Irrespective of how every mention of Indian food digs up images of samosas or has the aroma of biryani wafting in the air, it’s a truth undeniable that the culinary composition of the country goes way beyond just the typical fare. Call them unique or exotic, rare or distinctive, lesser known or lesser heard of, Indian cuisine remains replete with a wide variety of really delectable discoveries. Read on to dig deep into 10 such lesser known dishes of India for the sake of your die hard foodie soul-
While benami indeed means without name, think of the irony of a kheer being named benami! And that’s not just the only mind boggling fact about this sweet dish that is less heard of and perhaps even lesser partaken of. A really, really unique dish that trace its origin to the Mughal presence in the country, you can never imagine what this particular type of kheer is made of unless we explicitly tell you. Benami kheer is made of garlic- of all things in the world, to come up with a sweet preparation with not just hints but ample loads of garlic is not just perplexing but nauseatic as well, at least to the ears!
There’s hardly any discussion about Rajasthani cuisine that does not include the mention of its very authentic and traditional preparation of dal- bati- choorma. But come Madhya Pradesh and an almost similar preparation does not get to enjoy as much of the limelight. Comparatively lesser heard about, the dal bafla however indeed is a cousin of its more prominently assertive counterpart.
With similar methods of preparation and use of the same ingredients and even devoured with the classic dal dish, both bafla and bati could have been synonymous. The only difference however manifests in the bafla being a slightly more labor intensive preparation than the bati. While batis are made of dough that are then baked, the baflas are first boiled in salt and turmeric water before they are put for baking. Needless to say, the additional step goes a long way into ensuring that the baflas generally tend to be softer to bite into than the batis.
Hailing from no any region in particular yet quite common in many regions and still lesser heard of- Pyaaz Halwa makes no attempt at concealing what it holds in store for foodies out there. Onions, white onions to be specific, go into the making of this halwa that obviously has milk and sugar doing up the really pungent base. Grated onions are caramelised before they are allowed to cook in milk, delivering thereby a dish that is surprisingly unique and scrumptious.
One of the most unique foods that you would ever encounter in India has to be the predominantly Assamese preparation of Khar. Unique in not just the dish but also in the main ingredient itself- both of which identify as khar, this is one name that tastes unlike anything else you would have ever dug into. In essence, khar is an alkaline preparation that is extracted by burning dried banana peels and then incorporated in a variety of veg and even non veg preparations.
You can have a khaar dish made of lentils or veggies or fishes and even pork or you can combine lentils and veggies- both exotic and commonplace- to churn up a dish that is so simple to make that you can’t fathom how on earth it can taste so divine. There’s even a way to have your dose of khaar without even cooking it- some kola khar and salt is all you need to whip up a bowlful of panta bhat for a meal that is definitely filling- for the tummy as well as for your soul.
Speaking of Assam and not about pithas– that’s not something you could do in this country. Ubiquitous to the north eastern state and also to West Bengal while stemming also in the local cuisines of some other parts of the country, pithas are almost always rice flour based sweet preparations though sometimes there can be variations as well. But there is a specific kind of the clan that diverts way beyond even the variations to emerge as a distinctive type in its own crunchy right.
We are talking about the Kakara Pitha that is native to the state of Odisha. Traditionally made with sweetened semolina that is made into a dough and stuffed with grated coconut and then deep fried, the kakaras are distinctive in their rawa essence instead of a flour one. Lesser heard of but for sure not any lesser indulgent, kakara pithas are a delicious accompaniment to your evening tea if you do not fancy rice enough!
Bhutte ki Kees
Only a very few things on the face of the earth can match up to the euphoria and romance of enjoying a bhutta on a rainy evening or on wintry nights. Think about then of a dish that integrates this distinctive appeal of the humble but forever loved bhutta with a much appetising sweet and salty taste. Another star dish from Madhya Pradesh that however remains relatively lesser known yet, bhutte ki kees happens to be a grated corn dish cooked in the offbeat combination of spices and milk. Dry in texture and chaat like in essence, this addictive snacking delight sure deserves more limelight than what it commands at the moment.
While there is a lot about Goa that has managed to receive global adulation, there also exist as much aspects of the Indian state that remains shrouded in relatively lesser fanfare. One such not just less known but also really unique of Goan dishes happens to be the Sorpotel that is not anything you would expect from your plate. Of Portuguese origin which means it is not exclusive to Goa alone, Sorpotel however remains a lesser dug into offering, either because of its relative dwelling in obscurity or because of its not very appealing charateristic for fussy eaters. Made of pork offal, that us in essence the viscera and entrails of the butchered pig, sorpotel preparations however can vary from region to region making its encounter an even more distinctive culinary experience worth relishing.
From the hilly terrains of Himachal Pradesh emerges a diversified preparation that is not just unique but also healthy. Locally called bhey, the dish is made with boiled and sliced lotus stems that are fried with spices and besan and makes for a really interesting snack. It’s surprising that even with such an interesting mix of exotic ingredients and spices, bhey remains predominantly popular only in the northern regions of the country.
Another unique Assamese manifestation is a preparation that goes by the name khorisa. Like khar, khorisa also refers to both the ingredient as well as the dish. Essentially grated young bamboo shoots in raw, fermented or pickled form, khorisa preparations involving pork, chicken and even fish are some of the most unique dishes your food buds will ever encounter. An ethnic hit among the locals, khorisa is bound to be a sure shot winner with whosoever is fortunate enough to get their tongue on it.
Bhang Ki Chutney
Lord Shiva’s forever indulgence bhang also accounts for a preparation that makes itself count as a lesser known food of the country. While smoking and sipping bhang is normal and even biting into some form of it is very natural, hardly could we think that there would be something about bhang that makes it equally versatile to do up with some rice! Yes indeed, with bhang chutney on the menu, your same old routine lunch will get all the intoxicated punch you always expected out of every morsel! Lip smacking and offbeat- all you need is some bhang to sort your foodie self out!