India food stories
India’s most Instagrammable food
Dreamy mountain vistas and palm-fringed beaches aside, India’s food was made for the camera lens. From colourful curries to perfectly round rice cakes, not forgetting the decadent desserts, the country’s many culinary delights are the definition of #foodporn. And it’s not just your eyes that are in for a treat. Rich in flavour and seasoned to the nines, each dish is carefully crafted to tantalise your tastebuds.
What’s great about Indian cuisine is that each region has its own unique traditions and style of cooking. As you travel from north to south, east to west, you’ll have the chance to experience a variety of lip-smacking local delicacies - and trust us when we say you won’t be able to resist whipping out your smartphone to snap what’s on your plate.
Looking to up your ‘gram game during your trip to India? Here’s our pick of the country’s most Instagrammable food.
No trip to India is complete without trying a thali. This photo-worthy feast involves a selection of delicious dishes served on a platter and is based on the idea that a balance of flavours (sweet, salty, spicy etc.) should be offered on a single plate. Basically, you get a little bit of everything. Sounds good, right?
Typical thalis have either rice or roti as the central dish, surrounded by small bowls of dal (pulse soup), veg curries, dahi (curd), and various other delicacies. Small helpings of yoghurt or chutney may also be served, plus a dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Every region has its own take on thali and will use locally-sourced ingredients and various cooking techniques. For example, vegetarian versions with rice are common in south India, particularly Tamil Nadu. But as diverse as they are, each thali guarantees a mouth-watering medley of flavours, colours and textures - just remember to take a photo before you tuck in!
Another quintessential Indian food, but this time on the sweet side. Originating in northern India, these maroon-coloured balls are typically served during special occasions and are made mainly from milk solids (or Khoya). OK, so this may not sound particularly appetising, but don’t knock it just yet. Once the milk solids have been needed into a dough, they’re deep fried, coated in a sugary syrup and seasoned with green cardamom, saffron or rose water. A delicate sprinkling of dried fruit and nuts adds the finishing touch. The result? Melt-in-your-mouth balls with seductively smooth surfaces. This drool-worthy dish is guaranteed to amp up any foodstagramming feed - but you’ll have to ditch your diet in the process.
Although Gulab Jamun recipes hark back to medieval times, innovative Indian chefs tend to give the recipe a modern twist by adding fruity flavours or by rolling them in coconut shavings. In some of India’s stylish restaurants, the dessert comes in a swanky glass accompanied by generous helpings of fresh cream or ice cream. No filter required.
With recent studies showing that curry is the most Instagrammed food in the UK, where better to photograph this popular food than in the place it originated from? Pav Bhaji, a hearty vegetable curry, started life as a quick snack for mill workers in Mumbai and is now one of the city’s most sought-after street food. To see what all the fuss is about, a Mumbai street food tour will take you to some of the best markets, hand carts and hole-in-the-wall restaurants on the culinary map.
Pav Bhaji is characterised by its vivid red/orange colour, topped with a handful of fresh herbs and vegetables with a sumptuously soft roll on the side. As comfort food goes, this is up there with the best of the bunch. And while it may not have the artistic flair or beautiful arrangement of some of the, let’s say, more elegant Indian fare, it’s guaranteed to rack up some serious ‘likes’ purely for making your mouth water. Plus, you’ll get bonus points for its rustic, authentically Indian vibe.
A favourite breakfast food across the whole of India, idli is a savoury cake made from rice and lentils. With its symmetrical shape, snow-white hue and pillowy texture, this is India’s equivalent to the perfectly poached egg - and it’s far too tempting to share a shot of these beauties with your food-obsessed followers.
However, while they might look great, idlis tend to be slightly bland in taste, which is why they’re often served with sambar - a lentil-based vegetable stew popular in south India. Sambar is a foodie photographer’s dream, with the vivid green okra and moringa plants offset by bright bursts of radish, carrot, pumpkin, eggplant and tomatoes. And yes, it really does taste as good as it looks. To add to the kaleidoscope of colours, idli sambar is frequently served on a banana leaf, with an added dollop of red or green chutney. Of course, it’s veggie and vegan-friendly too, so you’re bound to get some kudos from the health and eco-conscious instagramming community.
Chances are, you’ve probably seen a fair few ice creams crop up on your feed. From perfectly whipped cones to sickly-sweet sundaes, these good-looking desserts were designed to be photographed before eaten.
India’s answer to these popular frozen treats is kulfi. A traditional Indian sweet, it looks and tastes similar to ice cream but is slightly thicker and creamier in texture. Kulfi comes in a variety of traditional and exotic flavours such as rose, cream (malai) and pistachio, as well as millennial-focused variations such as strawberry, avocado and peanut.
The cone-shaped dessert can be served ice-lolly style, or if you’re dining in a restaurant, it’ll likely come upright on a plate, drizzled with a sweet sauce and topped with crushed peanuts or fruit. It’s almost too good to eat.
So there you have it - some of India’s most photogenic food. Whether you’re a pro with the camera or not, these dishes are guaranteed to be an Instagram hit.
To find out what food experiences we offer at Meraki Travel, head over to our itinerary builder. From street food tours to fine-dining, you’re bound to find something to suit your tastes from our experience packs.