Because there’s no emotion greater than the love of food is perhaps the only reason we need to rejoice in the tremendous diversity that India encompasses, in culture and tradition and of course in cuisine. Here’s the list of the most delicious food of each of the 29 states of India that will have you drooling all over-
Among all the 29 states of India that boast of their own unique food and cuisine, the north eastern state of Assam is a gastronomic delight diversified. Rice sure is the staple commodity that makes up the main meal but the accompaniments to the paddy are foods so diversely interpreted and uniquely prepared that nowhere in the world would you get a dish that tastes anywhere close to the most ethnic of Assamese foods.
The two things that most characterise a simple and authentic Assamese meal are khaar and tenga. Khaar is an alkaline preparation tasting unlike what you would have ever eaten before and needs to be devoured for you to understand the flavour of this really one of a kind dish. The dish is so versatile that you can prepare it from as widespread a range of ingredients as possible. 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.
So if there is khar on one hand there’s the tangy fish curry on the other that is as soothing and comforting a accompaniment to a plate of good old rice. Whether you make the tenga out of elephant apple or some leafy greens or tamarind or even with some lemon juice or a wide range of locally available berries, the sour serving is all the respite you need on a scorching hot day.
There sure are other Assamese foods that are equally unique in their every ingredient and in the preparation. Be it a wide variety of healthy pithas (rice cakes) or a delightful array of jolpans, a serving of meats that isn’t just chicken and an assortment of fishes that goes way beyond the hilsa and the rohu, Assamese food will have you spoilt for choice. There’s some flavour peculiarly Assamese to cater to your every craving and every taste, whipped up with minimal ingredients and served so simplistically that you can go on eating and eating even when you think you can eat no more!
For Madhya Pradesh the most instantly recognisable dish would be the poha- jalebi combo relished throughout Indore and Bhopal. Rajasthani influences are evident in many foods that rule the roost in Madhya Pradesh- while daal baafla is a close cousin of the Rajasthani daal baati churma, mawa bati is also a sweet that emerges from either of the Indian regions. Bhutte ka kees is one rather offbeat and popular dish of Madhya Pradesh while the namesake Bhopali gosht korma as well as the Indori palak puri are really specialised delicacies from this central Indian region.
A green leafy veggie preparation called kafuli is peraps one of the most well known foods of Uttarakhand while the dessert scene of the state is dominated by the very unique looking fudge like sweet bal mithai.
Litti chokha is the most recognised food of Bihar that is definitely a unique preparation while thekuas and malpuas and khurmas and khajas sum up best the sweet food offerings of this region among the 29 states of India.
You may also like: 29 states of India and their dresses which are simply stunning
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir might have ceased to be a state recently but there wasn’t any way we would be excluding it from our list of the 29 states of India when it comes to food. In its cold climes all year round, it is indeed understandable why Kashmiri people are voracious meat eaters. The food of the region is also quite rich incorporating diverse spices to help the body resist the cold of the mountainous expanse. Naturally the most iconic food from this Indian region has to be a meat based dish and it is the rogan josh which claims distinctive fame. A deep red color curry, that is fiery in the very look of it, the rogan josh is essentially a red meat based preparation cooked in ample spice that lend it its characteristic flavor and aroma. Slow cooked with meticulous attention to detail, the rogan josh is very much a Kashmiri staple and a signature dish of the cuisine of Kashmir.
The colder confines of Kashmir also means that the people there are regular drinkers of warm beverages that help the body retain its alertness and natural heat. One such much preferred and very distinctive Kashmiri specialty is the Kashmiri chai or Noon chai. This special pink chai of Kashmir is a rather interesting variety of tea that is particularly appealing. A terrific comfort in the harsh weather of the region, the signature blend of tea includes a mix of pistachios, almonds, salt, milk, and spices and is a real treat for the senses.
