India is a country that will surprise you in all kind of ways possible, their places, their people, their atmosphere, everything is somehow different to the rest of the countries. The one thing that impressed us the most was their food, although there are not many popular Indian foods all over the world and we are not very used to eat them in our countries, as soon as you try them you will want to learn the recipes and make them at home.
Today we will talk about the most famous food in India, about its characteristics and about which dishes you will need to try if you travel to India.
Top 10 most popular Indian dishes
There are like a million varieties of foods to try in India, and plenty of those are delicious, but it would take us forever to complete a full list, so we decided to do a shorter list with the 10 most famous Indian dishes you cannot miss. They are tasty, but if you have any other recommendation, let us know at the end of the article.
🍛 1) Indian butter Chicken
Let´s start our Indian food list with one of the most common Indian dishes, the Indian butter chicken. The butter chicken is also known as chicken Makhani.
You will find two variations of this dish, the Murg Makhani which is based on marinating the chicken, and the instant pot butter chicken, which is the common way as it takes less time to make it.
This dish is famous for being very flavoury as its main ingredients are butter, garlic, cream, tomato and of course, spices like cumin, garam masala and ginger.
🍞 2) Naan (Flat bread)
When you are talking about the most popular Indian food in the world, you can´t miss the Naan or also known as flat bread. It´s something you will find in absolutely every Indian meal; they use it to accompany other dishes.
The naan is a bread that it´s made at a tandoor oven, but since probably you don´t have one of those at home, you can also make it just by baking it at your own oven.
Everyone loves this bread because it´s a combination of crispy and chewy, plus, there are different ways of making it: With cheese, with chilli, with garlic or just by itself without any additional ingredient.
🥟 3) Samosas
We have good news! If you are looking for the famous Indian street for or if you are vegan and you would like to try some of the best vegan Indian dishes, then we would advise you trying the samosas.
Samosas are a deep-fried potato dumpling which its based just in a few ingredients: Spiced potatoes, lentils, onions, and peas (As you can see, it´s also one of the easiest Indian foods).
Although the samosas can include ground beef, chicken, or lamb, they are normally vegan. It´s very common to order them as a snack on a street food market.
🌮 4) Masala Dosa
We are going to include another vegan dish on our list of the most popular food in India. In this case, we are talking about the Masala Dosa, which is a very strange dish…You probably have heard about French crepes, but have you ever heard of a crepe made out of fermented lentils and rice?
The dosa is a famous dish from South India in general, but the Masala dosa is originally made from the region of Karnataka and now it´s becoming so popular that is even known in other countries.
As you can see in the picture, the Masala dosa is always served with different sauces, and you can stuff the inside with different ingredients, but the common ones are potato and onion curry.
🥘 5) Hyderabadi biriyani
In case you haven´t realised yet, Indian people are rice lovers and they have like a million types of rice dishes, this one is the Biriyani, which it´s origins are actually not from India, but from Turkey, Pakistan and Mongolia (It was brought to India by the Mughals)
There are many ways of cooking Biriyani, but the typical in India is the Hyderabadi biriyani, you will need a few ingredients for it: rice, meat (chicken or lamb), yogurt, onions and of course spices.
The Hyderabadi biriyani is for sure one of the famous dishes in India, but especially in the city of Hyderabad, and actually that´s the reason why it´s called that way.
🍠 6) Pakora
One of the most popular snacks in India (also in Pakistan), is the Pakora or also known with any of these different names: Pikora, Pakoda, Fakkura, Bhajiya, Bhajji or Ponako.
The pakora is basically a dish that consists in frying vegetables in chickpea flour. On this dish you will normally choose another main ingredient that can be onion, eggplant, spinach, potato, tomato, or many other variations. Last of all, you can use Garam Masala or coriander to give it more flavour.
The pakora is also a very famous fast food in India, it´s very common to find it in markets and street shops. You will normally eat it as a snack or aperitive before the main lunch.
🍍 7) Carambola
The people of India also love to eat their traditional Indian fruits, there are many of them, and you can find a majority in street markets. One of the most popular fruits in India is the Carambola, or also known as the star fruit.
The Carambola comes from the Averrhoa carambola tree, and it´s not endemic to India as you can find it in other countries of South Asia as well. As you can imagine, the star fruit is a tropical fruit only cultivated in tropical areas.
The reason of its name is pretty obvious, when it´s cut in cross-section, the fruit has the shape of a star. It´s also very normal to use this fruit to make juices as it is rich in vitamin C.
