A Study of Food in India: Flatbread, Meat, Tandoori, Vegetables and the Thali

This post comes from the archives: I actually wrote this during Carrie and my 3.5 months in India but never published it. So now, without further adieu, I present my study of the yummy foods I ate during the first few months of that adventure.

The best thali ever at the Rasta Cafe in Hampi
The best thali ever at the Rasta Cafe in Hampi

The majority of the food we encounter in India is vegetarian, delicious and spicy. In nicer restaurants, it is traditional to order a rice or two and then some form of veg dish: lentils, chick peas, potatoes and other beans are quite popular. Then you order either a roti (row-tee), chapati (cha-pah-tee), naan (non), parotta (par-oh-ta) or paratha (par-ah-thuh), all of which are essentially tortillas with varying degrees and thicknesses of dough and different methods of preparing. Finally, when it is all on the table you tear off some bread and, using only your right hand, create a mix of food and shovel it into your mouth. There’s something extremely satisfying about eating with your hands.

We got all this food plus 2 water bottles for 90rs in Pounducherry
We got all this food plus 2 water bottles for 90rs (less than $2) in Pounducherry

Our favorite plate of food is the Thali, which is usually a big platter with 2-3 veggie dishes, some curd, a pile of rice, sometimes a bit of fruit and some chapatis (always chapati, as they are the cheapest and thinnest). This entire plate of food is very filling, delicious and usually costs around $1. Often times you will get free refills on whatever you want as long as you keep buying chapatis.

Tandoori dishes are also quite popular, though generally far more expensive so we tend to steer clear of the restaurants serving this Indian food. We do branch out often and try the local dishes, but there are far too many of them to list. My personal favorite was the Mongolian chicken.

Beef is just as hard to find as you would imagine it would be in a country where the cow is sacred. Mutton, lamb and chicken, however, are very common and quite good. So don’t wait any longer … go to India and chow down!

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