Regional Cuisine

India is a country with diversity of cuisine that is difficult to find in any other country. Indian cuisine f r o m different regions is considered to be one of the tastiest and subtlest. There is no homogeneity of flavour and taste between cuisines f r o m the North and South or between East and West.  One can say that the diversity is one of India’s treasures and that is probably the reason why this cuisine is more popular than international cuisine. Ashok Malkani, in the first part of the story on regional cuisine, discussed about the different regional cuisines of India. Here he talks about which are the best regional cuisines and their popularity, as compared to international cuisines.

Travelling across the country one finds that there is a variety of Indian cuisine. Each region has its own specific cuisine. The popularity of Goan food, Gujarat or western region cuisine, Bengal, Ladakh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, et al have their own specialities that are delectable and delicious to savour. Even Indians are not aware of all the dishes that are doled out by different regions f r o m the country. A layman would like to know which are the most popular food regions and their popular dishes, as well as the info whether they are available in other regions. He is also curious to know about the different regional food available in the F&B outlets.   

Popular Food Regions

Neeraj Rawoot, Executive Chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC declares, “It would be tough to select the best food regions, as each region possess its own characteristics when it comes to food. However, there are certain regional cuisines such as Mughlai, Hyderabadi, North-Indian, Bengali, Gujarati, Malvani and Goan cuisines that are popular and attract food connoisseurs f r o m all over the world.

Regional cuisine of India is not only appealing and delicious in taste but also reflects the culture of the region they emerge f r o m. Sofitel Mumbai BKC has 2 decadent restaurants presenting authentic vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian cuisine.

Jyran – offers an epicurean experience featuring the cuisine of the poets and warriors f r o m the north-west frontiers of India. The contemporary diner offers exquisite Mughalai cuisine to be relished amidst a medieval art, al fresco setting.

Tuskers – Vegetarian Dining Bar, is the only restaurant in a 5-star setting, which has a separate vegetarian kitchen for its guests, serving typical Indian dishes f r o m the regions of Gujarat, Marwar, Rajasthan, South India and many more for lunch and dinner and a wholesome Thali for lunch on weekdays. The elegant restaurant has recently announced the launch of its new Thali, comprising a combination of delicacies f r o m each region of India.” 

Saurabh Singh, Executive Chef, Four Points by Sheraton, Kochi believes, “The regional Malabar cuisine of Kerala is one of the best regional cuisine to experience. The cuisine of Malabar is distinctive due to the deep influence of various cultures that have blended into the very fabric of this region.”

He adds, “Regional cuisines are popular in their own region and also in other regions. Some of the dishes which are popular in other regions are: Punjabi (Butter Chicken, Tandoori Chicken, Chole Bhature and Dal Makhani), Kashmiri (Mutton Rogan Josh, Modur Pulav, Yakhni Mutton Curry and Dum Aloo), Gujarati (Thepla, Dhokla, Khandvi, Fafda and Kachori), Bengali (Machher Jhol, Sandesh, Aloo Potol Posto, and Mishti Doi).”

Vilas Dhankute, Sous Chef, Grand Mercure Bangalore also believes that several regional dishes f r o m different regions are popular in other parts of the country. Some of the popular dishes he lists are: Dal Bati Churma, Laal Mass, Pindi Chole, Mutton Rogan Josh, Allepey Fish Curry, Manglorean Fish Curry , Donne Biryani etc. “I personally love the Marathi food,” he Adds.  

Anil Chabukswar, Executive Chef, Grand Mercure Mysuru confesses, “I cannot particularly pinpoint on a region having the best food as each region has its own recipes and their culture of cooking is also different, making them unique in their own way.”

He lists some of the dishes popular across the country as: Hyderabadi Biryani and Kebabs, Kerala Chettinad and Appam, Kashmiri Mutton Rogan and Yakkni, Maharashtrian Vada Pav, Missal and Padre Rassa, also Bengali Machar Jhol to Bengali Sweets and Punjabi Butter Chicken to Dal Makhni. 

