Flavours of IndiaThe cuisine in India is as vast and wide ranging as its multi ethnic culture. The delicious and the exotic dishes of India are marked by the subtle uses of spices and herbs. Indian cuisines vary from region to region. India is proud to serve the most diverse and varied cuisine in the world – and here in Doha, we have a slew of restaurants offering Indian cuisine.

Below, we help you better understand what’s what in Indian cuisine to help you choose a dish that will satisfy your palette. At the end of this feature, you’ll find a list of independent Indian restaurants that we at Marhaba have discovered across the city and loved! 

Every region in the country has their own delicacies and unique way of cooking. The style of cooking, flavour and dishes change with the landscape. Indian cuisines are primarily vegetarian, though  Indians enjoy a variety of non-vegetarian delicacies cooked out of fish, lamb, goat, chicken and other meats. Food has always been important to the culture of India.

East Indian Cuisine
The eastern region of India consists of states like Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. Rice is the staple food in this region. Due to a favourable climate, eastern India grows a lot of rice. Being available in abundance in the rivers and ponds in this region, fish is also a staple in the east.

Doi Ilish or Hilsa

Hilsa (right) is the most popular fish in eastern India. Mostly available during the monsoons, this fish is famous for its wonderful taste. Several delicacies are made of Hilsa, and well as other popular varieties of fish like: Rohu, Vetki, etc., which are sure to tickle your tastebuds.

Plenty of vegetables are also grown in this part of India. Vegetables form a substantial part of Eastern Indian meals. The spices used in their cuisine are also markedly different from those used in the other parts of India.

Sweets are a striking feature in Eastern Indian cuisine. In West Bengal, Rasgulla is a fantastic delicacy that has earned global acclaim. Also popular is Mishti Dhai (sweetened yogurt).

West Indian Cuisine
Geographical heterogeneity has given rise to a variety of dishes in the western part of India. Varying landscapes from arid deserts to wet coastal lands have contributed to the versatility of cuisine here. At the same time, western India is a melting pot of several races and traditions. So various influences are seen in its variety of dishes.

Rice is the staple food of western India, though wheat, bajra and jowar are also consumed in regions such as in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

In Gujarat and of course Mumbai you will find Parsi influences in the cuisine. Vegetarian dishes like pav bhaji, bhel puri and dhokla are a gourmet’s delight. Due to the concentration of Jains in Gujarat, the state excels in vegetarian cuisine with the subtle use of spices and rich texture.Lobster in Peri Peri

In the coastal areas of Maharashtra and Goa, seafood is available in abundance – marinated in tantalising spices these dishes are afoodie’s delight. Goa, with its signature Portuguese influence, has especially won the heart of food lovers with it’s varied and delightful seafood.

The food of Rajasthan is rich in spices and if you can brave a little spice, you will enjoy Rajasthani cuisine.

North Indian Cuisine
North Indian cuisine is largely influenced by the Mughal style of cooking. In their nearly 500 years of rule over India, they contributed a lot to Indian cuisine among other things. Since the Mughals were originally from central Asia, the cuisine bears much similarity to the central Asian style of cooking.

North Indian Mutton CurryAbundant butter based curries and the use of dried fruits and nuts are striking features of north Indian cuisine. Wheat that grows profusely in northern India forms the larger portion of a north Indian meal. Contrary to most of the rest of India where rice is the staple food, north India lives on roti, chappatis, and paratha all made from wheat.

Lots of oil, ghee, and butter along with rich spices are used as the medium for cooking which give north Indian food a strong, rich flavour.

Meat also enjoys a special place in north Indian cuisine. A variety of kebabs and biriyani (a tantalising marinade of rice and meat) bear witness to the Mughal legacy.

Samosa is possibly the most popular snack in north India. Lassi is a refreshing beverage made from curd/yogurt. Gulab Jamun, Motichur Laddoo are popular sweets of this region. Some delicious north Indian dishes are Reshmi Kebab, Seekh Kebab, and Shami Kebab, Kashmiri Pulao, Tandoori Chicken and Rogan Gosh to name a few.

South Indian Cuisine
South Indian cuisine is popular in other parts of India. Four different states: Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala constitute of the southern part of India. South Indian cuisine is a vegetarian’s delight. A striking feature in south Indian food is the use of coconut oil. Coconut oil lends food a very special flavour. In most delicacies from these parts, coconut is also used profusely.

Masala DosaRice is the staple food here. Idli, dosa (left), vadas and uttapams, made from rice ground with lentils, are popular south Indian specialties, mostly in Tamil Nadu. Also try spicy, oily and aromatic Chettinad cuisine while you are in Tamil Nadu.

In places like Andhra Pradesh, biriyani prepared from rice and mixed with meat is a masterpiece. The dish has a rich heritage of Mughal association, and is more spicy that it’s North Indian counterpart.

Along the Malabar coast, in places like Kerala, you’ll enjoy fantastic seafood delicacies. The strong aroma of spices is a part of the charm of Malabar cuisine.

Marhaba Picks: Indian restaurants to try in Doha (in no particular order):

  • Spicy Route, Shop 6, Building 16, Barwa Village [4444 9899] Try their Biriyani and Kamala Katori [V/NV]
  • Shamiana at Hyatt Plaza: Try the Veg Combo [V/NV]
  • Aalishan at West Bay petrol station (Various locations) [4412 4413]: Try the Veg Platter and Veg Balti [V/NV]
  • Royal Tandoor, The Pearl-Qatar (Various locations) [4002 0777]:  Try the Dhingri Dolma and Jeera Rice [V/NV]
  • Taz near Babyshop: Try the Dhingri Masala and Veg Biryani [V/NV]
  • Caravan Bukhara, Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex [4440 9614]: Try the Dhal Fry, Sikandari Raan and Gulab Jamun [V/NV]
  • Caravan, Radisson Blu (old Ramada) junction [4465 7711]: Try their buffet lunch  [V/NV]
  • Grill at The Village [4444 6601]: Try their Butter Chicken  [V/NV]
  • MRA Bakery and Restaurant, behind New World Centre, Airport area [4442 2072]: Try their Biriyani, Appam with Chicken Curry, and Chicken Dosa [V/NV]
  • The Garden Village, Bin Omran [4488 5115]: Try their Kerala dishes Malabari  Meen (Fish) Curry and Kozhi Mappas (Chicken Curry) [V/NV]
  • Saravanaa Bhavan, Al Ghanim [44437776]: Try their Ghee Roast and Filter Coffee [V]
  • Aaryas, Al Mansoora [4444 3955]: Mini-tiffin (it is a combo platter of dosa, mini idlis, vada, sambar, chutney, coffee and pongal/upma) [V]
  • Idly Factory, Barwa Village [6646 8553]: Idly Palak (spinach) and Mysore Sada Dosa [V]
  • Saffron Lounge, Katara [4408 0808]: We’re told everything tastes good here! [V/NV]
  • Tandoor Express, Matar Street, Old Airport Area (Various locations) [4462 0100]: Try the Angar Tandoor Chicken [V/NV]
  • Maharaja, Al Asmakh [4442 1642]: Try the Biryani [V/NV]
  • Kebab King, Crazy Signal (Various locations) [4410400]: Try the Biryanis, Arabic Mezza and Romali Roti [V/NV]
  • Star Kebab, Woqod Petrol Station, Najma Street, Al Hilal [5549 1717, 4441 9292]: Their kebabs are a must-have! [V/NV]
  • Asiana, Old Airport Road [4462 6600]: Try the Buffet, Rotis and Tandoori Kebabs  [V/NV]

Author: Sarah Mascarenhas

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