Friday, May 15, 2009

The Indian Vegetarian 100

In true copycat fashion, here is my list of the 100 Indian vegetarian foods that I think everyone should try at least once in their lives. It is a highly subjective and very eclectic list, featuring what I believe are some unique ingredients, restaurant classics and regional specialties. It demonstrates my biases, because many of my own favorites are in there to the exclusion of other dishes. We are so lucky to be absolutely spoiled for choice while filling this list- India is home to tens of thousands of unique flavors.

I have placed links (don't worry, the links won't be copied when you copy the list) to a picture or a recipe for each food, for someone who may not be familiar with that particular food. I thoroughly enjoying browsing the blogs and flickr looking for suitable pictures. The pictures which thrilled me the most were those depicting the "people behind the food"...the vendors and cooks who earn their humble living by expertly making the foods we crave the most. Hats off to them, and many thanks to the talented bloggers and amateur photographers who document these foods and people for us.

Apart from being a meme to fill a few moments of boredom, I hope this list could be used as a starting point for a traveler looking to try new flavors in India, for us to introduce our non-Indian friends to new foods (as Lavanya suggested) and for home cooks to try and make some of these all-time favorites in our own kitchens.

To all those who shared their own lists in comments on the previous post- thank you! It is fun to see how we keep coming back to the same dishes as perennial favorites. And that many of our favorite foods are simple home-style dishes that never fail to comfort us.

Your challenge, should you take up this meme is to:

  • Copy the entire list, along with these instructions, into your blog post

  • Bold the foods that you have tried

  • Strike out the foods you would never try

  • Tell us your score in the comments :)

  • If you wish to, make your own list or add to this one

Nupur's Indian Vegetarian 100

1. Ripe mangoes
2. Curd rice
3. Chaat
4. Phulka
5. Puran poli
6. Boiled peanuts
7. Samosa
8. Stuffed baby eggplants
9. Aviyal
10. Stuffed paratha
11. Masala chai
12. Tirphal
13. Murukku
14. Curry leaves
15. Banana chips fried in coconut oil
16. Jaggery
17. Vada pav
18. Tender coconut water
19. Paneer
20. Madras filter coffee
21. Boondi laddoo
22. Boondi raita
23. Navratan korma
24. Kokum
25. Masala peanuts
26. A home-cooked Indian vegetarian meal
27. Sugarcane juice
28. Sabudana/sago in any form
29. Horsegram
30. Maggi noodles
31. Podi with rice and ghee
32. Roomali roti
33. Bitter gourd
34. Nylon sev
35. Vegetable biryani
36. Thali at a restaurant
37. Plantain flower
38. Undhiyu
39. Nimbu pani
40. Papad
41. Kotthu parotta
42. Panch phoran
43. Drumsticks
44. Indian "French toast"
45. Sarson ka saag
46. Bhakri
47. Pav bhaji
48. Sitaphal
49. Glucose biscuits
50. Sprouts
51. Chole-bhature
52. Amla
53. Tomato "omelet"
54. A wedding feast
55. Grilled corn on the cob with lemon juice, salt and chilli powder
56. Cadbury's fruit and nut chocolate
57. Sai bhaji
58. Solkadi
59. Indian-Chinese meal
60. Jalebi
61. Black forest cake
62. Bharwa bhindi
63. Kashmiri saffron
64. Misal
65. Ripe jackfruit
66. Idli-chutney
67. 'Tadgola'
68. Bhut jolokia
69. Baby mango pickle
70. Meal off a banana leaf
71. Falooda
72. Moong khichdi
73. Bebinca
74. Daal baati
75. Methi greens
76. Basundi
77. Gunpowder
78. Appam-stew
79. Sweet lemon pickle
80. Ridge gourd
81. Bisi bele bhath
82. Coconut burfi
83. Caramel custard
84. Thecha
85. Rasam
86. Baingan bharta
87. Mysore pak
88. Punjabi wadi
89. Chhunda
90. Dal makhani
91. Paper dosa
92. Gongura
93. Hand-churned butter
94. Pakoda
95. Curd chillies
96. Mustard oil
97. Fresh cashews
98. Tomato pickle
99. Rajma-chawal
100. Chaas

My own score: 95%
I don't remember ever eating horsegram (#29), plantain flower (#37), kotthu paratha (#41), or mustard oil (#95). And I certainly have never tasted bhut jolokia (#68), the newly crowned hottest chilli in the world and currently enjoying fame on the US restaurant scene, I hear.

Next update- in a week or so!


  1. Love the list and especially the maggi noodles :-)

  2. interesting list - i'm intrigued to see tirphal there.
    i've got one recipe that involves tirphal (in a coconut sauce with fish), and i bought a load back when i was last in Mumbai, so i'd like more good ways to use it.

    have you got any favourite recipes that involve tirphal?
    or general hints about how you use it?

  3. Gud score.. and interesting list too! But I dont think cn score more than 80%

  4. Three of my 5 made it in :) I am happy. I like your list esp the meticulous links.

  5. Lovely list. Am putting this up on my blog right away!

  6. What a delicious list. The links are what I like the most.

  7. Great list! I can't believe you haven't eaten horsegram - I thought it is a Maharashtrian staple (even in a pseudo-Marathi household like ours)!

  8. wonderful list Nupur! You are so right about us being spoiled with choices in India.

    I enjoyed clicking through the list and looking at the photos. The candid road-side photos are surely the best ones and depict the dish in its true form. Will have it up on my blog soon and come back with the score :-) Have a great weekend.

