UNIQUE & LESSER-KNOWN INDIAN CUISINES & DISHES
Step into a world where flavors dance on your palate, where aromatic spices and unique ingredients transport you to a realm of culinary enchantment. Beyond the familiar dishes that have charmed the world, lies a treasure trove of lesser-known Indian cuisines, waiting to be discovered and savored. zculinary heritage - the extraordinary, the distinctive, and the often overlooked. Embark with us on a voyage that will tantalize your taste buds and open your eyes to the lesser-known culinary wonders that India has to offer. Get ready to uncover the hidden flavors and savor the essence of these unique and lesser-known Indian cuisines, for it is in these hidden gems that the true soul of India's culinary diversity resides.
Hidden Treasures of Lesser-Known Indian Cuisines
India is a large assemblage of various cultures, traditions, and food. While we are all familiar with the well-known South Indian and North Indian cuisines, there are several additional delicacies that are hidden gems of India's smaller regions. It's time to venture outside of your comfort zone when it comes to food and discover these lesser-known Indian cuisines.
- Malenadu Cuisine
The Sahyadri mountain range's Malnad region includes both the eastern and western slopes of the Western Ghats. 'Male' (rain) and 'Naadu' (region) are the direct translations of the name in the regional tongue. This cuisine is renowned for its culinary expertise and regional specialties, which heavily incorporate fresh local ingredients. This cuisine is quite well renowned for using unique ingredients in its dishes. Examples include bamboo shoots, Ajwain (Indian borage) leaves, Raw Jack fruit, Colocasia leaves, and Brahmi leaves.
- Kathiawadi Cuisine, Gujarat
Southern Gujarat's Kathiawar, in Saurashtra, is the origin of Kathiawadi cuisine. Due to the severe weather, there aren't many leafy vegetables growing there. These elements are reflected in the abundance of potatoes, brinjals, tomatoes, bajri, jaggery, and other items in this dish. This cuisine's recipes are simple to make and incredibly filling. To beat the chill, a lot of green chilies, ghee, and oil are used. The effect is that the dish is fatty and spicy. This cuisine will be ideal for you if you enjoy oily, spicily prepared meals.
- Bodo Cuisine, Assam
The Bodo tribe, an indigenous people in Assam, is known for their food. The cuisine is strongly influenced by the area's agricultural practices and makes use of the wealth of natural resources. Foods prepared with regional ingredients including pig, fish, and silkworm larvae can be found in Bodo cuisine. Popular food includes Zou Bra, a curry prepared from fermented bamboo shoots. It tastes tart and distinct.
Namsing, a dish created with silkworm larvae and frequently served as a side dish, is another noteworthy cuisine. Usually, the larvae are sautéed with herbs and spices to make a tasty dish. The Bodo people produce a native rice beer called oma, which plays a significant role in their culture and celebrations. It is produced with fermented rice and has a rich alcoholic taste.
- Mappila Cuisine, Kerala
The Mappila community in Kerala gave this dish its name, and it is influenced by Dutch, British, Portuguese, and Arab culinary techniques. Is this not unexpected? Red chili, cardamom, and cloves are the three primary flavors in this dish. In addition, curry leaves, ginger, and coconut are widely utilizedflavors. Tamarind and, in rare situations, green mango are widely employed as souring agents. The Tellicherry Biryani, which is prepared in the traditional dum manner, is recommended if you enjoy Mughlai cuisine.
- Kumaoni Cuisine, Uttarakhand
The basic and wholesome Kumaoni cuisine, which has its roots in the Uttarakhandi highlands, features straightforward and earthy flavors that go well with the Himalayan climate. Most of the ingredients used in these dishes are widely available and locally manufactured. Kumaoni cuisine includes Bhatt ki Churkani (Bhatt is a locally produced black soybean). For meat enthusiasts, the boneless Kachhmauli (whole goat) prepared in mustard oil, spiced with turmeric and chili, then grilled on a spit is a must-try.
- Malvani Cuisine, Maharashtra
Many delicious, spicy prepared specialties that are hard to get elsewhere are featured in this cuisine. Malvani cuisine combines elements of Goan and Maharashtrian cuisine and uses a unique cooking method. It stands out for using a lot of coconut, whether it be grated, dried, or milk, as well as other spices, herbs, and hot peppers. Malvani cuisine has a good selection of vegetarian options, but its non-vegetarian specialties, such Kombdi Vade, Jhinga Fry, and Paplet Saar (Malvani fish curry with pomfret), are what it is best known for.
