Don’t be startled if I say India can be one of the gourmet destination in the world, its rich and varied cuisines is spectacularly diverse and ironically enough it is highly unpopular because of its unsafe and unhygienic food standards. Contrary to western standards, food in India is mostly prepared fresh, and since frequent power cuts are a major issue even in metro cities, so refrigeration suffers and that attributes to the poor and stale quality of meats and other food items.
But due to its spectacular cultural diversity India has lots to offer for every palate, you will never go unsatisfied with its rich and varied food that in a nutshell summarizes the spirit of India.
But at the same time it is highly important to stay healthy during your vacations, no body wants to stay in hospital beds in a foreign country ! So here we present in short India’s Airlines food as well as short street food survival guidelines.
A) Airlines food scenario : The first taste of Indian food will be in flight itself if you prefers to travel in Air India, India’s national carrier. Warm food, vegetarian food options, snacks and more importantly you will be able to seriously reduce the total flying hours as Air India mostly operates direct flights from most of the destinations in the world. If you travel in first class then get ready to be pampered at the Maharaja lounge at Delhi or Mumbai plus lots of freebies to share with, like packets of dry fruits etc.
Recently many customers complain about the shortage of food on board in Air India, which has seriously hit Air India’s already failing business and to revive the things and to woo the customers Air India has introduced some new on board menu both in its domestic and international sectors. Air India now also offers meals on health grounds, religious, diabetic, low fat, high fibre, lactose free, low sodium diet, etc. On religious grounds, MOML (Muslim meal) Kosher Meal, JNML (Jain meal) are uplifted on sectors with specific demand for such meals.
While travelling with in India you can trust any of its low-cost carriers like Spicejet, no frills, on time and low ticket cost adds up to their popularity and good connectivity between metro and tier II cities. Most of these low-cost carriers doesn’t provide on board meals but Spicejet has revamped its on board food menu in reasonable prices, clubbed with attractive deals and free cookies and bottled water to every passenger.
Indian airlines are always booked to its capacity so it is advisable to book the flight tickets well in advance to avoid rush hours, and you can enjoy the best rates on flight tickets too.
B) Dining in India : Dining in India would be quiet challenging if you have no clue about it, so best to do some research before hand, read the well trusted food and dining guides published by leading national and international dailies, before zeroing upon a destination and you will be in safe hands.
However some of the basic guidelines that can be listed are :
1) Most of the Indian restaurants serves good quality food, but before venturing into one, do your homework well, see where locals prefers to eat. Is the restaurant clean enough ? And however that chutney looks appetizing to you never try to taste it, because you do not for how long has it been sitting there for?
2) Use your common sense, be a picky eater and if you have any doubt about the food, then best is to leave the food and walk away from the restaurant.
3) Wash your hands with soap before every meals and trust your hand more than the cutleries given in the restaurant.
4) Spend some money and get pampered yourself in some of the India’s finest dining restaurants like Bukhara in Delhi, restaurants under Taj hotels, ITC hotels, Hyatt and Oberoi. They are all 5 star in accordance with western dining etiquette and perhaps the best when it comes to Indian dining scenario.
5) Drink plenty of water, dehydration is a very acute case in India and drink from the bottled water only (packaged drinking water), or mineral water that are readily available in every nook and corner of the city but before buying it look closely for the seal. In doubt go for only the branded bottled waters.
6) Street foods are best in its league if you ask me, being myself a street food addict or connoisseur, and as a golden rule of thumb I never had meat and non veg dishes from the street food counters. So does it means then that I never had famous Kolkata kati rolls that is available only on its streets? Strange enough but yes I do have my shares of Kolkata (Calcutta) Kati rolls but only from a trusted source like Nizams or Bedoiun.
Here I list some of the basic guidelines to enjoy India’s street foods :
a) Always eat from those stall which are in good locality of the city (yes that matters) and where you will see the evening crowds flocking around it, school kids, office goers, housewives all will have their share of evening snacks / chatpatas.
b) Anything which is deep-fried in hot oil, right in front of you is good, but do not pay too much attention to the oil itself (don’t ask me why !)
c) Vegetarian foods that are hot and completely cooked are good, healthy and nutritious too so aloo tikki, ragda patties, pav bhaji, dosa, idli, chole bature etc you can trust and enjoy with full flavour.
d) India is country of chaats, you name it and they have it, samosa chaat, bhel puri chaat, sev batata chaat, dahi papdi chaat, and the list goes on, and you will be tempted to it how hard you try to suppress your temptation, enjoy the chaat but do not trust the green chutney in it.
e) Specially to those travellers who are foreign to India never ever eat the golgappes or phuchka or pani puri all points to the same dish.
f) India’s colorful image is not just in its culture and costumes but on the street too where you will find all the colorful bottles stacked prettily in summer, and in scorching sun, like a child’s curiosity you will be drawn to it, locals call it gola, (crushed ice and dipped in colorful sugar water) a speciality of Juhu chowpattys, and every time I goes there I picked my favourite one - kala khatta (made from a dark, Indian blackberry with dash of lime and rock salt) but I will never suggest it to you.
In every case stay away from it.
g)At some point of your travel you will be forced to eat in dhaba style eateries, try safely the tandoori roti and chole (chickpeas) but not the meat dish.
h) If spice is not your cup of tea then ask for less spicy foods but never ask for extra spicy, even if you love spicy things heat will be too much for you to handle.
These are some of the guidelines and it is equally hard to summarize everything about dining in India as the rules and guidelines varies from cities to cities but in general it will give you some insights into the food and dining in India. If you wish to share more info about it with our readers, do write to us. We would love to hear more from you.
Have a lovely holidays