What is Indian cuisine?
When we traditionally think of Indian food, I used to think of chicken korma and poppadoms. But , it's so much more than that.
And, I saw very little korma (none in the Westernised way) and poppadoms!
I warn you now, once you dine on authentic Indian food, in India, you’ll never be able to eat the UK version again. (Well yes you can eat it, but it won’t be as good)
Indian cuisine will vary depending on the region you are visiting.
South Indian Speciality
For example, in South India, Dosa is a really popular dish, and I am gutted I didn’t spend much time in the south for the purpose of eating lots of dosa.
But you can find dosa elsewhere, just make sure you get a decent place that's making it.
Dosa is basically like a pancake type base that is stuffed with a variety of different flavours of your choice.
There are many to choose from, but personally, being a cheese lover, I do love cheese dosa.
It typically comes with other delicious vegetables or light spices in it, and it’s truly mouth-watering.
Masala dosa is a traditional Indian breakfast dish, and if you opt for an “Indian” breakfast, then you will find it on all the menus in hostels, hotels and general restaurants.
Personally, the masala dosa is a little too spicy for me in the morning, so I’d rather have an omelette.
India does a masala omelette too, which is basically lighter spice and far more pleasant.
You can get vegetarian dosa too, an for diabetics, since it’s made with high starch items, you might find you need a little extra insulin.
It’s a slow release food, which is when extended boluses come in handy on an insulin pump.
Typical breakfast items in India
To continue our food tour on the most popular Indian dishes, I thought it would be good to break it up into breakfast lunch and dinner.
So, breakfast typically consists of some form of an egg, whether it’s an omelette or fried eggs, masala dosa (as mentioned above),
It’s not uncommon for some form of vegetable/potato curry to be available in the morning.
I love that India has spice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but personally, I can’t handle breakfast spice haha
Breakfast can also consist of these items
- Bread and jam
- Punjab's love for paranthas is India's worst kept secret. Stuffed with spiced potatoes, radish, paneer or cauliflower and topped with a dollop of butter,
- Odisha curry style
- Sattu paranthas, stuffed with spices and sattu or flour made with roasted gram flour and grains
- Dhuska (deep fried pancakes)
And much more. The fun thing is, that because India is so big, each region and even town/city can have a different breakfast cuisine option.
This means you can start your day right by experiencing lots of different foods.
Typical lunch and dinner items in India
Lunch and dinner items kind of blend into one, but I'll go through what we typically chose.
- Paneer Butter Masala
- Paneer Tikka
- Nans of various sorts (garlic or cheese)
- Butter Roti
- Rice (we didn’t really eat rice)
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Chicken Korma (this is not the coconut dish you get in the UK)
- Paneer Koliwada
- Cheese Pakora
- Tandoori Chicken
- Paneer Makhani
- Palak Paneer
- Aloo (of various sorts) Aloo is a potato.
You can get all the curries in a vegetable, chicken, mutton and fish version.
A typical day in India: What Bradley and I eat
Breakfast: Often Bradley and I had breakfast included in our room rate, so we would have eggs with bread, nothing too adventurous.
Sometimes I would have a mixed potato curry or even some roti in the mornings. Fruit would also be common with tea and coffee.
Masala tea is the tea of choice in India and it’s basically milk tea with light spices. It’s amazing and you’ll soon find you have an addition.
The people of India are very friendly and you will often have masala tea offered to you in little cups for free.
But it typically cost around 10 pence-20 pence. (Fancy places will charge you about £50-1)
Lunch: Lunch and Dinner would be a similar affair for Bradley and I. It would be some sort of curry with roti or naan. Typically Butter Masala or Tikka.
Dinner: Dinner would be the same as lunch (you don’t get bored- trust me) or we would opt for chicken noodles or something like that.
There are so many Indian curries to taste and you will never run out of things to try. AND because it’s all cooked fresh and everyone has their own spin on a curry, they often taste different each time.
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Useful things to note about Indian food
Paneer is a type of cheese commonly made and eaten in India. Paneer is great.
It’s a good vegetarian option, and in some places in India where meat is not allowed to be eaten (Such as Pushkar), it’s a great alternative.
Paneer isn’t a “strong” cheese, rather it’s a bit like mozzarella, with a very mild flavour. This allows the actual taste of the curry to shine through!
You often find that paneer dishes are slightly cheaper than meat dishes, but in all seriousness, it’s all so cheap, the difference is about 40 pence.
Rice isn’t all that common. When you order food, it comes with without rice, and often people have it with naan or chapati or roti, something like that.
Locals tend to eat with their fingers. It’s just common practice. Sometimes you will need to request a knife and fork. The knife and fork is quite a westernised practice.
Should I eat street food?
Yes and no. We didn’t eat a lot of street food, mainly because we didn’t have the need too.
Food in restaurants is super cheap, and we often prefer having a sit-down meal.
But there is a lot of street food available and we have spoken to people who have eaten street food and survived.
Lots of people I spoke to before I went to India always said “Oh, don’t get the street food”, but 99% of these people had never actually been to India.
It all seems like the same cooking style, and cleanliness as SouthEast Asia, (for the most part).
Just be sensible. You can usually tell when something is going to make you sick or not.
Is India expensive for food?
No. Not at all. Even in the fanciest of restaurants, it’s still cheap.
We probably spent around $6-8 on food a day each, and that was us eating “mid-range”, i.e not the cheapest of cheap, and in nice restaurants with air conditioning.
That price includes alcohol too on occasion.
What I will say is that once you eat Indian food in India, you will never find somewhere that does it as good in the UK.
You won’t be able to get an Indian curry from a jar again and think “this is crap”. Just saying.
It will make you want to return to India (including all the amazing things to do and see in India) but you will find yourself craving the food!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my post on Indian cuisine. As you can tell, I really must have liked it if I bothered to write a whole post about it.
Advice for type 1 diabetics and Indian food
When it comes to trying new foods, it can often present new challenges for type 1 diabetes.
I love trying new food, so what I suggest is learning how to carbohydrate count in order to be able to eat Indian food without the high blood sugars.
If you want to make it a little easier for yourself, then avoid the rice and opt for roti or chapati, these are much lower carb than rice.
Stick to tomato based curry sauces as creamier ones tend to have sugar and higher carbs in them.
If you do opt for rice, then choose an extended bolus on your insulin pump.
If you are drinking with your meal, then remember alcohol will lower your blood sugar naturally!
I hope you've enjoyed this post and comment below with your favourite Indian foods.
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