Exploring the Culinary Delights of India’s Hill Stations

‘Mountains are calling, and we must go’. This famous quote is an inspiring mantra for each mountain lover to pack their bags and leave for another trip to the hills. India is naturally blessed with some of the most beautiful and stunning mountainous regions in the world, most prominently, the mighty Himalayas, which run through the northern part of India and have a rich and diverse culinary culture

Whether the Hills in Northeast India or the western ghats running up to south India, numerous picturesque hill stations offer a serene atmosphere and an ideal climate for food explorations. Most mountain enthusiasts can testify to the unique allure of dining amidst the breathtaking scenery of the hill stations, making the trip all the more satisfying. 

Regional Cuisines Of The Himalayas 

In the cold weather of Kashmir, enjoying the luscious meaty Wazwan is a dream for many gastronomes. The fragrant Roganjosh and Kormas of Kashmir are best enjoyed with piping hot steamed rice, crispy and juicy Tabakmaas, and the spicy and wobbly sticks of Seekh Kebabs, paired with chutneys made out of walnuts and radish. Kashmiri cuisine is among India's most sought-after gastronomic experiences and is considered one of the finest cuisines from the Himalayan region.   

No trip to the Himalayas is complete without indulging in the delicious Tibetan cuisine. Tibetan Dumplings, known as ‘Momo’, are a culinary sensation in India and are stuffed with various fillings such as chicken, meat or vegetables. Momo can be steamed, deep-fried, or pan-fried., and is served with hot and spicy chutney. The ultimate momo-eating experience lies in the hilly regions of the Himalayas, where they are prepared using authentic recipes and ingredients. 

Many Himalayan hill stations, such as Dharamshala, Manali, Ladakh, Gangtok, and Darjeeling have numerous Tibetan restaurants that offer a wide range of delectable Tibetan dishes. A must-try meal combination in the Himalayan region is momo, served with a hot bowl of Tibetan soup such as Thukpa or Thenthuk. This delicious meal will not only satisfy your taste buds but also warm you up in the chilly mountain weather. 

Enjoy a delicious Himachali Siddu or an expansive Himachali Dham (traditional Himachali Meal) as you explore this beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh. Lip Smacking chaat dishes in Uttarakhand, or the quintessential dhaba meals on the mountainous highways offering Rajma Chawal, Kadhi Chawal, Parathas, Dal, Rotis, Sabzis and more, the indigenous cooking styles and ingredients shine through as you explore the Himalayan regions for its fantastic cuisines. 

Street Food 

The pleasure of indulging in street food grows multifold in the hill stations. Enjoying the crispy Aloo Chops on Darjeeling’s Chowrasta, or relishing the tender roast Pork at Shillong’s Police Bazaar, Sweet and Piping hot mini Gulab Jamuns on Manali’s Mall Road, or Shimla’s famous Kulcha Chole gives all food lovers a burst of flavour as they enjoy the delectable street food while taking in the beautiful scenery of the mountains. 

Cafes And Bakeries 

Laidback cafes are a common sight in most hill stations, serving various beverages such as coffee, herbal tea, and juices and a mix of Indian and international dishes. It may not come as a surprise to find a pizzeria in the tiny hamlet of McLeod Ganj, but what will amaze pizza lovers is the delicious taste and use of fresh ingredients in the pizza. A German bakery in Manali offers delectable baked goods, such as cinnamon rolls and banana bread, perfect for breakfast or an on-the-go energy boost while hiking through the woods. Visiting bakeries in the hills is an unmissable gastronomical experience, where one can enjoy warm apple pie, pineapple pastry, and a cup of hot coffee or a croissant. Those who have visited Glenary’s in Darjeeling would undoubtedly agree with this. 


