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Food and Drink: Classic Dishes

Listed below are a few of the many dishes associated with the cuisine of India. Recipes for these classic dishes and many others can be found in the Recipes section.


Aloo BondaBondas are deep-fried balls of potatoes, dipped in spicy chickpea flour batter.

Bhel Puri – A very popular type of chat (street-side snack) originating from Gujarat and now synonymous with Mumbai. Diced tomatoes, onions, and chutneys are combined with crunchy sev (fried chickpea-flour snacks) and puffed rice to create a sweet and sour crunchy mixture.

Murukku – A mixture of toasted lentils, salt, chili, asafoetida, ajwin, and/or cumin.

Pakora – A common Indian snack of vegetables (onions, potatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, spinach, chilies) dipped in chickpea batter and deep-fried.

Samosas – Savory fried turnovers with various fillings (potatoes, peas, lentils) traditionally served with tamarind or coriander chutney, but nowadays more commonly served with ketchup.

Vada – A savory doughnut served with coconut chutney or sambar.


Aatu Kaal Soup – A brothy soup made from mutton bones which is popular in Andhra Pradesh.

Carrot Coriander Soup – A thick soup made with carrots, ginger, and coriander.

Rasam – A thin lentil and black pepper broth popular in South India.


Fried Green Tomato Salad – Fried green tomatoes are dressed in curry powder, cilantro, and lemon or lime juice.

Fruit Salad – Seasonal fruits are a popular part of meals.


Chicken Biryani – A dish made with chicken marinated in spices and yogurt that is cooked with basmati rice.

Fish Moolie Stew – A spicy South Asian stew of fish, coconut milk, tomato, onion, and spices.

Hyderabadi BiryaniBiryanis are a combination of basmati rice and spices traditionally served for celebrations. This version reflects the Muslim history of Hyderabad and is made from lamb or mutton.

Pulao with Shrimp and Coconut Milk – A rice dish (pilaf) made with fragrant basmati rice and a combination of vegetables, sometimes also including seafood or chicken.

Tamarind Rice –Tamarind is very commonly used in India, especially in South Indian cooking.


Chapati  – A traditional Indian flatbread eaten with curries.

Cucumber Raita – A popular cooling yogurt side dish.

Dosa – A savory South Indian crepe made from a fermented rice and lentil dough and fried in ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil. Dosas can be filled with vegetable curries or simply eaten with chutneys.

Mango Rice – Basmati or jasmine rice combined with mango, cashews, and traditional South Asian spices such as curry powder, turmeric, and mint.

Sambar – A lentil soup served alongside many dishes.


Gulab Jamun – Brown dumplings of flour and dried milk soaked in a spiced sugar syrup.

Jalebi – Deep-fried pastry rings soaked in a syrup made from sugar and rosewater.


Chai – India is the world’s largest producer, exporter, and consumer of tea, with a typical Indian having chai four times a day. Masala chai, where the tea is combined with milk, sugar, cardamom, and black pepper, is more common in Northern India.

Kaapi – South India produces outstanding coffee, and "filter coffee," a sweet and milky coffee made from a combination of dark roasted coffee and chicory, is extremely popular.

Lassi – A refreshing yogurt drink that can be prepared in sweet or salty versions.


Barfi – Present at any special occasion, barfi are small brick-shaped sweets made from reduced milk. North Indian versions are lighter in color and sweeter than their South Indian cousins, which use more ginger and cinnamon.

Kheer – This rice pudding made by boiling rice, milk, and sugar with cardamom and pistachios is an essential part of feasts and celebrations. When made with vermicelli, it is called sayviah or sevai. Payasam and other types of sweets are often given as offerings to the gods in Hindu temples.