Is there a country in the world that compares to India when it comes to the diversity of food on offer? Every region, every state and every city has its speciality. It would take a dissertation to break down the differences in cooking styles, but if there’s one thing we’ve discovered in our travels, it's that the best way to learn is to dig in and try as much as you can. Whether the only Indian food you've eaten is a butter chicken mopped up with naan or you've worked your way through the menus at all your local Indian food joints, we promise your tastebuds will be in for a treat when you visit this fascinating country.

Northern Indian cuisine

Top northern Indian foods to try: rogan josh, korma, tandoori chicken, momos

Northern Indian cuisine is the typical style one would expect to find outside of India. Rogan josh and chicken korma both hail from the north, which is also known for its love of flatbreads like chapati and naan. Tandoors (clay ovens) are popular too, in which dishes like tandoori chicken are cooked, and dairy plays an important role in daily cooking. The Indian cheese ‘paneer’ is used as a vegetarian alternative in a lot of dishes, and curries are often served with raita, or yoghurt.

The mountainous regions of the north see more of a Tibetan and Nepali influence so there are more dumplings, noodles and stews. Momos, the Nepalese dumplings, are particularly prevalent (and delicious!).

Western Indian cuisine

Top western Indian foods to try: Goan fish curry, vindaloo, bhelpuri

The Western Indian regions are predominantly Hindu and the cuisine is heavily vegetarian, though this changes from state to state. Maharashtra, for example, has a lot of fish-based dishes thanks to its coastal location, while Goa has a fairly unique blend of Indian and Portuguese styles as it was once a major Portuguese trading port. Vindaloo is a great example of this influence: its name comes from Vinho de Alho’, a Portuguese marinade. Like Maharashtra, Goan cuisine also features seafood and coconuts thanks to its coastal location.

Eastern Indian cuisine

Top eastern Indian foods to try: mishti doi, rasgulla, dalma

In the coastal regions of the east, fish is the protein of choice while further inland it’s pork and chicken. Dishes are less spicy than, say, the northern style, with mustard seeds playing more of a role in flavouring. Rice is big, but nowhere near as big as desserts, for which eastern India is known. Some popular desserts include the kheer rice pudding, a sweetened yoghurt known as a ‘mishti doi’ and rasgulla, a sponge-like ball of cottage cheese soaked in syrup.

Southern Indian cuisine

Top southern Indian foods to try: biryani, dosa, idils, vadas

The meals and specialities in the south differ from region to region, of course, with Hyderabad, for example, known for its biryani. Whereas the north loves a bit of flatbread, the southerners tend to steer towards rice, lentils, stews and the ever-satisfying dosa, which is a popular breakfast dish. Though dosas are now widespread in India, they originated in the south and are like a kind of crepe, made from rice and served with chutney and sambar (a lentil stew).

What are vegetarian and plant-based options like in India?

India is one of the best destinations on the planet for vegetarians and vegans. Though the percentage of Indians that describe themselves as total vegetarians is in decline, there are still plenty of meat-free options available around the country. Lentils, chickpeas, paneer (cottage cheese) and kofta are common as curry options, for example, while aloo paratha, which is a flatbread stuffed with potato and spices, is a must-try dish for meat-eaters and plant-based travellers alike.

Vegans will encounter plenty of options, too. In fact, Intrepid runs its very own Indian Vegan Food Adventure, which visits Delhi, Jaipur, Kanota and Agra while fitting in as much tasty vegan food as possible. Vegans should be wary, however, of dishes cooked in ghee, which is a kind of butter. Be sure to ask that your food is not cooked with ghee.

Of course, this is all a lot easier when you’re travelling with a local, someone who knows the language and the culture. If you travel with Intrepid, you’ll have a local leader who can help you decipher menus and recommend the tastiest plant-based choices.

Learn about what to drink in India

Return to India FAQs

Our tours in India

14 Days From 3211

Take in north India’s fabled cities and encounter the exotic wildlife of Ranthambhore...

8 Days From 709

Take an action-packed eight-day tour through the essential sights and bites of India’s...

15 Days From 1174

Travel to India and visit the Rajasthan region. Tour from Delhi to Pushkar through...

10 Days From 2389

Take a 10-day India Premium adventure with Intrepid through the country’s north,...

13 Days From 2917

Join Intrepid on a Premium adventure to explore the beaches, bazaars and backwaters of...

Tailor-Made trips

Take two or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

22 Days From 5770

Join Intrepid on a Premium adventure to explore opulent places, holy Ganges, dense...

15 Days From 1641

Travel to India and Nepal on a tour from Delhi to Kathmandu. Visit the Taj Mahal of...

11 Days From 563

Get the most out of 11 days in India on this trip exploring the best of Delhi, Varanasi...

15 Days From 1913

See the best of Rajasthan on this 15-day tour. Behold the delights of Agra, Jaipur,...

22 Days From 935

See the essentials of India’s north on a 22-day trip through Delhi, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur,...

10 Days From 1185

Take an action-packed family tour of India, following tiger trails, visiting Delhi and...

15 Days From 2062

Relish the sights and flavours of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mumbai and Goa on this...

13 Days From 1620

Travel to India and visit Delhi, Shimla, Mandi, Dharamsala, Rishikesh and Amritsar on...

15 Days From 1410

Explore the tropical and spiritual southern India. Ride the toy train in Ooty, relax in...

15 Days From 1083

Discover India in all its glory on this 15-day spice-filled adventure from Delhi...

16 Days From 1050

See the landscapes of South India on a 16-day adventure from Varkala to Goa via Kerala...

11 Days From 555

Join us for a jaunt around north India, with rickshaws in Delhi, spirituality in...

13 Days From 855

Explore India and Nepal with other folks aged 18-29 on this 13-day adventure including...

9 Days From 1560

Visit ancient temples and colourful cities on this northern India adventure through...

15 Days From 1013

Get on the road from Kathmandu to Delhi on a trip from Nepal to India, through Pokhara,...

19 Days From 2330

Spend 19 days touring India and Nepal, departing from Delhi and visiting Jaipur, Agra,...

16 Days From 794

Get an authentic slice of the real Rajasthan on a trip that takes you to Delhi,...

13 Days From 2200

Explore the backroads of India’s south on this 13-day tour. Travel from Chennai to...

37 Days From 1902

Discover the colours and cultures of India on this trip visiting Delhi, Rajasthan's...

15 Days From 1919

Travel to India and cycle the romantic Rajasthan region. Tour from Delhi to Pushkar and...

11 Days From 1070

Discover northern India on this tour through Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Nimaj,...

29 Days From 2580

This 29-day tour traverses India from south to north, winding from Kochi to Delhi and...

10 Days From 1445

Your whole family will love this incredible sensory adventure into the diverse life of...

20 Days From 1350

From the deserts of Rajasthan to the holiest river around, India will blow you away....

21 Days From 4252

Get a cultural insight into India’s north and south, travelling through Delhi, Agra,...

12 Days From 1090

Join an all-women group and female leader on an inspiring 12-day Women’s Expedition...

20 Days From 1910

Spend time in Kathmandu and Pokhara and then see where Buddha did his thing. Get active...

19 Days From 1895

Visit India and tour the famous Golden Triangle of Dehli, Agra, and Jaipur, delve into...

3 Days From 283

Visit India and travel from Delhi to Agra. Travel to the Taj Mahal and Agra’s Red Fort,...

4 Days From 263

Lift your spirits as you float on the Ganges at dawn in Varanasi, and explore the city...