon and coriander to name a few.


Meaning 'layers of cooked dough', this delicious flatbread is crispy and flaky. It’s also perfect on its own or as an accompaniment with most Indian dishes. This one’s a total must try!


For those seeking a little more adventure, Niharis is a slow-cooked stew that teases the taste buds with succulent mutton in a rich blend of spices. It's a dish that encapsulates the heritage and tradition of North Indian cooking.


Indulge your sweet tooth with Jalebi, a traditional breakfast dish. These deep-fried swirls of flour, dipped in a sugary syrup, are a masterpiece of textures and flavours.

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South India

Calling all spice fanatics! Southern Indian cuisine is considered to be the hottest of all Indian food, tempering dishes with chillies and various spices. In the south, you’ll generally find that the cuisine is based around rice, lentils and stews.


Crepe-like pancakes made from the batter of fermented rice and lentils, these thin savoury delights are served hot. Whether filled with spiced potatoes or enjoyed with coconut chutney, dosa is a versatile and beloved dish perfect for any time of the day.


A staple dish in most south Indian homes, this popular stew is made with lentils, mixed vegetables, tamarind, herbs and spices, including a special aromatic spice known as sambar powder. It can be eaten on its own, but sambar is best enjoyed with rice or dosa.


A delicious (yet healthy!) savoury cake, idlis are moon-shaped rice cakes made from a fermented batter. A typical breakfast food, these cakes are light, fluffy and versatile as they can be enjoyed with chutney, yogurt or sambar.

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East India

A delightful blend of flavours and culinary traditions can be found in east Indian cuisine. Because of the climate, rice, vegetables and fruits are grown in abundance in eastern India, which is reflected in their fresh, yet deliciously simple, dishes.


A traditional Indian sweet originating in the state of Bengal, this yummy dessert consists of fresh paneer, sugar and spices such as cardamon and saffron. As if it wasn’t delicious enough, these little bites are typically garnished with pistachios, almonds or crushed pineapple.


More so a method rather than a dish, Jalfrezi is a classic Indian technique for preparing a style of curry made through frying marinated pieces of meat or vegetables in a mix of spices and oil to produce a thick gravy. It’ll typically also include green chili peppers, so the dishes made can often range from medium spice level to super hot!

Litti chokha

This dish is a well-known delicacy from the state of Bihar, and luckily enough is delicious and nutritious! Litti is a dough ball made from whole wheat flour and gram flour, mixed with a blend of herbs and spices. It’s served with a vegetable mash called chokha, with the main ingredients being potato, tomato or brinjal.

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West India

Renowned for its dishes full of spice and flavour, west Indian food is a melting pot of Portuguese, British and African influences – it’s said that this Indian region has the most diverse style of food! Culturally the west Indian states are largely Hindu and vegetarian, although the cuisine does include several scrumptious meat dishes.


Not for the faint hearted, this traditional curry is a fiery, spicy dish consisting of slow cooked meat (like beef or pork), caramelised onion, coconut milk and a plethora of spices. This tasty dish has become famous in British Indian cuisine, although its roots can be found in the western state of Goa.   

Vada pav

This dish is a popular vegetarian street food and there’s good reason for it. A deep-fried potato dumpling mixed with spices placed in a fluffy bread roll and often laced with sweet and spicy flavoursome chutney, it’s a delicious and simple treat!

Malabar matthi curry (fish curry)

A Goan dish, this mouth-watering spicy curry features sardines simmered in a coconut milk-based sauce and an aromatic medley of spices. This dish reflects the coastal flavours of India, and it’s best served with rice and traditional breads like appam or pathiri.

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Whether you're after a spicy, flavoursome dish (not hard to find!) or craving something a little sweeter, every region you visit in India will have you totally covered with unique food offerings. So keep this list in mind if you're considering a trip to India, or if you're just in need of some culinary inspiration.

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