Kalimpong, a beautiful hill station near Darjeeling in West Bengal, is known for its delicious semi-hard cheese made from cow's milk. Meanwhile, the Tibetan Yak cheese is a unique experience because of its hard and crumbly texture. You can easily find it in Ladakh or Dharamshala. On the other hand, Jammu's Kalari cheese is a soft, stretched curd cheese with a texture similar to mozzarella but has a distinct flavour. This cheese is often used to make a delectable dish called Kalari Kulcha, where it's stuffed in the dough, flavoured with Indian spices, and cooked over a tawa. Whether you are a cheese aficionado or simply enjoy trying new flavours, the hills of India offer a lot to explore. Make sure to add these cheeses to your list of must-tries while discovering the stunning hill stations. 

South India 

If you are a food lover, the South Indian hill stations of Wayanad, Ooty, and Kodaikanal are your must-visit destinations. Apart from the usual cafes, bakeries, and street food, you can explore the delicious regional cuisines at many small messes and food joints. 

The southern states of India are known for their abundant spice plantations and age-old traditional recipes. The food culture in the hills reflects the unique lifestyle of the hill dwellers in South India. By dining at one of the authentic food places that offer regional cuisines, you can gain a deeper understanding of the local food and its significance. 

In the culinary-rich region of Coorg, the beautiful hill slopes provide an ideal location for growing many unique ingredients that form the backbone of the delicious Coorgi cuisine, making it highly respected for its superior taste. One of the signature dishes of Coorgi cuisine is the Pandi Curry, a pork curry traditionally served with Kadambattu or Akki Roti. This combination is a must-try for anyone looking to experience the culinary pleasures of Coorg. 

A trip to this region is incomplete without a visit to the coffee estates. Ainmane or the Big Cup Café in Madikeri are popular spots to enjoy the depth of flavour that Coorgi coffee carries. The romantic weather of this nature-rich region adds to the overall charm of the experience. 


Mahabaleshwar is a popular hill destination in Maharashtra, known for its lush greenery and stunning landscapes. One of the must-try experiences while in Mahabaleshwar is indulging in the plump and fresh strawberries with cream, which is truly a decadent treat. For delicious pizzas and sandwiches, head to Mapro Gardens, and don't miss the chance to sample the street food sold by various vendors, including corn on the cob, pakodas, chaat, and chai, which adds to the culinary highlight of your trip to this mesmerizingly beautiful hill station in the Western Ghats. 

Indian Teas 

Savouring the exquisite teas from the gardens of Darjeeling, Munnar, Assam, or the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh is an experience to cherish in the hilly regions of India. Whether you prefer Butter tea in Ladakh or Noon chai in Kashmir, the diversity of tea culture in India is truly fascinating. In the chilly weather of Kashmir, a steaming cup of saffron-flavoured Kahwa is a must-have for true tea enthusiasts. 

Across the hilly regions of India, a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices flourish. The unique cooking styles found throughout the various Indian hilly states make for a delightful exploration for any food lover. These local ingredients add a distinct flavour from traditional dishes to more modern fusion cuisine. 

As popular hill destinations continue to attract international tourists, restaurants serving a range of international cuisines such as Japanese, Israeli, Italian, Korean, and more, have become increasingly prevalent. Food enthusiasts can now savour various culinary delights from around the world while enjoying the scenic beauty of India's hill regions. 

Exploring the hills of India is an enchanting experience that combines the beauty of nature, diverse cultures, and unique culinary traditions. Visitors can immerse themselves in a relaxed and pleasurable atmosphere while enjoying the delicious food. The hills of India truly are a paradise for foodies and nature lovers alike. 

If you're a food enthusiast, the culinary journey through the hills of India is a must-do experience. From the rich and diverse culinary culture of the Himalayan regions, including Kashmiri Wazwan, Tibetan Momos, and Himachali Dham, to the unique regional cuisines of the South Indian hill stations, with their traditional recipes and spice plantations, you'll find a plethora of flavours to satisfy your palate. 

Whether you're looking for street food or high-end cafes, the hills of India have something to offer for everyone. So, pack your bags, and get ready for an immersive gastronomic journey while taking in the stunning scenery of the mountains. The mountains are calling. Are you ready to go? 

Sidharth Bhan Gupta, Founder of 361 Degrees Hospitality, is a Hospitality / Food and Beverage / Restaurant Consultant, Travelling across India on a Cultural and Culinary Exploration.