  9. Nice lists! I'll add you to my list. Thanks for the info.

  10. Hey Nupur,

    I loved your list and going through the links and pictures :) Just awesome !!

    I made 92%. Foods I missed are :

    1. Tirphal (not sure if it is the same one that is used in ayurvedic preparations)
    2. Vada Pav (Having been born in Pune and lived there for a few years, I know its a shame but I dont know why I never ate this.. both my parents LOVE this)
    3. Kotthu Paratha
    4. Indian French Toast
    5. Sai Bhaji
    6. Solkadi
    7. Bhut Jolokia
    8. Bebinca

    And all my choices made to the list... ofcourse Dahi Puri got clubbed in Chaat.. :)) but still.. Yaay !!!

    Take care


  11. That was quick! Will try to take the challenge..I have a feeling my score is going to be low.

  12. That is great list. I have five missed food! Probably I was not exposed or ignored such dishes! Great links at least I can visualize those items.

  13. Oooh! ur list!! i's so doing this!!
    Just 1 question: Triphal, as in the ayurvedic medicine?

  14. I love the list! I'm going to come back and comment later about this :)

  15. Wow - this list is fascinating and a lot of unknown food for me - you are indeed lucky to have such wonderful flavours - I felt a bit sad that I couldn't do an Australian veg 100 because our food is mostly derived from immigrants - and the Indigenous flavours we do have are not widely appreciated

  16. Liked your list! - though I didn't know what some of the items (Bebinca?) were. And thanks for the painstaking links as well!

    Btw, I only had kottu parotta recently - ironically, in Germany, where I now live and never once in South India, where I grew up. It's a standard Sri Lankan dish as well - I actually had it at a Sri Lankan restaurant here - and was blown away by how good it tasted. A kind of Indian pasta, almost - except the roti/paratha is the "pasta" (it seems to lose it "roti-ness" entirely). I've made it at home since then, and been amazed at the results - so simple and yet, the seemingly transparent combination of roti and veggies and standard Indian spices creates a whole new entity fused in a deliciously complex way. I could go on and on, so I'd better stop here - but please try it if you haven't!

    One other thing I wanted to mention re. masala peanuts - I actually didn't mean the paper cones sold on Indian street (though those are wonderful as well) but the mixture of peanuts, tomatoes, onions, chilies, cilantro and spices that's served as an appetizer/bar-snack.

  17. I am so delighted to see you back here. Welcome back!
    Loved your list. Also thrilled to see Thayir Sadhaam up in the list. As an incorrigible South Indian foodie, I cannot live without that. #68 is too hot I hear. .I doubt if I will ever try it..

    Now, off to click on the links.

    -Suganthi aka thodarumm

  18. wow.......i scored a 99%....except for the bhut jolokia have tried everything else.......

  19. Lovely list with Indian touch!


  21. My score 97/100.I have not tasted Bhut Jolokia,Bebinca and Tirphal.That's it.I was amazed that I had tasted almost all of that list.Thanks to my dad I have lived in Chennai,Panvel,Mumbai,Indore,Noida(New Delhi)and Silvassa(Dadra nagar
    Haveli) and now in USA.I have friends from almost every region in India and I think it is safe to say I dined at every one of their homes to cover this list.LOL!

  22. Glucose biscuits..good one!

  23. I am so glad you are blogging again! :) I will do the list, but having only recently started preparing Indian foods, I haven't sampled many on the list, but I would like to! Dee

  24. Nupur -
    Its a shame you call "chakli" "murruku" - unless ofcourse you meant the south indian kind which is made with rice flour vs "chakali" which is made from "bhajanee".

  25. I enjoyed your list! I scored 84%. Not that bad, if you ask me.

  26. Thank god it is eating, I thought cooking and then my list would have only 5 or 6

  27. Lovely collection Nupur!! :)..
    How HOW Proud I feel to see my bananachips up there !!!
    I am HONOURED!!..:)
    No words to thank you Nupur!!!

  28. I scored a dismal 46, but given the fact that I studiously avoid coconut-laden dishes, and that I'm not Indian, I guess that's not too bad. As a Kitchen Barbarian I feel free to leave out of a recipe anything I don't like, or to avoid it altogether, and coconut definitely falls into that category.

  29. interesting list..
    but wedding feast is very generic..a traditional marathi wedding feast would have to have jilbi and mattha, masale bhaat..(of course these days they are very "modern" with ras-malai and pulav and korma)..with the fun being in the eating competitions and the "aagraha" (where you are lovingly forced to eat just one more..) which is altogether missing in the buffet systems these days..

  30. Hi Nupur, Its great to see you back on this page. I was wondering what had happened. Love this website. You rock..

  31. Wow - I'm not Indian, but I have eaten 65 of the list - pretty darn good for a white chick! Some of the ones I haven't tried sound really interesting, like falooda and thecha (not together though...). This is a very interesting place to start exploring.

    I am growing my own methi this year, as the supply at the farmer's market was too erratic and got snapped up too quickly. I should be able to havest the first batch this weekend.

  32. Nice to see you back at posting, Nupur. And that's quite a list. Looks like there are a few there I need to explore.
    I see my baby mangoes are here too. Thanks for mentioning them.

  33. Ha! 98% all but Bebinca and bhoot jholokia. Loved it that you put glucose biscuits and maggi noodles in there. Missed seeing bhelpuri there.

  34. Wow...interesting list and loved the maggie bit in it.WOnderful idea!

  35. Nupur, I took up your 100 challenge and scored 95%! I also added another 25 items to the list!! :D


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