Every Indian foodie has either tried or wants to try classic dishes like Bikaneri Bhujia, Chettinad Chicken, Dharwad Peda, Calcutta Biryani, Agra Petha etc. that are named after the towns and cities where they were first made in. But did you know there are many other little-known delicacies that are inextricably linked to the places they originated from?
Here’s a look at some of these delectable not-to-be-missed dishes that can be traced back to a spot on the Indian map.
1. Thoothukudi Macaroon
Around the world, macaroons are usually flat and filled with chocolates, coconut or almonds. In seaport of Thoothukudi (earlier called Tuticorin), it is stuffed with cashew crumbles and has a unique shape – a cone with pointed peak, bulging middle and a gently rounded base. Made of just three ingredients (eggs, cashew nuts and sugar), this lip-smacking confection is traditionally baked in brick ovens.
2. Mahim Halwa
Also known as Bombay Ice Halwa, Mahim Halwa is a translucent, flaky sheet of delight sold by several shops in Mahim’s Kapad Bazaar (in Mumbai). It is made by spreading a viscous mixture (made of ghee, wheat extract, sugar and saffron) on long wooden planks till the layer is leaf-thin. After a light sprinkling of fry fruits, the halwa is transferred onto butter paper.
3. Ramassery Idli
A flatter version of the idli (similar to a mini dosa), the Ramassery Idli is fluffy, spongy and totally yummy when served with chutney and podi (a fragrant powder of pepper, red chillies, black gram and roasted rice). In the village of Ramassery (near Palakkad in Kerala), this unique idli is still made using the age-old technique — a batter of rice, black gram, fenugreek and salt is ladled into hollow-bottomed clay steamers, covered with a wet cloth and steamed inside a pot placed on a fireplace.
4. Bandel Cheese
This unique variety of cheese gets its name from Bandel, a small town 50 km north of Kolkata. With a smoky aroma, crumbly texture and a salty flavour that’s reminiscent of pretzels, this delicious cheese tastes great when sprinkled over salads and pastas. It comes in small rounds and is available in two varieties, plain white and smoked brown.
5. Indori Poha
Light, mild and bursting with flavours, Indori poha is served with scrumptious garnish of crunchy missal, sliced onions, fennel seeds and ruby-red pomegranate seeds. A signature breakfast dish of Indore, it is usually enjoyed with freshly made jalebis. The combination may sound odd but it tastes great!
6. Arcot Makkan Peda
A paradise for foodies with a sweet tooth, Arcot in Tamil Nadu is renown for its Makkan Peda that is believed to have originated in the royal kitchens of the Nawab of Arcot. While it closely resembles a gulab jamun in appearance, it differs in having tiny bits of mixed nuts embedded in a soft syrup-soaked centre. And yes, it tastes just as good as it looks!
7. Allahabad Cake
This scrumptious, spiced fruit cake is a much-loved member of Allahabad’s edible legacy. Made to perfection during Christmas at Bushy’s on Kanpur Road (54-year-old bakery that has a cult status in the city), this cake is made using ghee, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, marmalade and something colloquially called ‘cake ka jeera’.
8. Narsobawadi Basundi
A heartwarmingly rich concoction made, Narsobawadi basundi is made by boiling cardomom-flavoured sweetened milk on a low heat until the milk is reduced by half. Hailing from the town of Narsobawadi in Maharashtra, this sweet treat is usually served with a dash of almond slivers and charoli seeds.
9. Moradabadi Dal
Made of moong dal, this culinary gem first came to prominence when Prince Murad Baksh (the third son of Shah Jahan) established the city of Moradabad in 1625. Slow-cooked over a low flame, this slightly sweet, velvety dal is served with a deliciously spicy garnish of amchur, black salt, chopped onions, coriander and green chillies.
10. Manapparai Murukku
Neither sweet nor spicy but unfailingly delicious, the crunchy, cracker-like Manapparai murukku is made from butter, rice flour and roasted Bengal gram. The locals of Manapparai (a town near Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu) believe that its the water in the area, a special way of kneading and the double frying technique that make this signature snack different from the other versions of murukku (also called chakli) found across the country.