The southern states of India are such a delightful blend of harmony in variety that it’s difficult to pick out any one most loved food from its diametrically inclusive platter. Kerala is no any different in the diversity which means the cuisine of this region spans the simplest of meals and the fanciest of preparations with ease and regularity. So while on one hand we have the Sadhya feast that is a very humble and nutritious all vegetarian affair, on the other we have Kerala’s identity as a coastal state make it a hub of sea food and also numerous meaty dishes. Beef Ularthiyathu is a rather favorite of most people of the state while the Konju Varutharaccha or prawn curry occupies an equal place of delight in gastronomic indulgences. And there of course are the many appams and uttapams that can never escape any discussion of food of the southernmost of the 29 states of India.
The traditional cuisine of Andhra Pradesh is characterised by spicy and tangy foods but it is Hyderabad, the acting capital of the state that claims the utmost fame by virtue of its most iconic offering. Biryani- Hyderabadi biryani in particular- is the defining food of the city that also earned it the title of the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy this year. Though there are multiple origins and also multiple types of biryani, it is indeed Andhra Pradesh and its once component city of Hyderabad that commands unparalleled adulation when it comes to this much loved dish. Rasams, idlis and dosas also are important food components of Andhra Pradesh as in many of the other southern regions of India.
Rich and earthy- the food of Haryana is very authentically elaborate and distinctive to this date. Predominantly vegetarian and rich enough to be filling and intensely nutritious, Haryanvi food is all about rustic elements and ingredients spanned into healthy and elaborate dishes that are simple in essence yet extremely rich to the taste. The Land of Rotis, you will find a wide variety of the Indian flatbread in this northern state. Even one of the most preferred sweets of Haryana, the Haryanvi Churma is a roti based sweet! Kachri Ki Sabzi and Hara Dhania Cholia as well as Kadhi Pakora are some other popular foods of the state that serve as the ultimate comfort food.
Like its other southern counterparts, the Indian state of Tamil Nadu also boasts of a cuisine that boasts of the simplest of preparations as well as more extravagant dishes. A full course vegetarian meal called the Sappadu is the customary feast while pongal is a sweet rice preparation that claims prominence both as a standalone or ritualistic dish or as one of the items of the feast. Chicken Chettinad is one of the more favorite of non vegetarian preparations while standard southern fare like idlis, dosasa, vadas, appams, rasams are also prominent components of the food of this southern region of the 29 states of India.
Gujarati food is more about snacks than it is about meals with the northern Indian state putting up such a sumptuous array of snacks on offer that it is hard to divert from these many splendid offerings and indulge in a full course meal altogether. Be it dhokla or khaman, khandvi, thepla, farsan or khakra, mathiya, chivda dabeli, handvo, fafda jalebi, there is no dearth of snacks for Gujaratis to do up their tea times with or even otherwise. Not just snacks, Gujarat also has quite some traditional sweets that are popular all over- be it the mohanthal or the doodhpak or basundi, there is no dearth of sugary delight in the very rich Indian state. Even with regard to food outside snacks and sweets the Gujarati kadhi, undhiyu and the non veg dish Murghanu Shaak will more than delight you with their characteristic flavour and distinctive identity.
Among the north eastern states of the 29 states India, Arunachal Pradesh boasts of a food culture that is more healthy and less fussy. Bamboo shoots occupy an important part of meat preparations in the state, with both chicken and pork and even vegetables cooked in tender bamboo widely relished by people in and outside the state. Even rice preparations vary with varieties like Dung Po and Kholam on offer even as chicken made with rice flour also makes for a different delicacy altogether. A number of fish dishes cooked in different ways also make an integral part of the traditional Arunachali cuisine even as a number of side dishes and chutneys and the local rice beer Apong are other very unique foods that sum up the cuisine of this north east Indian state.
