Cuisines of India
Trip Code: AITCOI
Price: from AU$8,350 per person
Prices are valid until 30 September 2016, excluding the Christmas / New Year period.
Please contact us for a detailed itinerary and current prices.
- Accommodation based on 2 people sharing a double or twin room with breakfast
- Air-conditioned Toyota Innova with English speaking driver for all transfers, touring and sightseeing as per the itinerary
- Train tickets in best available class for Delhi to Lucknow and Alleppey to Tellicherry
- Special meals and cooking classes as mentioned in the itinerary
- English speaking local guides in Delhi, Lucknow, Cochin and Madurai
- Entrance fees to monuments in each city
- In Kolkata: walking tour with Calcutta Walks
- In Chennai: ‘Spice Trail’ walk with Story Trails
- Assistance on arrival and departure at airports and train stations
- 24 hour support through our local representative offices
- Complimentary mineral water in the vehicles
- All land and vehicle taxes
- Camera fees at sightseeing places
- Activities other than those specifically mentioned as included
- Meals other than those mentioned as included
- Tips, porterage and personal expenses
- Visa Fees
- Flights: Lucknow to Kolkata; Kolkata to Chennai; Chennai to Cochin; and Calicut to Mumbai: AUD$770 approximately
Delhi: The Claridges
Lucknow: Gomti Nagar
Kolkata: The Oberoi Grand
Chennai: GRT Grand
Cochin: Eighth Bastion
Alleppey: Lakes & Lagoons Houseboat
Tellicherry: Ayisha Manzil
Mumbai: Taj Mahal Palace
Aimed at food lovers, this wide-ranging itinerary showcases some of India’s many varied cuisines.
This is an ideal itinerary for people who love food and occasionally like to cook it. It gives you the opportunity to sample a wide range of cuisines, some of which are known around the world and others that are hardly known of beyond the communities from which they originate.
With an emphasis on authenticity, you’ll eat in settings that match the food, from quick street snacks in chaotic Old Delhi (if you are willing) to home-style Bengali food in a Kolkata home, to regal Awadhi food in a restored Nawab’s haveli in Lucknow. There are a couple cooking demonstrations included in the standard itinerary; these are intended to enhance your appreciation of the food rather than teach you how to cook it (however, you’ll learn several dishes if you want to).
Some of the cuisines which are featured include Punjabi and Nihari in Delhi; Awadhi in Lucknow; Bengali in Kolkata; Chettinadu and Brahmin Tamil in Chennai; Syrian Christian in Cochin; Mappila from the Malabar region in Tellicherry; and Konkan, Maharashtrian and/or Gujarati in Mumbai.
• We can customise the itinerary to include more hands-on cooking classes.
• We can add dining at acclaimed restaurants such as Bukhara and Spice Route in Delhi, Oh! Calcutta in Kolkata and The Raintree in Chennai.
• Activities such as visits to commercial kitchens and interactive sessions with chefs can be arranged for F&B professionals (chefs, food writers and restaurateurs, etc).
Day 1 Delhi
You will be met at the airport on arrival in Delhi and transferred to your hotel.
Day 2 Delhi
This morning you will be taken to visit the medieval Jama Mosque, followed by a short walking tour of Old Delhi where you’ll visit traditional businesses now managed by the sixth and seventh generation families of their founders. Whilst discovering Old Delhi you can stop at the famous Karim’s Restaurant for a nihari breakfast (a stew of slow cooked beef or lamb) as well as sampling some of the area’s many street snacks.
In the afternoon explore New Delhi, including visits to Qutab Minar and Humayun’s Tomb and drive past Lutyens’ Delhi. Later in the evening you will be taken to a Punjabi restaurant for dinner.
The people of Punjab love to eat, and this is reflected in their delicious, hearty regional cuisine. So delicious is Punjabi fare that it has not just wowed Indians all over the country but also the world at large; in fact, people in the West often identify Indian cuisine with Punjabi food (for example, Butter Chicken and Tandoori Chicken).
Punjabi cuisine is mainly based on wheat, spices and pure ghee (clarified butter) and uses liberal amounts of butter and cream. This rich food is suited to the traditional Punjabi lifestyle in which many people are (or were) engaged in farm work, burning calories while working in the fields.
