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India on a Plate

We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Indian Independence Day than with a magical display of diversity of our beautiful country – obviously through the food route. Here is a little glimpse of our rich culinary culture spread across 28 states – one dish at a time. It’s worth a celebration – take a look.


Andhra Pradesh – Gongura

If you like your food to be fiery, spicy and hot – you are going to find home in the fabulous world of Andhra cuisine. One exclusively Andhra ingredient that you should try is gongura or sorrel. These super nutritious, tangy, tiny leaves are used to make spicy chutneys, curries and rice dishes. Try this Gongura chicken curry recipe that marries flavours of the tangy gongura leaves and fiery Andhra chillies in the most perfect way.


Arunachal Pradesh– pikapila (bamboo shoot in every avatar)

The beauty of the food from Arunachal Pradesh lies in the fact that the dishes and recipes are still authentic and traditional – unaffected by the fusion food frenzy in the rest of the world. Bamboo shoot is grown all across the North East and there is no dearth of Arunachali recipes that use this beloved ingredient. One that you MUST try is pork or vegetable bamboo shoot stir fry and the - Pikapila, an Arunachali pickle made with bamboo shoots, fat (usually pork) and spicy king chillies.


Assam – Masortenga

Masor Tenga, just the name of this will make every Assaamese’ facelight up. Yours will too, after you taste the deliciousness of this classic Assamese tangy fish curry. Fresh water fish like katla or rohu are cooked in a spicy, tangy broth made with lemon, tomatoes and elephant apple. Served hot with boiled rice and some aloopitika - this Assamese comfort food is the perfect meal any time of the year.


Bihar– sattu sherbet

Sattu is essentially a coarse flour made by grinding dry roasted black Bengal gram or kale chane. Litti, one half of the Bihari staple combination of litti-chokha is made using this flour. Besides the roti’s and laddoos a cooling beverage made by dissolving sattukaatta in water or buttermilk and added flavourings in the form of jaggery or a mix of salt and cumin powder are must have during the extremely hot summers in Bihar.


Chhattisgarh – Khurmi

The relatively new state of Chhattisgarh has a bunch of tasty dishes that you should try and the sweet dish khurmi is on the top of the charts. The deep fried dumplings made with wheat flour and jaggery are a monsoon must have in this part of the country. The addition of coconut and cardamom powder, give it enough flavor to make these sweet treats your brand new addiction.


Goa – prawn pickle

Seafood lovers are in for a treat with this spicy vinegar based prawn pickle that just keeps getting better with time. Pungent and tangy, it makes you reminiscence of the sea in each bite – serve it up with a big mound of boiled rice and yogurt or good old prawn curry. You can always trust the Goans to do things in style can’t you?


Gujarat – Paunk

This winter specialty from Gujarat is nothing but young tender jowar or shorgum grains separated from their stalks much before the crop is ready for harvesting. The stalks are roasted over charcoal and then beaten till the grains fall off the soft shell. These tender jade coloured kernels burst between your teeth with their subtle sweet flavour when eaten fresh, but are mostly accompanied with spicy pepper, garlic or lemon sev. Paunk as an ingredient has plenty of heat and is followed up with glasses of thin chaas to counter its warming effect it has on your body!


Haryana – kachri ki sabzi and alsi ki pinni
Haryanvi food is like its people – robust and unique. The kachri ki sabzi is a simple sabzi but made with an exclusive ingredient – kachri, which is a yellow melon found in this part of the country. You can also make a chutney with this melon and eat it with some delicious whole wheat rotis. The Haryanvis also do a delicious twist on a pinni by adding flax seeds to it, another classic you should eat, especially if you have a sweet tooth.


Himachal Pradesh – Madra

If you ever manage to distract yourself from the scenic beauty of this Indian state, then turn your attention to the cuisine, which is just as good. Madra, is the Himachali version of chole, but fresher and lighter. Yogurt and mild spices gives it a slightly pale hue but plenty of flavour. Trying a dhaam or Himachali thali is a great way to sample all the awesome dishes this land has to offer.