Avinash Kumar, Executive Chef, Novotel Imagica Khopoli states, “Although selecting the best food regions in the country is impossible as each state in India is brimming with exquisite food. Regional cuisine such as Goan, Gujarati, Hyderabadi, Bengali, Malvani and South Indian are considered to be best because of their distinct flavours.

The traditional food of India has been widely appreciated for its use of herbs and spices. Indian cuisine is known for its large assortment of dishes. The fame of Indian food has reached even foreign shores and there is galloping demand for it f r o m all quarters. Talking about regional cuisine in India, their popularity is not only in their own regions but also across other regions in India due to its exceptional flavours. Dishes like Murgh Makhhani, Chicken Tikka Masala, Tandoori Chicken, Rogan Josh, Malai Kofta, Palak Paneer, Rajma Chawal etc are the few popular ones. Novotel Imagica Khopoli has its all day dining restaurant, The Square, which serves regional dishes. Amongst them, there are few popular dishes such as Prawns Vapudu, Goan Fish Curry, Missal Pao, Kumbh ki Glauti, Dungaar Mass and so on.”

Neelabh Sahay, Executive Chef, Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences, avers, “Every regional cuisine of India is the best in its own right due to its specialities, delicacies and cooking techniques. But if I have to name one among them, Bengal and its food is by far one of the best food regions in India due to its varied climatic condition.

As per my study and experience in the culinary field, I can say that all regional cuisines are not popular in other regions but there are definitely some dishes which are popular throughout India as well as other countries of the world. Some of those dishes are Tandoori Chicken, Dal Makhni, Idli, Dosa, Samber, Kadhai Paneer, Kadhi, Rajmah, Dhokla and many more.

At our hotel we take pride to serve our Kosha Mangsho (Braised Mutton in Onion and Tomato Gravy), Macher Jhol (Bengali Fish Curry with Vegetables), Sorshe Ilish (Hilsa Fish cooked in Mustard Gravy) and Some vegetarian delights of Bengal such as Aloo Posto, Chorchori, Sona Moonger Dal, Cholar Dal, Dhokar Dalna, Mochar Ghonto, Channar Dalna etc.”

Vikas Singh, Executive Sous Chef, Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai, is of the opinion that every region has its own flavours that plays to its strength and “certain classics f r o m various cuisines are popular all over the country. At Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai we serve authentic regional food at our multi-cuisine Asian restaurant – San:Qi.  We offer a diverse selection of preparations f r o m the Northern frontier and Hyderabadi delicacies that are curated by our specialty Indian chef – Majid Shaikh,” he adds. 

Mayur Ramachandran, Executive Chef, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Bengaluru Racecourse declares, “Each state/region has a lot of unique fare to offer. Though, regions of Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu are more popularly spoken about due to the variety and varied use of Spice.

Due to the availability of raw materials across the regions, regional cuisines have evolved and spread to various regions of the country. Don’t be surprised to find Assamese wild rice, Kashmiri Morels, Rajasthani Mathaniya Chillies or the freshly milled mustard oil f r o m the fields of Punjab at your favorite neighborhood store. Trade has resulted in a lot of movement, of these once difficult to find ingredients.”

Gaurav Anand, Executive Chef, Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway states, “The best food regions of the country are, Lucknowi, Hyderabadi, Maharashtrian, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Bengali, South Indian etc. These comprise of comfort food. I may add they are easily available all over the country mainly due to the fact that that there is ample movement of culinary people f r o m one state to other. In our F&B outlets we serve food f r o m different region as most of our guests are cosmopolitan and they travel a lot. Even our team members are f r o m different part of state.”

Ashvini Kumar, Executive Chef, Four Points by Sheraton, Navi Mumbai, Vashi, declares that all regions have their own cuisines comprising of some unique dishes. “In hotels several regional dishes are popular. We do lot of local food promotions and some of the dishes that are very popular are Chepalapulusu, Mutton Rogan Josh , Malvani Macchi, Goan Fish Curry, Guntur Vankayakura, Subz Kholapuri, Kori Gassi, Meen Moilee, Malabari Prawns, Mutton Vindaloo, Dosakaya Pappu, Gonguramamsam, Ulavacharu, Pindi Chole, Undhiyu, Sev Tamata, Pulihora,  Kersangria, Gatte ki Sabzi, Dal Bati, Dal Pakwan etc.”