A striking feature of the cuisine of Punjab is pulses or dals, cooked on a slow fire and flavoured with characteristic Punjabi tadka (a spice garnish added toward the end of the preparation). The gravy of most dishes is prepared using the basic mix of onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, chillies and a liberal dose of spices. Sarson Da Saag, Makki Di Roti and stuffed paranthas are some other popular dishes of this cuisine. [Image: kspodder].
Day 3 Lucknow
A morning fast train will take you to Lucknow. After settling in to your hotel, enjoy a tour of Lucknow city – visit the beautiful Bara Imambara built by Asaf-ud-Daula in the year 1784 and the Residency, which played an important role in the history of the region during the rebellion of 1857.
In the evening you’ll be taken to a Nawab’s Haveli (traditional home of a local ruler) where you will be served the famous local cuisine, Awadhi. The recipes of many of the dishes prepared for dinner would have been passed down from the forefathers of the Nawab’s family.
The rich Awadhi cuisine of the Lucknow region was made popular by the Nawab of Awadh who, in order to deal with food shortages, ordered his men to cook food in huge handis (vessels). This eventually led to a style of cooking called dum – the art of sealing ingredients in large handi and cooking over a slow fire – the style of which you can see reflected in the relaxed outlook and attitude of the people of the region. The most well known Awadhi preparations are galouti kababs, boti kababs and biryani. [Image: Miansari66].
Day 4 Lucknow
Enjoy a leisurely morning. At around noon you will be collected from your hotel and taken for a walk through the streets and galis (laneways) where Lucknow’s famous street food abounds – particularly its well-known barbeque tikka and kebabs. Lunch will be at Tunda’s Kebabs, which is one of the city’s most popular food outlets. The remainder of the day is free – you may like to do some exploration on your own. [Image: Mumbeenk02].
Day 5 Kolkata
Transfer to the airport this morning for a flight to Kolkata. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel.
This afternoon, a walk through a local market will familiarise you with the ingredients that go into authentic Bengali food. Following this you will be taken for a cooking demonstration and dinner at a traditional Bengali home.
Bengali food is characterized by the use of mustard oil and five basic spices: zeera (cumin), kalaunji (nigella), saunf (fennel), methi (fenugreek) and sarson (mustard seeds). Fresh water fish is also a feature. Bengali sweets such as rasgulla and sandesh are popular all over the world. [Image: Amartyabag].
Day 6 Kolkata
This morning you will be collected from your hotel and taken to Chinatown for a Chinese breakfast. Here the whole family takes part in preparing dishes; you will be able to observe the preparation of tai pao and yeo teow. Mee gao pan takes long hours of grinding rice to prepare.
In the afternoon you can take a guided sightseeing tour or enjoy one of our many Insight Activities. [Image: Calcutta Walks].
Day 7 Chennai
This morning transfer to the airport for a flight to Chennai. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Remainder of the day at leisure.
In the evening visit a speciality restaurant to experience unique Chettinadu cuisine.
The Chettinad cuisine of Tamil Nadu has transcended the boundaries of the state to carve out a worldwide following. This cuisine stands out from other Tamil food in that it is mainly non-vegetarian; it uses a variety of sun dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region.
It’s also distinctive for its use of a variety of spices – a majority of dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas. The most important spices are marathi mokku (dried flower pods), anasipoo (star aniseed) and kalpasi (dried bark). In addition, tamarind, whole red chillies, saunf (fennel seeds), cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, peppercorn and cumin seeds are widely used.
Most of the dishes are eaten with rice and rice-based accompaniments such as dosas, appams, iddiappams, adais and idlis. [Image: Yashima].
Day 8 Chennai
Take a sightseeing tour of Chennai or a guided market walk. (There are a variety of walks to choose from with themes such as Bazaar Trail, Spice Trail and Jewellery Trail).
For lunch you will be taken to a popular local food outlet where you will sample traditional Tamil Brahmin Cuisine (South Indian vegetarian).
Tamil Brahmin Cuisine
Tamil Brahmin cuisine is based on the concept that food shapes the personality, mood and mind. In a Brahmin household food is always cooked with a great deal of attention to cleanliness and to the balancing of nutrition, flavour, texture and variety.