- Garhwali Cuisine, Uttarakhand
The Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, noted for its beautiful mountains and abundance of natural resources, is where Garhwali cuisine originates. The food is simple but flavorful, and it frequently uses ingredients that are easy to get nearby. In Garhwali cuisine, millets and lentils are common ingredients in recipes like Chainsoo (black gramme dal curry) and Jhangora Ki Kheer (millet pudding). Another specialty is Bhatt Ki Churkani (curry made from black soybeans).
Many leafy greens, including spinach, fenugreek, and nettle, are utilized in Garhwali cuisine in recipes like Kafuli (spinach curry) and Thechwani (a fiery potato and garlic dish).Garhwali cuisine relies heavily on locally available dairy products, such as ghee (clarified butter) and curd, which give the food a richer flavor. Mandua (finger millet) chapatis are a typical accompanying bread.
- Kodavu Cuisine, Karnataka
The Kodagu (Coorg) region of Karnataka, famous for its beautiful vegetation and coffee plantations, is where Kodava cuisine first emerged. The food is distinguished by its strong, fragrant flavors and utilizes regional spices and ingredients. Common ingredients used to improve the flavor of foods include coorg pepper, cardamom, and kachampuli (a souring agent derived from the fruit of the Garcinia gummi-gutta tree).
In Kodava cuisine, pork is a common meat, and dishes like Pandi Curry (pork curry) are well-liked. The rice dumplings Kadambuttu, the rice noodles NoolPuttu, and the chicken curry, Koli Curry are additional noteworthy foods.Additionally, the cuisine includes inventive dishes such Kumm Curry (mushroom curry), bamboo shoot curry, sweets like Kaveri and BaalekaiPodi (banana fritters).
Lesser-Known Indian Dishes
Everyone is aware of the classic North Indian and South Indian cuisines and some famous dishes from different states of the country. But there are some dishes from different states that don’t come to the limelight but still are delectable to devour. Here are some of the unique and lesser-known Indian dishes:
- Awan Bangwi - It is a traditional Tripuran rice cake made from guria rice, commonly referred to as sticky rice, cashews, raisins, and ghee. This rice mixture is steam-cooked in a unique kind of leaf called a lairu. However, a lot of people also steam cook this dish using banana leaves because it's more convenient.
- Paddu - It is one of the well-liked breakfast alternatives offered in southern India and is also known as Guliappa or Paniyaram. Leftover dosa/idli batter is combined with some onion, green chilies, and coriander leaves to make this dish. Batter is formed into balls, which are cooked and eaten with coconut chutney.
- Siddu - This sort of toasted stuffed bread is one of the most well-known dishes from Himachal Pradesh and is typically served with dal and coriander chutney. This wheat-flour bread has paneer, walnuts, peanuts, and green peas inside of it which is then steamed and cut into pieces before serving.
- GojjuAvalakki - It is a well-known breakfast item from Karnataka and is made using poha powder. Though it is made of jaggery, pulses, and groundnuts, don't think of it as the same old poha. Instead, taste its sweet, sour, spicy, andacidic flavors.
- Mande/Mandige - This well-known meal was traditionally made for important events and holidays in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. It is made of wheat flour, powdered sugar, grated coconut, and cardamom powder, but is still widely consumed today. This dish tastes amazing and has a taco-like appearance.
- Bidiya - The distinctive flavor and earthiness of this sweet delicacy from the state of Chhattisgarh distinguish it from other similar meals. Making a dough out of wheat flour and rice water, which is then formed into rectangles and then deep-fried, is how this meal is prepared. These rectangle-shaped pieces are then given another sugar syrup soaked for a rich taste.
- Achappam - This delicacy, often referred to as rose cookies, is a traditional Tamil Nadu snack consumed on holidays like Christmas. These perfectly fried cookies are created from rice flour, eggs, coconut milk, sesame seeds, sugar, and salt and are then shaped in a flower shaped cutter.
- Gushtaba - Gushtaba, a traditional Kashmiri meal, is the final meat course eaten at a Wazwan feast before moving on to desserts. Tender mutton meatballs are cooked in a flavorful sauce made with yoghurt to make this dish.
- GolichinaMamsam - It is a fiery Telangana mutton dish that is typically eaten with chapati and dosa. The mutton is simmered for hours over a low flame in a thick, spicy sauce, which gives it a luscious flavor.
- Khorisa Maas - Khorisa Maas, a typical Assamese meal cooked with fish and bamboo shoots, goes best with steaming rice. Fish pieces are first fried in mustard oil with seasonings before being cooked with fermented bamboo shoots.
