Find the best restaurants to eat in India where the colours, flavours and aromas intermingle to form delicious dishes.
In a country where the population exceeds 1.2 billion, it is impossible to refer to a single culinary tradition. Flavours vary greatly depending on which area of India you’re in – and spicy is not always a constant.
Vegetarian dishes characterise many of the gastronomic traditions of India. In fact, there is no important food that does not include sabzi (vegetables), which can be consumed in tari (sauce) or sukhi (dried).
Here are some of the best restaurants in India, as well as some must-try dishes, to taste.
Restaurants in India
Indian Accent, New Delhi
Indian Accent has been named among the 50 best restaurants in the world and has branches in London and New York.
With his inventive Indian cooking style, critically acclaimed chef Manish Mehrotra perfectly incorporates unusual ingredients sourced from around the world into traditional Indian dishes to create a culinary adventure.
Think Thai pomelo segments with amla murabba (gooseberry preserve) reduction and roast cashew and chicken tikka quesadilla with Swiss Gruyere and pink peppercorn raita (cucumber yoghurt sauce to get your mouth watering.
77, Friends Colony West, New Delhi
Bukhara, New Delhi
Some culinary experts say that to really taste the meat, you have to eat it with your hands. This is exactly the culinary philosophy of Bukhara restaurant in New Delhi. It’s a place where luxury and good food are not at odds with the liberation of forgetting silverware and tying an apron around your neck.
The dishes are undeniably Indian with sikandari raan (mutton leg), murgh malai kebabs (chicken kebab) and its signature dal Bukhara (black lentils, ginger and garlic stew slow cooked over coal fires) set to sate your hunger.
The interior reads like a cave, complete with stone walls and low tables. If you love to rub shoulders with the famous, the restaurant is also a favourite with political leaders, including former Russian president Vladimir Putin and former US president Bill Clinton.
3, Comedy Centre, Ashok Vihar Phase 2, New Delhi
Peshawari is the sister restaurant to Bukhara and no less exceptional. You’ll find it inside ITC Grand Maratha Hotel in Mumbai where it’s become a true favourite amongst travellers and expats searching for authentic delicacies of the north-west frontier with an atmosphere to complement.
Meals are cooked traditionally in clay pots called tandoor while the fitout is dressed in worn trestle tables and copper pots and urns that dangle charmingly from the ceiling.
Signature dishes include a light selection of kebabs and paneer kurchan, which is a flavoursome stew pot of cottage cheese, tomatoes and spices.
Tajganj | ITC Mughal, Agra
Succulent seafood, freshly delivered to your plate, is what you should expect when you book a table at Trishna in Mumbai. And yes, you should book because while the restaurant is open from noon to night, it takes in a crowd of hungry stomachs with little respite.
The establishment has been running for more than 40 years and its name is renowned. Hollywood and Bollywood stars aren’t strangers to its tables, which serve Indian coastal delicacies such as crab in butter, garlic and pepper sauce, lobster in chilli garlic sauce and jumbo prawns tandoor.
7, Saibaba Road, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai
Go with the Flow
Minutes from the beachfront in Baga, Go with the Flow is paradise within paradise. It’s the kind of restaurant that lingers with you longer after you’ve finished your meals and returned home.
All attention and care has been put into each and every dish, from the way the flavours fuse and the colours drip off the plate to the presentation of every little element in front of you.
Then, let’s not forget about the view which is all waterfront, romantic and relaxing.
614 River Road | Baga, Arpora, Baga
Little World, Palolem
This colourful and casual Goa cafe is minutes from the beach and offers a breezy atmosphere and light meals to keep you fuelled for your adventure-filled day ahead.
The staff are friendly and welcoming. The menu is short, but people pleasing, primarily comprising of western favourites such as scrambled eggs and pancakes. If nothing else, order an iced chai. It’s a must on a hot summer’s day.
Main Beach Road, Palolem
Chokhi Dhani: Village Fair and Restaurant, Jaipur
Chokhi Dhani is an ethnic resort that reads less like a hotel and more like a small village. Within its walls you’ll discover glimpses of the spirit and lifestyle of Rajasthan from service and entertainment to its decor and cuisine.