Different spices play important roles in dishes. For instance, fenugreek as a digestive aid, pepper for colds and coughs, dried legumes and beans as nature’s tiny capsules of proteins, turmeric as a healer and cumin for its multiple uses. Thus, every ingredient has a purpose that goes beyond taste and texture.
Rice and dal is usually the staple diet, together with dishes cooked on the griddle such as dosas, thin broth-like dals called sambar. Tamil Brahmin cuisine is also known for its heavy use of ‘kari‘ leaves, tamarind and coconut. [Image: Sanjay Acharya].
Day 9 Cochin
Transfer to the airport this morning for a flight to Cochin; you will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon take a sightseeing tour of Fort Kochi, including the Dutch Palace, Chinese fishing nets and St Francis Church.
Day 10 Cochin
This morning enjoy a cooking class with highly regarded cook and author, Nimmy Paul. Nimmy will host you at her home – a lovely bungalow in a leafy back street – with a personalised cooking demonstration in her outdoor kitchen set in a large garden. She will explain a range of dishes, which you will then eat for lunch – this is a traditional sadhya, which comprises several dishes served on a banana leaf. ‘Sadhya’ is the word for banquet in Malayalam, and is typically prepared for marriages and festivals. [Image: Nimmy Paul].
Day 11 Alleppey
Depart Cochin this morning for the 2-hour drive to Alleppey, where you board a houseboat for an afternoon cruise and overnight stay. Whilst cruising through the backwaters of Kerala you will have an opportunity to interact with your on-board cook who will prepare traditional Keralan food.
Day 12 Tellicherry
After breakfast, disembark the houseboat and transfer to Alleppey station to board a train to Tellicherry, a small coastal town in North Kerala. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your accommodation, Ayisha Manzil. Remainder of the day will be at leisure.
You can discover the rich flavours of traditional North Kerala cuisine here. Your hostess, Ms Faiza Moosa, who is a well-known expert on Mappila cuisine, serves unique dishes for each meal. A stay at Ayisha Manzil is a must for any food tour of India.
Day 13 Tellicherry
Today Ms Faiza will demonstrate the preparation of several Mappila dishes.
The Mappilas are a Muslim community of Kerala, with a large population residing in the Malabar region of North Kerala. They trace their roots to Arabs who traded with the Malabar region from as early as the 4th century BC, many settling there. With the advent of Islam, a steady flow of both Muslims and Syrian Christians from the Middle East to Malabar influenced the Mappila community – and their cuisine. Today you’ll learn more about the many influences that give Mappila food its unique character.
There are some specific dishes worth mentioning here. Fried rice, called neichoru, was earlier a delicacy meant for special occasions. This dish has now graduated into biryani. The Mappila style has developed many variants of the biryani, some of which are quite spicy. Aleesha is totally Arab in origin. It is a thick porridge of wheat and lamb meat or chicken generally garnished with ghee and usually eaten with sugar. Another Mappila speciality is the Mutta Mala, literally “egg garland”, made from pure egg yolk and cooked in sugar syrup. By and large Mappilas are non vegetarians. Fish is a much relished item on the menu and is prepared in a variety of ways.
Remainder of the day at leisure (there are many pretty beaches in the area and sunset over the Arabian Sea is always spectacular).
Day 14 Mumbai
Today you will be driven to Calicut airport – a 2-hour journey – for a flight to Mumbai. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel.
Later in the evening you will be taken to Trishna Restaurant for dinner. A seafood speciality restaurant serving coastal cuisine, Trishna is particularly famous for its crab preparations. It also serves prawn koliwada (batter-fried prawns) and pomfret Hyderabadi (a local fish barbecued with a coating of freshly ground pepper). [Image: Trishna Restaurant].
Day 15 Mumbai
Enjoy a sightseeing tour of Mumbai this morning.
For lunch you have several options, one of which is the famous Café Leopold’s. This is one of the oldest cafés in Mumbai and is a popular hangout for travellers and locals alike, known for its relaxed ambiance, great food and reasonably priced drinks.
Alternatively your guide can take you on a local train to a suburb of Mumbai called Dadar, where you can try Konkan (Goan) or Maharashtrian (Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra state) food.
Return to your hotel and remainder of the day is at leisure. [Image: G O’Beirne].
Day 16 Mumbai
Transfer to the airport for departure – or to one of our recommended R&R locations.
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