Sanjay T Sutare, Chef de Cuisine of Neel - Tote on the Turf, a division of “deGustibus Hospitality Pvt. Ltd., is of the opinion that there is no ‘best region’ that can be singled out. He adds, “Neel carves its niche in the Indian Cuisine sector with a menu that boasts traditional flavours f r o m across the country including Rajasthan, Amritsar, Lucknow, Malwan& Kerala. The cuisine takes a contemporary approach to classic flavour profiles, creating signature dishes that emphasise purity, simplicity, and seasonal flavours.”

Kuldeep, Executive Sous Chef, Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway, affirms, “The best regions for delicious cuisine are, according to me, as follows: 

Awadhi – Lucknow - Famous for its Dum cooking process and rich food. The usage of ittar and blend of spices in the food makes it taste distinctive and out of the world.

Hyderabadi - Andhra - Famous for its Kacche Gosht ki Biryani and the method of cooking they use during the preparations. The slow cooking is the key to their delicious recipes.

Punjabi - Famous for its richness of ingredients used in almost all food preparations.

Kerala - Famous for its seafood and beef preparations and the blend of authentic, fresh home grown spices.  

I would add that regional cuisines have been found to be more popular in other regions then their own regions because it becomes a common cuisine in its own region, consumed by people on a daily basis.”

Dev Bose, Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza Pune City Centre says, “Best food regions is a matter of one’s perception and preference.  For me the Southern part of India can be considered as the best food region in the country.

“Since People are travelling & migrating to other regions due to the expansion of the global economy the regional cuisine is no longer confined only to any particular region.”  

Amit Dash, Executive Chef, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park avers, “According to me the best food regions in the country are Punjab, Lucknow and Hyderabad.  

I would say that regional cuisines are popular not only in their own regions but also in other regions. Punjabi, Lucknowi and Hyderabadi cuisines are, in fact, popular all over the globe. The Westin Pune Koregaon Park’s specialty restaurant, Kangan, presents gourmet Indian cuisine with traditional regional flavours which is popular not only among the local community but also expats.”

Ashish Choudhury, Chef de Cuisine, Hyatt Regency Pune also lists Bengali, Awadhi, Punjabi and South Indian cuisines being popular.  

“Regional cuisines have gained popularity in other regions due to the new fresh and distinctive flavour they have to offer. In fact our new brunch is based on regional cuisines like Bohri, Kerala, Sikkim, etc.” he adds  

Anand Kumar, Executive Chef, Hilton Bangalore Embassy GolfLinks, remarks, “It is difficult to pick which is best as each region has its highlights, but within them, some of the standouts are East Indian and North Indian food. In our F&B outlets we serve, among others, dishes like Kundankaliya, Lucknow and Hyderabad Dum Biryani, Ghee roast Boti, etc. For our buffet we do regional cuisine theme dinner where we serve authentic Indian regional food.” 

Ilandhirai Vadivel , Executive Chef at Radisson Blu Pune Hinjawadi, affirms “I would say Malabar is famous for its cuisine. It is not only very familiar in India but also in countries like UAE and other Arab countries, some of whom eat Malabari Paratha and Chai for their breakfast.”

Nitin Gupta, Director Food & Beverage, Novotel Pune Viman Nagar declares, “Although Indian cuisine is highly regionally specific, there are certain common threads that unite the different culinary practices. Indian cuisine throughout the nation is highly dependent on curries, which are gravy-like sauce or stew-like dishes with meat, vegetables, or cheese, although the particular spice mixtures, degree of liquidity, and ingredients are determined by regional preference. 

Some of the best food regions in the country are Maharashtra, Bengal, and Goa. Among one of the favourite Indian specialties in the world, one, of course, finds the famous “Tandoori”, originating f r o m Punjab.” 

Regional v/s International Cuisines

With so many Indian regional cuisines, do customers visiting F&B outlets in India prefer these cuisines or do they like to order international cuisines like Thai, Vietnamese, etc?  