Talk about Maharashtra and the most foodly thing that comes to your mind is the vada pav, exclusively the Mumbai vada pav that is one of the most preferred street snacks in the entire country. Other interesting and equally preferred variations are the misal pav or pav bhaji even as batata vada and thalipeeth are the other popular snacks from this western Indian state. Puran poli is a preferred Maharashtrian sweet bread while sheera and modaks are other pan Indian presences of the Maharashtrian food culture. Non vegetarian enthusiasts have the bombay duck for comfort while usal and varanfal are classic favorites among vegetarian dishes.
The rice bowl of India, there should be no confusion that the state of Chhattisgarh identifies itself as a region that has rice as the staple food. Rice flour based preparations like chila and phara are widely eaten even as rice finds way even in the state’s most recognisable dessert, dehrori. Outside of rice however, there are quite a few preparations that find expression like khurmis or thethaari or one of the most authentic of Chhattisgarhi recipes called the Iddhar. Bore Bassi is another important component of the traditional cuisine that is close in concept to the Assamese concept of panta bhat.
Chhangban is a very popular rice bread from Mizoram while Sanpiau is a wholesome meal that is essentially a rice porridge mixed with meat, sauce and Mizo spices. Steamed veggies and chutneys are very prominent side dishes that make up most of the cuisine of this north eastern state of India.
Momos and thukpas are widely consumed across Sikkim as is sel roti and til chutney that is basically a reflection of the widespread Nepali population across the state. Vegetarian preparations like Gundruk and Sinki are special winter delicacies while dhindo and sha paleys are other ethnic dishes that make up the cuisine of Sikkim.
Punjabi people are all about infectious doses of hale and heartiness and likewise Punjabi food is all about rich decadence and extravagance. After all it’s good food indeed that makes for a good life! Known for their spirited zest for life and their sprightly demeanor, Punjabis encompass the exuberance even in their food. Desi ghee and butter are very integral components that make up Punjabi cuisine. In fact even the simplest of dishes are so done up by generous slathering of makkhan that every Punjabi meal is essentially an extravagant fusion of taste and goodness.
While parathas and butter chicken occupy the public fascination when it come to the food in and of Punjab, there’s still another iconic combination that quintessentially defines the distinctive food of the state. There’s no talking about Punjabi food without the very ubiquitous Makki ki roti- Sarson ka saag combo that instantly conjures up images of the vibrant yellow mustard fields of the state. A dominantly wintery delight, the comforting bitterness of the cooked mustard greens is perfectly balanced by the coarse cornmeal roti that is as healthy a combination as it is delicious. It’s one of those classic dishes whose mention readily brings to you the Punjabi flavour and leaves you craving for platefuls of this simple and exotic yet utterly comforting combo. And of course with a glass of lassi in tow, Punjab knows just the way to your heart through the stomach!
You might associate Goa with booze and feni right way but when it comes to the traditional food of this among the 29 states of India, it is predominantly seafood that rules the roost. Be it the Goan fish curry or its prawn dishes, rice is essentially relished with such preparations even as pork dishes like pork vindaloo also dominate food proceedings in this coastal Indian region. Bebinca and baath cake are the most popular Goan desserts that are not just distinctive but also uniquely delicious.
Smoked pork cooked with fermented soya bean is the state dish of Nagaland even as traditional foods are more or less identical to the other hilly states of the north eastern regions. A rice based preparation called the Galho that also incorporates vegetables and meats is also a distinctive Naga dish as is dry bamboo shoots cooked with pork. Fermented taro leaves called anishi and fermented dry fish are other traditional Naga preparations even as simple dishes of boiled veggies and stews fin dequal importance in the authentic cuisine of the state.
A hilly region, the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh traditionally follows food customs and habits of pahadi cuisine even as it also remains characterised by the prevailing food habits of the other northern Indian regions. Dham is a rice dish based on curd and made with rajma and moong dal and is traditionally served in Himachali weddings. Other widely devoured foods are madra, a yogurt based curry of chickpeas as well as tudkiya bhath, the Himachali interpretation of the pulao. Even the sweet dishes are diametrically different from the many other Indian sweets– while aktori is a pancake made of buckwheat flour, meethi bhat or mittha is the Himachali way to cleanse your palate with some sweetened rice preparation.
