26 Traditional Indian Foods That Will Change Your Life Forever

1. Biryani


What It Is: An aromatic rice dish cooked with several spices, notably saffron, and a protein (typically chicken or mutton) that’s been marinated.

Perfect For: A huge family dinner.

Feels Like: Hearing the neighborhood mosque sound its azan for evening prayers.


2. Momos


What It Is: A variation on the traditional dimsum, native to the North Eastern states that border Nepal (where the dish originated), eaten with a fiery red chutney.

Perfect For: A quick mid-evening snack.

Feels Like: Kicking your shoes off after a long day and settling into your couch for hours of TV.


3. Idli


What It Is: A heavy South Indian breakfast food. A fermented batter of ground rice and lentils, steamed in little circular moulds.

Perfect For: When you’re done sleeping in on a Saturday morning.

Feels Like: Being woken up by the smell of cooking.


4. Gulab jaamun


What Is It: Small balls of dried milk, slow cooked and boiled in a sugar syrup.

Perfect For: When you’ve already had a delicious meal and have just enough room for dessert.

Feels Like: Playing hide-and-go-seek with your cousins at a family reunion way, way past your bedtime.


5. Chole bhature

26-traditional-indian-foods-that-will-change-your-life-forever-6Via tastyappetite.net

What It Is: A spiced, curried chickpea dish served with a fried flour bread.

Perfect For: A late Sunday breakfast.

Feels Like: Seeing your family all dressed in new clothes on a festival day.


6. Nethili varuval

26-traditional-indian-foods-that-will-change-your-life-forever-7 Via myerecipecorner.blogspot.com

What It Is: Anchovies dipped in a paste of turmeric and red chilies and fried, native to the South Indian region Chettinad.

Perfect For: A crispy, spicy appetizer.

Feels Like: Temple bells.


7. Kati roll



What It Is: A traditional street food popular across India (and abroad). A wrap of kebabs, eggs, vegetables, and spices rolled into paratha (a type of flat bread).

Perfect For: When you need a meal on-the-go. Also a great way to use up leftovers.

Feels Like: Standing on a dusty Kolkata street-corner at dusk, watching families go home through rush hour traffic.


8. Rajma



What It Is: Kidney beans in a thick gravy popular across North India.

Perfect For: An accompaniment for rice, particularly delicious when served piping hot in the winter.

Feels Like: Summer holidays at your grandparents’ house.


9. Pani puri



What It Is: A small crisp hollow round bread filled with spiced water, tamarind paste, potato, onion, and chickpeas.

Perfect For: When you’re craving a thousand flavors at once.

Feels Like: Drunkenly challenging your best friend to a contest of who can eat more of these, and then feeling like your mouth is on fire.


10. Jalebi

26-traditional-indian-foods-that-will-change-your-life-forever-14Via en.wikipedia.org

What It Is: A wheat flour batter deep fried in coil-shapes and soaked in sugar syrup, served hot.

Perfect For: When you want something hot, but also sweet.

Feels Like: People-watching in a crowded bazaar while your mother haggles over sari prices.


11. Tandoori chicken


What It Is: Chicken marinated for hours in a paste of yogurt and spices, and then roasted (traditionally) in a clay oven called a tandoor.

Perfect For: Wowing your dinner guests with minimal effort.

Feels Like: Making a pitstop at a roadside diner three hours into a family roadtrip.


12. Banana chips


What It Is: Thin slices of banana deep fried in savory spices.

Perfect For: Munching on while watching your favorite movie.

Feels Like: The wind flying through your hair as you sail down Kerala’s backwaters in a houseboat.


13. Baingan bharta

26-traditional-indian-foods-that-will-change-your-life-forever-17Sabra Krock / Via nytimes.com

What It Is: Roasted eggplant mashed together with a variety of other vegetables and spices, served with flatbread.

Perfect For: An exciting and fancy vegetarian meal.

