India has a rich plethora of cuisines from the east to the west and north to the south. The tantalizing aroma of spices lures citizens to travel miles just for a single bite. Amidst all the stereotypes, India is predominantly a land of meat lovers that constitutes a whopping 70% of its population.
Top 15 Authentic Non-Vegetarian Dishes Of India
1. Tunday Kebab
Originated in the ‘Nawabo Ka Sheher’ Lucknow way back in the 17th Century, these succulent minced meatballs known as tunday kebabs never cease to charm. It is a secret family recipe passed through generations whose seeds were sown by Haji Murad Ali. The dish is said to be a beautiful amalgamation of 160 spices and condiments. The name is derived from the Hindi word ‘tunda’, which means ‘someone having only one arm’. Interestingly, the dish is named after Murad Ali after he lost his one arm. But his passion for cooking didn’t diminish his desire to create a culinary masterpiece.
2. Rogan Josh
This originally Persian dish is a part of the Mughlai cuisine of Kashmir. Rogan means ‘clarified butter’ in Persian, and josh means ‘intense heat’. Curiously, there are two significant versions of rogan josh in Kashmir. Kashmiri Brahmans use fennel seeds and asafetida to flavour their lambs as they strictly don’t consume onions and garlic. In contrast, Kashmiri Muslims’ version has onion, garlic and the dried flower of cockscomb plant (maval), which imparts a red hue to the dish.
3. Butter Chicken
One of India’s most iconic dishes, butter chicken is a beautiful masterstroke of luck. During the 1950s, it was created by Kundal Lal Gujral in his new home Moti Mahal in Daryaganj, Delhi. He created it by mixing a perfect balance of tomato gravy with cream and butter to soften the leftover unsold chicken tikkas. Moti Mahal, in its heyday, catered to the gastronomical needs of many patrons such as Jawahar Lal Nehru, Maulana Azad, Zakir Hussain, and very recently Michelin Chef, Gordon Ramsay too.
4. Murg Mussalam
The gem of Awadhi cuisine, which the whole world has been blessed with, is murg mussalam. It was first mentioned in the 16th-century manuscript Ain-i-Akbari, written by Abul Fazl. Mussalam in Urdu means ‘whole/complete’. It is a whole chicken stuffed with minced meat, eggs and nuts marinated with garlic-ginger paste and seasoned with numerous spices such as saffron, poppy seeds, cardamom, etc.
5. Nalli Nihari
Nalli nihari provided warmth during the winter mornings in the old days of the Nawabs. Best coupled with khameeri roti, nihari has different variations that depend on the proportion of spices. It is slow-cooked and kept overnight to soften the meat, which merges perfectly with the stew’s texture. Some restaurants in old Delhi use leftover nihari known as ‘taar’ and add it to the freshly cooked nihari, thus, giving it a richer, spicy flavour. In the earlier days, it was also used as an alternative remedy for cold and cough under the recommendation of Hakims.
6. Pork Vindaloo
Finding its roots in Portugal, the dish ‘Carne de vinha d’alhos’ travelled miles to Goa in the 15th Century and eventually became vindaloo. The native dish had wine vinegar, but that was replaced by palm wine due to the lack of knowledge about vinegar. The pork meat was cooked with locally available ingredients like tamarind, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and most importantly, chile peppers, Portugal’s legacy.
7. Laal Maas
Created by Mewari chefs in the 10th Century, laal maas truly suits the palate of a true warrior. The dish uses game meat, locally known as ‘shikaar’, which constitutes wild boars, deers, etc. A copious amount of red hot mathania chillies is also used, which could easily create embarrassing beads of perspiration on your forehead! Other distinct ingredients of the delicious smoked meat are first-pressed mustard oil and ghee (clarified butter).
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8. Chicken Chettinad
The dish gets its name from the Chettiars, who were traders of salts and spices. They were believed to be richer than kings, with their roots in a cluster of about 76 villages in southern Tamil Nadu. This delectable dish takes form when succulent and soft chicken is simmered in 15-16 spices, blended pepper, red chilli, and coconut.
9. Kankada Jhol (Crab Curry)
Traditional crab curry is famous in the coastal region of Odisha. Odia cuisine uses mustard oil in its dishes. The dish is less oily and spicy but would win your heart with its simplicity. It is best served with a plate of hot steamed rice.
10. Salli Boti
The quintessential love affair of potatoes (salli means shoestrings) and chunks of meat brings out the best of Parsi cuisine with unique elements like apricot (jardaloo), red vinegar, and sugar that notch up the taste factor on multiple levels.
Despite regional variations, this celebrated broth’s traditional and essential ingredients are the leg of a baby goat and yoghurt. It is originated from the combination of south and central Asian cuisine.
12. Hanhor Mangxo Komora
It is an Assamese duck delicacy served on special occasions such as Bihu. Black pepper is the main spice used in the preparation of this easy-to-remember and straightforward dish. The dish’s critical aspect is to slit open the duck in the belly region and carefully remove its digestive system to avoid bursting its intestine. Ash gourd/ white gourd is the primary ingredient in this dish.
13. Meen Moilee
Kerala has given the nation innumerable fantastic seafood recipes, primarily fish related. God’s own country has one particular and a differently prepared dish known as meen moilee, which finds its roots in the western coast. Moilee belongs to a different genre of cooking as the dish uses only coconut milk and not grated coconut, which is one of the most widely used ingredients in Kerala cuisine. No incorporation of souring agents such as tamarind, green mango kokum, and vinegar is done.
14. Tabak Maaz
It is a traditional meat product in the exquisite culinary experience of Kashmiri cuisine known as ‘wazwan’ that consists of 36 dishes. Tabak maaz is a tender lamb ribs meal, where the lamb is cut longitudinally and slow-cooked in spices like fennel seeds, garlic, turmeric and salt. It is then fried in ghee till it gets a crisp and light brown texture. While preparing this dish, patience is a requisite, as it is cooked to perfection on shallow heat.
Northeastern people know how to create mouthwatering healthy dishes with their seafood. Iromba, locally known as ‘ngari’, is a traditional dish of Manipur. It is popularly known for its pungent aroma of fermented fish and mushrooms, green leaves, potatoes and blazing red chillies.
India being a country with multiple regions, languages, religions and cultures, the food culture remains one of the best and unique parts of the nation. Not only is India rich in its vegetarian dishes, but it also brags several original non-vegetarian dishes. The above list evidences it. Tasting food from different regions also provides a rich experience of understanding other cultures.