The best way to experience the breadth of Indian food is through the country’s many vibrant food festivals. From the coastal cuisine of Goa to the royal dishes of Lucknow, each region offers its own unique blend of spices, cooking techniques and specialities.
The food of India is as diverse as her people, shaped by a rich history and varied landscape. From the coastal cuisine of Goa to the royal dishes of Lucknow, each region offers its own unique blend of spices, cooking techniques and specialities. The best way to experience the breadth of Indian food is through the country’s many vibrant food festivals.
Hornbill Festival - Nagaland
Typically celebrated in early December annually, the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland is a celebration of the diverse Naga tribes that call this northeastern state home. The food at the festival reflects the unique culinary traditions of the Nagas, with dishes like smoked pork and fermented soya bean. Don’t miss out on the Naga Dim, a tangy pork curry cooked with local herbs and spices, or the Naga Fish Curry made with freshwater fish and coconut milk. For something sweet, try the Naga Cake, a traditional steamed cake made from rice flour. The festival also features cultural performances, craft exhibitions, and sports competitions showcasing the rich heritage of the Nagas.
Food and Cultural Festival - Goa
Goa, known for its sun-kissed beaches and laid-back lifestyle, hosts the Goa Food and Cultural Festival, every year in December. This five-day event is a celebration of the state’s unique blend of Indian and Portuguese cuisines. The festival offers a wide variety of local and international cuisines, cooking classes, and culinary competitions. The event also features cultural performances and live music. The festival is a seafood lover’s paradise, with dishes like Prawn Balchão, a fiery prawn pickle, and Goan Fish Curry, a coconut-based curry that is a staple in Goan households. Be sure to try the Bebinca, a layered dessert that is a Goan speciality.
International Mango Festival - Delhi
The Delhi International Mango Festival, held every July, is a celebration of the king of fruits - the mango. The festival showcases a variety of mangoes from around the world and is organized by the Delhi Tourism Board in collaboration with the Delhi Government.
National Street Food Festival - Delhi
This festival, organized by Travelkhana, is a celebration of India's vibrant street food culture. It is held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and features a wide array of street foods, from spicy momos and fresh pizzas to delicious chhole bhature and spicy golappas. The festival attracts food enthusiasts from all over the world, making it a melting pot of diverse culinary experiences. It's a must-visit for anyone who loves exploring different flavours and cuisines.
Navi Mumbai Food Truck Festival - Maharashtra
The Navi Mumbai Food Truck Festival, held annually in Navi Mumbai, offers a unique dining experience. The festival features food trucks, pop-up restaurants, and street vendors, providing a chance to try a variety of dishes.
Mei-Ramew Food Festival - Meghalaya
Organized by the North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society, this festival is a celebration of local food and biodiversity. Most of the food comes from the forest and is grown locally in Meghalaya. It's a great opportunity to try authentic Meghalayan delicacies and learn about local food practices and biodiversity.
The Grub Fest - Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru
The Grub Fest is one of the largest food festivals in India, held in New Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru and Mumbai. It's not just a food festival, but a complete gastronomic experience. Renowned chefs from popular restaurants come together to serve foodies with the best of their cuisine. The festival also includes music performances, food markets, and cooking workshops, making it a perfect blend of food and entertainment.
Asian Hawkers Food Festival - Delhi
This is a unique food festival that celebrates Asian cuisine. The three-day festival features a variety of dishes including dim sum, sushi rolls, tempura, stir-fries, and seafood dishes. It's a great opportunity to explore international cuisine, including Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese cuisines.
Poush Mela - West Bengal
West Bengal’s Poush Mela is a harvest season celebration. The festival features traditional Bengali sweets like Pitha, a type of rice cake, and Payesh, a creamy rice pudding. Also, try the Shorshe Ilish, a hilsa fish curry made with a mustard sauce, and the Mishti Doi, a sweet yoghurt dessert.
Bengaluru Food Fete - Karnataka
This festival brings together different bars, restaurants, and food trucks in one place, giving them an opportunity to showcase and promote their dishes. It also features entertainment factors such as comedy shows, dance performances, and live music performances.
Remember these food festivals are subject to local timings and depend on the organising states; make sure to check the time and date before you choose to visit. These food festivals celebrate the simple pleasures and deep joys that Indian cuisine brings. So take your time, sample widely and enjoy the process as much as the dishes themselves. You may return home with more than just fond memories – you’ll have experienced, if only for a moment, the heart and soul of Indian culture through its hearty, flavourful cuisine.