🍰 8) Dhokla
Of course, when you are talking about the traditional food of India, you must mention their sweets and desserts as it´s one of their specialities. A very common Indian sweet is the Dhokla, we got to try it during our trip to Gujarat and it was delicious.
As it happens with most of Gujarati dishes, the Dhokla is also vegetarian, and it´s made with rice and chickpea. Its recipe consists of mixing fermented rice batter with chickpeas and then garnish it with coriander and mustard seeds.
The Dhokla is considered more like a sweet snack than a dessert, you can eat it as an aperitive before lunch or during breakfast.
🥨 9) Jalebi
The Jalebi is a typical sweet from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It´s origin comes from North India, being more concrete from the Punjab, a region located very close to Pakistan.
To make Jalebi some of the ingredients you will need are the Maida, all-purpose flour, curd yogurt, sugar, oil, and water. Of course, it´s a fried dessert and it´s made with sugar, plus, it´s really good if you accompany it with a glass of milk.
The good thing about this dish is that it´s considered one of those quick and easy Indian foods, so you can make it at home and feel like if you were in India.
🌰 10) Rasgulla
We are finishing our list of the top 10 famous foods in India with one of our favorite Indian dishes, the rasgulla.
The rasgulla is famous for its ball shape, and the reason of that shape is that it´s main ingredient is the ball of chhena (which is an Indian cottage cheese), other than that you will also need to use semolina dough and it will need to be cooked in a light syrup made of sugar.
A curious fact about this traditional Indian dish is that there are two regions who claim to be the birthplace of the dessert. It is said that the Ragulla is original from Odisha and the region of West Bengal invented a variation of it sometime later.
Other interesting facts about Indian food
Those were the top 10 best Indian foods, but as you can imagine there are many other popular dishes in India, so we would advise you to innovate and try others that are not so famous. Before living us, we are going to tell you about the characteristics of Indian food, that way you will know what to expect before trying their dishes:
India is the land of spices
One of the Indian facts everyone knows is that India is a paradise if you are spice lover. The food of India would not be the same if they didn´t have so many spices.
Maybe you didn´t know this, but 70% of the total´s world spices come from India, and it´s not just that they are the largest producers of spices in the world, they also consume any of them and their dishes always have at least one or two kind of spices added.
Black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom are just some examples of spices that come from India.
The food of India is mostly vegan and vegetarian
We didn´t know it until we visited the country, but a big percentage of the most popular Indian meals are either vegan or vegetarian. Just so you can have an idea, India is considered the vegetarian capital of the world.
The main ingredients they use are rice, chickpea, their spices, and vegetables, that´s why they don´t really need to eat much meat or fish.
Being more concrete, the state of Gujarat is the biggest vegetarian area in the world, around 60% of the population from Gujarat are vegetarian
Eating with your hands in India
One of the “Mind blowing facts about Indian food” is that it´s very often eaten with hands. When we visited India last year, what surprised us the most was seeing that Indian locals eat with their hands almost in every meal.
Specially in not so touristic areas, Indian locals would never use a fork or a spoon to eat, if it´s a soup they absorb it, and if it´s rice or noodles they use their hands.
The reason why Indian people eat with their hands, is because they believe there is a spiritual connection when you are touching the food, plus, they think we were created with hands to use them when we eat.
It´s not a typical Indian food if it doesn´t come with bread or rice
We have seen it in other countries as well, but in Europe or in United States people are not used to eat rice every day, well in India is a must, and not just rice, they also have a few slices of flat bread with them to.
A curious and fun fact about Indian food, is that they don´t consider it a main meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) if there is no rice on the table.
For this reason, you will find many varieties of bread and rice through all India, and some of them are delicious!
Is the food from India Spicy?
Last of all, we needed to clarify one huge stereotype about Indian food. Although they do have some real spicy dishes, the majority of the food in India is not spicy at all.
People tend to associate the fact that they use many spices with being a very hot food, but in this case is not true. Plus, what Indian people always do is to compensate the flavours, which means that if they are eating something spicy, they will have something sweet on the table to make it less hot.
So, if you are travelling to India, don´t worry so much about spicy food, for example countries like Indonesia or China have dishes that are way more painful!
Hope you enjoyed reading about the famous Indian food
That´s it, that´s all you needed to know about the most famous Indian food, we definitely recommend you trying them all to have a full experience of what Indian food is like.
We know there are many other typical Indian dishes, so if you think we have forgotten any, we would love to hear about it. Any other question, please let us know as well.