Sundal2. BengaluruIndia’s start-up capital is also home to some of the country’s most innovative restaurant start ups. From Monkey Bar to Permit Room and Toast and Tonic where great food and cocktails are always in the mix and they have raised the ‘bar’ of stand-alone dining in the city to a long line of craft breweries (this is India’s unofficial beer capital after all) like Windmills Craftworks to The Biere Club where the food keeps up with the beer. But it’s not all just new age dining that it is known for, the city’s military hotels (like Ranganna) and traditional vegetarian eateries like Vidyarthi Bhavan and Brahmin’s Coffee Bar counterbalance the culinary mix.3. PondicherryThe city’s location as the perfect quick getaway (with the launch of the East Coast road) from Chennai has altered its culinary credentials. The French traditions were an easy inspiration for restaurants like Rendezvous and Le Club that created the template for a Pondicherry-style French cuisine that Chennaites and French tourists lapped up. It sparked a wave of bistros and cafes that have each scrambled to find their niche including Pondicherry’s own version of Creole. There’s Villa Shanti and Fun (at the Dune resort) that have added quirky touches to the city’s burgeoning dining scene and charming cafes like Le Maison Rose that might momentarily transport you to France.4. KozhikodeVasco da Gama first set foot in India here. You too can unleash the ‘food’ explorer in you in the streets of this fascinating city. Most roads lead to Paragon, home to the city’s most scrumptious Malabar-style biryani. But Kozhikode is more than just its biryani; many restaurants serve the flaky Malabari parotta and there’s the pathiri, a type of rice flour roti that tastes delicious with fish curry. Restaurants like Zain’s and Sagar are flagbearers for the region’s Mapilla cuisine – from Ari Kadukka (mussel dumplings) to traditional favourites like the Pazham Pori (banana fritters), samosas and mutton cutlets. And yes, you can wash it all down with a Sulaimani (black tea) or refreshing Nannari Sherbet.5. HyderabadOne of India’s marquee food destinations where the glorious food traditions of the Nizams still live on. Say biryani and the city’s iconic Paradise restaurant is usually the first stop for most foodies but it doesn’t end there. From the melt-in-your-mouth luqmi – the city’s take on the mutton samosa and a perfect tea time snack or the Osmania biscuits that make an equally compelling case at tea time. Speaking of ‘melt-in-your-mouth’, Hyderabad’s haleem is truly inimitable just like the city’s dessert traditions from Qubani ka Meetha to the ghee sweets at Pulla Reddy.
6. MaduraiChennaites might disagree, but if you want the real taste of Tamil Nadu you have to visit Madurai. Madurai loves its mutton (and offal dishes), traditional restaurants like Amma Mess and Chandran Mess use hand-ground masalas (no factory made masala powders here) to elevate mutton and other meat preparations while the idlis at Murugan Idli shop are as soft as they get. Join the queue at Famous Jigarthanda and sample the city’s clever spin on the falooda and don’t leave town without digging into the excessive yet delish three-layered Kari (mutton) Dosa at Konar Mess.
7. UdupiMight be best known for its ubiquitous masala dose (dosa) but that’s barely the tip of the iceberg. The free meals at the Sri Krishna Temple are a great showcase for the town’s vegetarian culinary credentials; there’s also Mitra Samaj and Woodlands where you can try Udupi snacks like the Buns and the Goli Baje with outstanding filter coffee. Contrary to popular perception, Udupi is not just a hub for vegetarian cuisine. Head to Thamboolam and watch the crispy Kori Roti (made with rice) dissolve in a fiery chicken curry or try Moode (cylindrical idlis) and their signature etty (prawn) chutney. Make the 45-minute trek to Kundapura for Chicken Ghee Roast at Shetty’s Lunch Home or the Kane (Lady fish) Bezule at Sharon’s.About the Author:Ashwin Rajagopalan is a cross cultural training expert and lifestyle writer. When he's not writing about food, he thinks about gadgets, trends and travel experiences. He enjoys communicating across cultures and borders in his weekday work avatar as a content and editorial consultant for a global major and one of India's only cross cultural trainers.Disclaimer:The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.