Neeraj disclosed that as vegetarianism had become a lifestyle in Mumbai and people have become more appreciative of the nutritional value and health quotients, they prefer regional cuisine over international dishes. He adds, “Most regions in India have not been explored and we at Sofitel Mumbai BKC have introduced the home chef series in which housewife’s f r o m different regions are invited to the hotel to curate authentic delicacies f r o m their region which not only adds to women empowerment, but showcases the legacy of their family and region as well.”

Nitin declares, “It is said you can eat more varieties of cuisines in India than the rest of the world together! We call India a multi-faceted country because of the variety of colours symbolising cultural differences, food, festivals, languages, outfits and so on .Some factors that have an influence on a region's cuisine include the area's climate, the trade among different countries, religiousness or sumptuary laws and culinary culture exchange. 

Avinash avers, “Whether one wants to dine on regional cuisine or international one depends on individual taste and preference. At Novotel Imagica Khopoli, we have almost equal proportion of popularity for both international and regional cuisine.”

Saurabh asserts “Regional cuisines are more popular with our diners at Four Points by Sheraton Kochi as we are situated at the IT Hub and we have multi-cultural people living here who have migrated f r o m all over India.”

Anand Kumar too is of the view that regional dishes are more popular. He adds, “Though many of our diners have travelled extensively and eaten cuisines f r o m all parts of the globe, they often choose Indian dishes f r o m our menu as Indian food is flavourful with the perfect balance of tempered spices.”   

Vikas states, “At Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai it is our continued endeavour to bring forth the finest best-in-class culinary experiences to our guest through the various food and beverage offerings we serve. Catering to the discerning Four Seasons guest’s discerning palate; we offer both regional Indian and international cuisines that our guests can choose f r o m.  Both regional and international cuisines like Chinese, Thai and Japanese are equally popular with our diners.”

Vilas disclosed that though most of the clientele at Grand Mercure Bangalore comprised of Europeans, it was found that several of them wanted to experience local cuisine. Thus there was an equal demand for international as well as Indian cuisine.

Anil affirms, “While international cuisine is today accessible and available everywhere, regional cuisine still has a stronger impact and hold in the hotelier competition. We have seen that diners prefer regional cuisine over international cuisine on various occasions because of which we, at Grand Mercure Mysuru, emphasise more on food festivals based around regional cuisines.” 

Mayur maintains “Indian Food is rated highly and equally loved by travelers to our country. Explorers have realized we are a vast country and have plenty to offer beyond a few dishes that international cuisine has to offer.” 

Ashvini Kumar disclosed that at Four Points by Sheraton Navi Mumbai, Vashi they did a lot of food promotion activities for regional cuisine which was not only patronized by the house guests but also by walk-in guests. “Recently, we have done Thai food promotion and also ‘Around Asia in 7 days’. I find that regional as well as international cuisines are popular.” 

Kuldeep concurs and adds, “This is because the usage of Spices and cooking method used in Indian cuisines make the food more distinct in flavors and the Indian food is not just Food for guests nowadays but it’s more of an Experience and we, at Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway, are giving them the best of Experience at our Hotel.”

Dev too feels that regional cuisine wins over international one. He adds, “Even international travelers prefer Indian regional cuisine because they travel to India & want to taste the flavor and aroma of various Indian dishes. Regional cuisine always remains a hidden treasure for all travelers. 

Amit concurs and says, “Our guests want to try the local ingredients and want to taste the authenticity of the regional dishes of India as well as explore more varieties of authentic & traditional delicacies in the country.”

Ashish is of a similar view. “Local produce is a new way ahead and the trend of regional cuisine will gain popularity even more in the coming years. These cuisines are still new and very refreshing for the new palate. Guests these days understand the value of local produce and its importance in terms of both taste and health,” he says.

Ilandhirai is also of the view that homely food is more preferred as compared to international cuisine. 

Neelabh says “As Novotel Kolkata Hotel & Residences is one of the largest business hotels in Eastern India we get different groups of clients; some come for the conference, some for leisure and some long stayers. I must confess here that our regional cuisine is most popular within the leisure group and the long stayers. The main reason behind this is that leisure group comes to explore the region and they generally want to satisfy their palate with local varieties of delicacies.”
 

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