Indian Cuisine has captured the imagination and palate of the world. Food in India is a celebration of its culture, traditions, religion and diversity. Throughout history India has been invaded and occupied by other cultures and each has left its own mark on Indian cuisine. The tour offers an introduction to four unique gastronomically intriguing regions of India – Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and the Punjab.
Some of the predominant influences have been:
- Aryan – which focused on the mind-, body-enhancing properties of foods;
- Persian and Arab – which led to the Mughal style of cooking with rich, thick gravies and the use of dry fruits like cashews and almonds in dishes;
- British – which gave India its love of tea and put the European twist into some dishes. Anglo-Indian cuisine was the delicious result;
- Portuguese – which left its mark on parts of India in the form of dishes like the world-renowned Vindaloo and Xacuti.
Indian cuisine or Indian food encompasses a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India. Given the range of diversity in soil type, climate and occupations, these cuisines vary significantly from each other and use locally available spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Indian food is also heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices.
The development of these cuisines have been shaped by Dharmic beliefs, and in particular by vegetarianism, which is a growing dietary trend in Indian society. There has also been Central Asian influence on North Indian cuisine from the years of Mughal and Turkic Delhi Sultanate rule. Indian cuisine has been and is still evolving, as a result of the nation’s cultural interactions with other societies.
Historical incidents such as foreign invasions, trade relations and colonialism have also played a role in introducing certain foods to the country. For instance, potato, a staple of Indian diet was brought to India by the Portuguese, who also introduced chillies and breadfruit. Indian cuisine has also shaped the history of international relations; the spice trade between India and Europe is often cited by historians as the primary catalyst for Europe’s Age of Discovery. Spices were bought from India and traded around Europe and Asia. It has also influenced other cuisines across the world, especially those from Southeast Asia, the British Isles and the Caribbean.
Day 1: Arrive in Delhi. You are met and transferred to your hotel. Day at leisure visiting local markets and sight seeing. Dinner at Karims. In 1911, Haji Karimuddin established a ‘dhaba’ to feed people coming to view the corontaiton og King George V in Delhi. After the coronation, he established the Karim restaurant which has been described as “synonymous with this area” and “arguably the city’s most famous culinary destination” (Dorling Kindersley 2012). Overnight in Hotel in Delhi
Day 2: Start the day with an early morning visit to local vegetable markets. Come back for breakfast and then starts your first day to learn to cook the famous Indian Curries with a chef. Break for Lunch and sample what you have just made. The cooking continues in the afternoon where you continue to learn indian food with the chef. Overnight in hotel
Day 3: An early start and a 5 hours drive through the Indian countryside and we will arrive in Chambal. At Chambal we will meet Mr. RP Singh and his wife at their home Mela Kothi in Jarar which has been the main seat of the family since 1472. A keen ornithologist and hotelier, RP Singh is a fine cook. Learn traditional family recipes and local specialties prepared using organic produce grown in their farms or from village kitchen gardens. Overnight in Resort
Day 4: In the morning we will go for a river safari on the Chambal River. The Chambal River is a part of the National Chambal Sanctuary which is also famous for its Ravines that form an incredible maze of intertwining mud cliffs. The river is home to the endangered Gharial (Snout nosed alligator), the Mugger, otters and many species of birds including Indian Skimmers. The afternoon would be spent learning cooking from the Singh’s and end with a fabulous meal over a camp fire. Overnight at the Resort
Day 5: morning departure after breakfast for Agra. In the day we visit the Red Fort and Taj Mahal proceed to Bharatpur stopping enroute at Fathehpur Sikri. Dinner and overnight at Bharatpur.
Day 6: After breakfast there is a cooking class teaching traditional cuisine from the state of Bharatpur. After lunch We then take a train at 15:50 arriving at 18:05 at Sawai Madhopur to stay with Dr. Govardhan Singh Rathore at his Hotel Khem Vilas. Govardhan is the son of eminient tiger conservationist Fateh Singh Rathore. At Khem Vilas we will be learning about Indian and especially Rajasthani vegetarian cuisine. Dinner and Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 7: Morning safari into Ranthambore Tiger Reserve one of the most famous remaining habitats of wild tigers in the world. After a 3 hour safari we return to the Hotel for a cooking demonstration by one of the hotel chefs. Evening at leisure with Rajasthani Folk Dances by the bonfire. Dinner and Overnight at Hotel.
Day 8: Another morning safari into the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve to maxmise chances of sighting the elusive tigers. Return to Khem Vilas from where after lunch take a train at 14:35 to arrive at Jaipur at 16:45. At Jaipur we will stay at a family run ancestral hotel. Sightseeing in the evening with a visit to the palaces of the Royal Family and local markets. Return to the hotel for a Traditional Rajasthani Meal for dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 9: Sightseeing to the Amer Fort and a visit to Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar for lunch. In 1727, when by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, founded the new capital city of Jaipur, he invited traders and artists from nearby towns to the newly built city, amongst them were a group of halwais, who set up a small sweet shop in Johri Bazaar. Years later in around, 1949/1950, one of the descendants of these halwais, Maliram Ghodawat, branded this sweet shop, as the Lakshmi Mishthan Bhandar (LMB). The restaurant serves pure vegetarian food and is known for its Rajasthani thali, Dal bati churma, and kulfi. A speciality of LMB is the traditional Rajasthani Sweet called “Ghevar”.
In the afternoon, we visit a family to learn recipes for the traditional “Lal Maas”, a spicy lamb curry, rajasthani bar-be-cue meat or “sula” and traditional breads. After early dinner we leave for the railway station to head for Amritsar, the city of the golden temple in the Punjab.
Day 10: The train arrives at Amritsar at 11:00. We head to the hotel. After lunch and an afternoon at leisure we leave for a famous local restaurant – “Surjit ka dhaba” – featured on the BBC and known for its mouthwatering tandoori food. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11: After a relaxing morning and breakfast, a chef will demonstrate Punjabi food at a cooking class. After the class we leave for a visit to the Golden Temple. The Golden Temple has one of largest kitchens in the world where food is provided to all visitors. The kitchen run by volunteers caters vegetarian meals to between 60000 – 90000 people a day or more on holidays, and is called Guru-ka-langar. Lunch will be at the Golden Temple. After lunch we return to the hotel and then depart by train for Delhi. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 12: After breakfast, we spend the day with a family learning typical north indian cuisine. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 13: Delhi sight seeing in the morning including Humayan’s Tomb, Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s House), India Gate – followed by a ride in the Delhi Metro to the old city – where we will go in cycle rickshaws and shop for masalas, and small utensils and stirrers. Delhi is famous for its street food. The Paranthewali Gali in Chandni Chowk is one of the most famous landmark for stuffed flatbread(Paranthas). In the evening we go to the Red Fort for the Son et Lumiere. After the show we go to the Moti Mahal Delux restaurant in old Delhi. Moti Mahal was first set up in Peshawar(Modern day Pakistan) in undivided India in 1920 by a Punjabi Hindu, Kundan Lal Gujral. Gujral moved to Delhi following the partition of India in 1947 and opened a restaurant in Daryaganj, Delhi. Gujral is known as the inventor of the signature dishes of Indian restaurants, namely Tandoori chicken and Butter chicken. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 14: Departure after breakfast. Transfer to airport for flight back home.