An erstwhile part of the Indian state of Bihar, Jharkhand’s food array is one that is almost similar to Bihari cuisine. With ample influences of the tribal population seeping in, the food of this among the 29 states of India is however also not without an identity of its own. Dhuskas are deep fried snacks made of rice and lentil batter while rugra is a mushroom based sabzi often served with rice or poori. Bihari delicacies like litti chokha and thekua also are very commonly eaten food items in this eastern Indian state. While dudhauri is another lesser known tradition sweet of Jharkhand, it is indeed the forever Indian favorite sweet Kalakand that is perhaps Jharkhand’s most known yet least attributed food offering.
The most popular food dish of Meghalaya is Jadoh which is red rice cooked with spices and with pork or some other meat including fish. Another all encompassing food preparation from this north eastern state of India goes by the name Tungrymbai and is essentially a dish made of fermented soya beans, boiled and chopped pork, black sesame, ginger, onion and other spices. Tungtap is a common side dish made of dry fish that is served with jadoh. Sweet preparations in Meghalaya are also offbeat as is evident in dishes like pukhlein and sakin gata while the fermented rice beer kyat is the local drink of the state.
Chak-hao or black rice kheer perhaps is the most irresistible of all foods offered by the north eastern state of Manipur that involves cooking black rice in milk and sugar to serve up a rich serving of sweetness that tastes sinfully divine. Anoher ethnic Manipuro dish is Eromba, a fermented fish preparation while kangshoi is a soupy stew widely relished by Manipuri people. Other fish based dishes include the classic fish curry Nga-Thongba and nganam even as vegetarian preparations like singju and paaknam are equally popular food offered by this among the 29 states of India.
Be it dal baati churma or Bajre ki roti and Lashun ki chutney, laal maas or safed maas, mirchi baja or pyaz kachori, gatte ki sabji or ker sangri, mawa kachori or dil kushal, ghevar or chenna malpua, every strand of traditional Rajasthani cuisine is so unique and encompassing that it’s hard to pick up any specific dish as the sole identifier of its rich and diverse food choices.
Less spicy yet intensely flavorful, Odia food is a different world of gastronomic discovery altogether. Macha ghanta and chungdi malai are fish based preparations, besala and santula are veggie delights while chenna poda and chenna jhili are extremely popular sweets from this eastern state of India.
Mui borok is the traditional cuisine of Tripura that remains dominated by a dry fish chutney called berma. The typically oil less preparations are characterised also by the use of bamboo shoots and a wide range of exotic veggies even as pork and chicken, fish and even turtle make up the non vegetarian fare of the state. A local fermented rice beer called the chauk is also widely relished by the people of this north eastern region of the country.
Petha and peda are two exceedingly popular sweet foods of Uttar Pradesh while batti chokha, bhindi ka salaan and chaat are some of the most popular food from this region among the 29 states of India.
Biryani of course is the most popular dish across all of Telangana as is haleem and lip smacking desserts like qubani ka meetha as well as double ka meetha.
Food in West Bengal is a lavish, extravagant affair that encompasses an array of preparations both veg and non veg, snacks and main dishes, sweets and munchies. Fish is most prominent among non veg with dried fish preparations like shutki and other delicacies like maaser kaalia, ilish maccher muitha dominating the palate. Meats are also gorged upon even as a wide range of vegetarian fare are equally in contention to outdo one another in taste and flavour. Bengal is also particularly well know for its sweets from the rasgulla to the mishti doi, from sandesh to payesh- each dish is uniquely delectable and brings forth a rich fusion of taste and decadence.
Mysore pak is the most famous sweet dish from the Indian state of Karnataka, the staple cuisine of which is dominated by standard southern fare like idlis, dosas, uttapams, vadas etc even as bisi bele bath is a unique food offering from this region.