Jammu & Kashmir – Ver

For the gourmet, Kashmir evokes the exotic fragrance of saffron, steaming hot cups of ‘kahwa’ and robust meat dishes. A spice mix called ver, is the Kashmiri version of garam masala and is what adds that magic to Kashmiri food. Garlic, pran (a Kashmiri onion) and a bunch of aromatic spices like dried ginger, turmeric, asafetida, and red chillies are ground, shaped into a patty or donut and dried on wooden planks. Small amounts of this fragrant spice mix are broken off as needed, crumbled and then sprinkled over many foods to give them that classic Kashmiri flavour.


Jharkhand - dhuska

Its proximity with Bihar means that several of the dishes from both these states share a lot in common and dhuska is one of them. These are deep fried flatbreads made with fermented rice and dal batter. The texture is a combination of soft, chewy and crisp which is perfect when eaten with ghughni – a simple chickpea curry. If you want to save the trouble of having an accompaniment with your dhuska just flavor the dough with some coriander and green chillies


Karnataka – mysorepak

Arguably this is the best sweetmeat of Karnataka. Made with gram flour, sugar and oodles of ghee – Mysore pak can be made in two varieties. A soft one that requires no chewing at all – it just dissolves as it hits your tongue. The other variety is hard and has a porous, crumbly texture - much like ghevar from Rajasthan. The only way you should end a Kannadigga meal is with these delicious treats.


Kerala – Meen Curry / ishtewappam

It won’t be wrong to say that the food in ‘Gods own country’ is anything short of divine. Moments of tranquility in the backwaters are only enhanced with some Malabari food. Karimeen curry is a taste that you will never forget and will make you smile every time you think of it. Then come appam and Ishtew – a Kerala staple of pancakes made with fermented rice and coconut, served with a meat and vegetables cooked in a dreamy coconut stew. Appams are traditionally made in an Appa chatty, but you can try making them in a round bottom kadai, as long as you manage to keep the edges crisp and the center soft and fluffy.


Madhya Pradesh – Bhuttekakees

The street food of Madhya Pradesh is legendary and amongst the fabulous pohas and chaats one thing that stands out is bhuttekakees. This recipe is something that will make you look at corn in a whole new light. Scraped corn is tossed with spices and cooked in milk finished of with peanuts so the final dish is a perfect blend of flavours and textures. Another dish worth trying is the chakki ka shaak – which is a curry made with wheat gluten.


Maharashtra- modaks

Lord Ganesha’s favourite food, modaks are steamed rice flour dumplings with a sweet jaggery and coconut filling that have the slightest fragrance and hint of flavour from cardamom. These make an appearance every Ganesh Chaturti as a humble offering to the god with tons more prepared for modak crazy family and friends. Besides these you have to try pav – which is nothing but a simple bread but Mumbai style – it is eaten with almost everything – vadas, missal, bhaji and bhurji are just a few common examples.


Manipur – chahao kheer ( forbidden rice kheer)

The North Eastern states of India have unparalled natural beauty and an equal vastness when it comes to food ingredients. One such ingredient is the chahao or black rice or forbidden rice. The Manipuri people use this exquisite rice to make everything from porridges to stews to kheer. What makes these dishes really special is the blackish colour and the rustic taste they get from the black rice.


Meghalya – Jadoh & tungtap

When it comes to the cuisine of Meghalya, Jadoh is the undisputed hero and for all the right reasons. What is not to love about rustic short grain red hill rice cooked with aromatic spices and little pieces of pork. This Khasi delicacy is a one pot meal and needs no accompaniment and is full of flavours just by itself. Besides the jadoh make sure you sample tungtap – a spicy smoked dry frish chutney.


Mizoram – bai (pork and spinach curry)

The Cuisine of Mizoram like the place itself is quite enchanting. There are several things that will catch your fancy and one amongst them is bai. It is one of the most popular dishes in Mizoram and is made by steaming veggies, spinach, some exquisite local herbs, bamboo shoot and spices. You can skip the pork sauce which is made with pork fat and mustard and use chicken instead or just do a vegetarian version of it.


Nagaland – Apong

Apong is the traditional rice beer made in Nagaland. It is made with a strainous process of drying rice grain, soaking and fertiming them inside a bamboo shoot. The taste in pungent and the high is strong, worth all the trouble that goes into making it. A perfect accompaniment to the spicy dishes from Nagaland.