- LyodurTschaman - Even though to you the name of this dish seems like foreign, it is a well-known Kashmiri dish. This meal contains paneer, contrary to widespread perception that Kashmiris consume mutton and chicken. The paneer in this recipe is cooked in a rich, creamy sauce that contains a significant amount of turmeric.
Bizarre Dishes in Indian Cuisine
If you are passionate about food and is willing to try on some new dishes and cuisines, then India has a plethora of some of the most bizarre dishes one can get. Being a regionally and culturally diversified country, Indian dishes come with a variety of taste, aroma, texture, and in some cases, weird ingredients, and recipes. Here is a list of some unusual dishes in India that are very popular in their distinctive regions and communities, that one must try.
- PatalBageri of Bihar
Dare yourself to try a taste of PatalBageri to unleash the intrepid foodie in you. Primarily a rat meal by Musahars—the traditional rat-eating community of Bihar—is rather an odd Indian culinary combo, but it is wildly popular in the region; in fact, rat meat was the subject of a trial project that was started a few years ago to increase its popularity. As PatalBageri is prominently featured on the menu, you can sample it at any restaurant in Bihar. A delicious treat that is given in several forms, such as roasted rat and rat curry.
- Onion Halwa
Halwa's scent makes it difficult to refuse. And what if you had the chance to indulge in a special onion halwa that was just as delicious as your preferred variety? Unimaginable, made by cooking onions in ghee and combining its goodness with milk and sugar. This halwa, which is vividly colored, is delicious. Even though onions are used to make this wonderful halwa, you wouldn't know it because the onion's distinctive aroma fades during the lengthy cooking process.
- Chaprah/Chapdahof Chhattisgarh
Can you picture a hot sauce produced from stinging and biting ants? All large feasts hosted by the Bastar tribes in Chhattisgarh must include this peculiar Indian cuisine. It is essentially a strong chutney produced from red ants and their eggs that is greatly enjoyed in Chhattisgarh for both its flavors and medicinal benefits. You may have tried several chutneys, but nothing compares to Chaprah's explosive hotness. Try it if you dare!
- Benami Kheerb of Rajasthan
It was none other than the Benami Kheer, a dessert that was adored by the Royal families throughout the Mughal era. Although the dish's main ingredient was kept a secret, the name makes it impossible for you to guess what it is. For those who are unfamiliar with this delicacy, this kheer is made of lehsun, or garlic.
- Bhang Pakora in Rajasthan
Tempting pakoras served with mint chutney are piping hot, right? Try this strange variation on pakoras, which have long been a staple of food offerings at religious occasions. The cannabis leaves used to make these pakoras have both therapeutic and intoxicating effects, making them especially popular during the Shivratri and Holi celebrations. This unique Holi concoction from Rajasthan is used recreationally to produce a euphoric high. So don't pass up getting drunk while eating these pakoras!
- Frog Legs in Goa
Many foreign businesses have had a long history in India, and many have left enduring legacies like the unique delicacy of frog legs. The battered and fried frog legs are primarily offered in eateries in Sikkim and Goa, and they are quite the treat for food adventurers. The dish is regarded to have significant therapeutic value in addition to having outstanding taste. It is consumed by the Lepcha community in Sikkim to treat dysentery and other gastrointestinal illnesses. If you feel a croaking alarm in your stomach, try it out!
- Eri Polu of Assam
Can you picture having silkworms on your plate as the best delicacy? If you try it once, it's one of Assam's unusual meals that will make your mouth start to wet right away. Khorisa, which is fermented bamboo shoots, is served with silkworm pupae that have been flavored with herbs and spices. Eri Polu, one of the distinctive Indian foods, is a beloved specialty in Assam. The various silkworm larvae and pupae are thought to be highly wholesome and delicious when eaten fried, roasted, or uncooked.
- Phan Pyut of Northeast
This unique Indian meal ought to be on your wish list if you enjoy potatoes. This cuisine, which consists of decaying potatoes, is a mainstay of the diet for those in Northeast India. The potatoes used to make this cherished dish are ones that have been allowed to rot in the soil for days. Then, these spoiled potatoes are spiced up and served as a delicacy.
Our journey through the unique and lesser-known cuisines of India has revealed a world of flavors and culinary treasures waiting to be explored. From using bold spices to fragrant herbs, some common and some not so common ingredients, these hidden gems showcase the diverse culinary heritage of the country. Beyond the popular dishes lies a tapestry of regional nuances, traditions, and history that add depth and richness to India's culinary landscape. By embracing these lesser-known cuisines and dishes, we celebrate the vibrant diversity and cultural treasures that make Indian cuisine truly extraordinary.