Feels Like: Going back for seconds at a family friend’s house.


14. Dosa

26-traditional-indian-foods-that-will-change-your-life-forever-18Via manusmenu.com

What It Is: A crispy, flat bread (similar to a crepe or pancake) made of rice batter, served with a lentil sauce (sambar) and a variety of chutneys.

Perfect For: When you want breakfast to be the highlight of your day.

Feels Like: Recounting last night’s events the morning after a sleepover.


15. Bhelpuri


What It Is: Puffed rice fried with vegetables, in a spicy and tangy tamarind sauce.

Perfect For: When you want a chilled savory snack.

Feels Like: Sitting in the back of a rickshaw at the peak of summer, thankful for the breeze.


16. Vada



What It Is: A South Indian snack staple made of a lentil or flour batter fried into a doughnut shape.

Perfect For: A neutral carb to accompany your craving for chutney and lentils.

Feels Like: A morning raga.


17. Bhindi masala fry



What It Is: Okra stuffed with spices, fried.

Perfect For: A vegetarian dish that’s both exciting and comfort food.

Feels Like: Mom’s cooking.


18. Rogan josh


What It Is: A lamb curry of Persian origin, now popular in the Kashmir area. In India, rogan josh is often made using goat meat instead of lamb.

Perfect For: When you don’t just want a meal – you want a feast.

Feels Like: Strutting around in your nicest traditional finery and feeling like royalty.


19. Dhokla


What It Is: A snack/breakfast food from the state of Gujurat, made of fermented rice and chickpea batter.

Perfect For: An very, very light yet very, very flavorful snack.

Feels Like: Gossiping with your aunts and cousins for hours.


20. Gaajar halwa



What It Is: An extremely popular dessert, made by cooking grated carrot with milk, sugar, and dried fruits.

Perfect For: A piping hot wintertime dessert.

Feels Like: Wrapping a shawl around yourself and sitting by a heater on a chilly Delhi evening.


21. Pakora


What It Is: A fritter native to the Indian state Uttar Pradesh – one or more basic ingredients (onion, eggplant, potato, cauliflower, and chili peppers are all options) are dipped in gram flour and deep fried.

Perfect For: Rainy days.

Feels Like: Sitting by a window during a monsoon afternoon, bonding with your family over hot chai.


22. Rumali roti



What It Is: The word “rumal” is Hindi for handkerchief, and this bread resembles one; it is large, as thin as cloth, and served folded like a napkin.

Perfect For: When you need bread but want something lighter than naan.

Feels Like: Watching with child-like awe as a chef tosses the dough up in the air and spins it in circles.


23. Papri chaat

26-traditional-indian-foods-that-will-change-your-life-forever-31Manuela Zangara / Via manusmenu.com

What It Is: Crispy, fried dough wafers served with boiled potatoes, boiled chick peas, chilis, yogurt, tamarind chutney, and several spices.

Perfect For: A healthy and multi-flavored snack.

Feels Like: Rewatching an old Bollywood movie with your mom, for the eighth time.


24. Kulfi

26-traditional-indian-foods-that-will-change-your-life-forever-32Via kurryleaves.blogspot.com

What It Is: An iced preparation made from thickened milk, almonds and pistachios.

Perfect For: When you’re craving ice-cream but with an Indian touch.

Feels Like: A street fair.


25. Recheado masala fish

26-traditional-indian-foods-that-will-change-your-life-forever-33Via flavorsofmumbai.com

What It Is: A spicy paste made of chilies, tamarind, and garlic (amongst other spices) is rubbed onto whole fish which are then fried.

Perfect For: Satisfying your seafood craving and spice craving all at once.

Feels Like: Sitting on a beach in Goa, watching the waves roll in.


26. And, finally, samosas


What It Is: A fried or baked triangular snackfood made of a potato stuffing, usually also containing onions and peas, served with a mint chutney.

Perfect For: Literally anytime, anywhere.

Feels Like: Home.

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