Orrisa – chennapoda

Chennapoda literally mans roasted cheese in Odiya but if we had to rename it we would call it the best mithai ever. Fresh chenna, sugar and cashewnuts cooked till it is thick and goes brown in colour. It is a soft and pillowy dessert loaded with the goodness of chenna, which is a rich source of protein too.


Punjab – Choori and kanji

There is nothing about Punjabi food that hasn’t already been said so we decided to introduce you to this simple rustic dish from Punjab that you can easily make any time any day and within minutes – the choori. Choori is made by pounding whole wheat flour rotis and sautéing them with ghee and nuts. Add jaggery to make a gud ki choori or fine sugar to make shakkar ki choori. Yes, Punjabi food can be extremely simple too! Also try out Kanji a winter speciality, specifically made in a matka with fresh carrots, mustard seeds, salt and water which is fermented for four to five days – pungent and refreshing.


Rajasthan –Ker sangri

The scarcity of fresh vegetables in the region has resulted in using available resources and creating food that is fit for royalty. There are a number of exciting recipes that are exclusive to Rajasthan and kersangri is one of them. The story goes that ker and sangri were discovered ages ago by Rajasthani villagers during the time of a great famine when the already scarce natural vegetation had died and withered, but these tiny radish-like pods, ker and longish beans, sangri flourished nonchalantly in the punishing sun. Intrigued by the appearance of these berries and delighted by their availability, the villagers took them home, dried them further and cooked them with oil, chillies and other spices. What this gave is our beloved accompaniment to bajra rotis – kersangi ki sabzi.


Sikkim - phagshapa

You can clearly see the Tibetian influence in the cuisine of Sikkim. Besides the momos and the thukpa one thing you definitely should eat if you are a pork lover is – phagshapa. A thick strip of pork fat is stewed with pungent radishes and dried red chillies. The result is spicy flavourful accompaniment that will make even plain steamed rice seem like a gourmet dish.


Tamil Nadu – jhangiri

All of us are aware of the fiery fare that Chettinaad cuisine boast off, but do you know they do mithais and sweets just as brilliantly. If you are a fan of the jalebi and you haven’t tried a jhangiri, you are definitely missing out on one of the finer pleasures of life. This chunky, glossy, flower shaped, melt in the mouth South Indian cousin of a jalebi is quite the celebrity in a Tamil food feast!



A biryani from the youngest state of India is like its people, exciting, spicy, sweet and tangy – all in one!  Mostly a kachchi biryani - where kachchi means raw, here you don’t precook any of the ingredients. Pieces of marinated mutton, soaked long grain basmati rice and fragrant whole spices, perfectly sealed and cooked together on low heat for hours – till the meat is tender and falls of the bone  and the rice has fluffed up and soft.  Fried onions or birista, fried nuts, kewra water and saffron strands are added to this for aroma, texture and flavour!


Uttarakhand – bhang ki chutney

Uttarakhand is one of the few places in the world that has the natural climate to produce hemp and boy do they do a lot of things with their prized produce. One of the things is to make a hemp seed chutney. The seeds are dry roasted and ground to a chutney with red chillies, cumin, lemon juice and salt. All you need to try this one out is some hemp seeds or a trip to Uttarakhand.


Uttar Pradesh – kakori kabab

The kababs of Lucknow have already achieved worldwide fame, but here is a little trivia of how the chefs in the royal kitchens came up with the gorgeousness that kakori kababs are. Legend goes that the Nawab of Kakori in Awadh lost his teeth but not the craving for kababs. So the cooks in the royal kitchen came up with a preparation that would just melt in the mouth. The cooks say that there should be the right proportion of papaya mixed with minced meat for the kakoris to have this softness.


West Bengal – Nolen gurer

What used to be a winter specialty in West Bengal is now so popular that it is available in tubes in many parts of the country and abroad. Yes, we are talking about Kolkata’s favourite – nolengur or date palm jagerry. Now, date palm jaggery may not really be a novelty item, but the way the sweet makers of Bengal have managed to use them over the years certainly is. Enclosed between sandesh, roshogulla and other mishti or drizzled over ice cream - this liquid gold is a matter of pride for several Bengali food fanatics.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.