The Village Fair and Restaurant is where you’ll dine to your heart’s desire. As you enter, the staff will welcome you by marking your forehead, and as you continue on your culinary journey all manner of Rajasthan decoration will address you from the walls, including local art and earthen pots.
The restaurant itself offers fresh fare with scenic views in a rural Indian setting. In the evenings, you can also enjoy performances by Rajasthani folk dancers and musicians.
12 Miles, Tonk Road, via Vatika, Jaipur
Jal Mahal Restaurant, Jaipur
Located in the luxurious ITC Rajputana Hotel in the heart of Jaipur, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more outstanding experience in the city. It is the top rated restaurant in Jaipur on TripAdvisor, after all.
Jal Mahal translates to water palace and its restaurant is surrounded by a body of water and decked to the nines in marble in response. For guests, it offers a myriad buffet options from classic English meals to traditional Rajasthani thali (Indian-style platters).
Live musical performances along with a delicious meal take the dining experience to a whole new level.
ITC Rajputana, Palace Road, Jaipur
Enjoy the best of Mughlai cuisine in the City of Joy. Although the place is cramped and remains busy throughout the day, the quality of the dishes is more than enough reason to visit it at least once.
Start with a creamy plate of chicken kebab, followed by the spicy chicken biryani and finish your meal with a cold, sweet plate of firni, a traditional dessert of rice, full-cream milk and sugar.
28, Circus Ave, Lower Range, Park Circus, Ballygunge, Kolkata
Karavalli has been serving authentic home-style dishes from the south-western coastal region since it opened its doors in 1990.
Today, the restaurant offers a wide range of dishes suitable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
Recent renovations have transformed Karavalli to adopt a simpler, more elegant tropical south-Indian look.
When the weather is pleasant, as it often is in Bengaluru, it is a delight to dine in its open seating arrangement.
66, Ground Floor,The Gateway Hotel, Bengaluru, Karnataka
Top 7 Indian foods
The variety of Indian foods know no bounds but if you’re stuck for choice in among the curries and the dosas, here are five must-try eats that you can find practically everywhere.
Popular as an entree or snack, samosas have been called the national street food of India. Similar to a dumpling, they’re made up of a wheat shell that’s stuff with all manner of filling from potatoes and lentils to cheese and minced meats. They’re then baked or deep fried until crispy on the outside.
Depending on where in India you are, samosas can be flavoured differently or be presented in different sizes.
This thin, large and crispy pancake is made of a rice and black gram batter and cooked on a hot griddle, similar to the way a crepe would be prepared.
It’s then topped with fillings such as potatoes, spiced paneer and chutney and folded either in half or numerous times until it forms a wrap.
Depending on its fillings, it can be eaten as a meal or as a dessert.
Often referred to as Indian pilaf, this stock-standard dish is a crowd pleaser, particular for fussy eaters.
It’s made from rice cooked in a seasoned broth and can be flavoured with meat, vegetable or fish.
It often comes with a side of spiced yoghurt or raita, which is a mixture of yoghurt and vegetables.
Roti has found its way into many Asian countries from India to Malaysia down to Indonesia and Maldives.
The Indian version is an unleavened flatbread made of wholemeal flour and is often eaten alongside curry meals or vegetables.
Translated, chai means tea and may refer to any type of tea possible.
Indian teas tend to be sweet and packed full of spices. Popular types you’ll find on the continent include masala chai, assam and darjeeling.
Neon in colour and thick to taste, lassi is a common beverage with a yoghurt base that is ideal to drink when indulging in curry.
While traditional lassi takes on a savoury taste because it’s flavoured with cumin, it’s common to see fruit and spice versions of it on menus. Some flavours you may find include mango lassi and rose water lassi.
India’s answer to ice cream, kulfi is a frozen dessert made of sweetened and flavoured milk that is slow cooked until thick and then frozen.
It resembles something akin to a yoghurt ice block and is sometimes peppered with dried fruits, spices and nuts.
Food tours and cooking classes
Take your love for Indian food one step further by joining one of these food tours and cooking classes.
Delhi food tour
Rajasthani cooking experience
Mumbai food tour
Cooking class in a local home
Food and drink deals in India
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Feature image: Indian Accent