There’s nothing like Indian food – think creamy curries, seasoned breads and deep-fried sweet treats washed down with a cup of spicy chai. Food is a headline act on any India trip, each meal providing a window into a region’s history and culture, from Mughal-style kormas in the north to crispy-thin southern dosas and a million street snacks in between. The best way to experience India’s famous cuisine is with the locals, so here’s a round-up of our favourite Indian cooking classes and food tours.
The best Indian food tours
Trawl the best eateries and street food stalls across India with a local guide, who’ll teach you the history of each dish along the way – here are some of our top picks.
Taste Mumbai’s top street food
Sample Mumbai’s quintessential street food on this walking tour, from the Bombay burger to ice-cream sandwiches and pav bhaji, a vegetable curry served with bread that’s loved by the city’s textile workers. Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson even took this tour, declaring the vada pav, deep-fried potato dumpling in a bread bun, her favourite dish of the year. Traverse Mumbai’s Khau Gully (food lane), stop at 100-year-old Iranian cafes for chai and finish at Girgaon Chowpatty, a beach where locals gather for dosas and snow cones.
Discover why Hyderabad has the best biryani
While exploring India’s south, discover the secrets of Biryani, which locals firmly believe has its origins in Hyderabad. Explore vegetable and spice markets with your guide to understand the region’s rich culinary history. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to stop at a wedding hall where biryani is cooked up for thousand-strong crowds in huge pots, with fire blazing beneath and hot coals above. This Hyderabad food tour is topped off with a visit to a local home where you’ll watch the family cook up their own unique biryani recipe and sit down to eat with them.
Sample Varanasi’s street food delights
Discover Varanasi’s cuisine, which is derived from its diverse communities, on this foodie walking tour. Grab a Banaras samosa from an eatery that dates back to 1882 and visit street food vendors who specialise in kathai biscuits, the kachori breakfast dish and bathi choka, chickpea-infused roasted bread soaked in ghee and cooked over a cow-dung fire. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll love sampling Varanasi’s mithai and malaiyyo treats. Your guide will also take you to Deena Chat Bhandar, a five-decades-old restaurant popular for its variety of savoury chaats.
Get an authentic taste of Madurai on a gourmet adventure
Every street in Madurai has a story to tell and a foodie connection, which you’ll learn about on this gourmet adventure. Walk through the heart of the city to experience delights like paruthi paal, a hot, spicy cottonseed milk drink only found in Madurai. Your guide will lead you through bazaars full of colourful spices to family-owned food shops that sell Tamil festival sweets. Konar Kadai is a highlight, a beloved eatery that sells kari dosas topped with meat and eggs, Madurai’s version of a pizza.
Get a taste of Old Delhi with a local
Take a walk around Old Delhi with Dhruv Gupta, a fifth-generation local with a passion for food. He’ll show you the area’s hidden architectural gems and roof-top view points over the city, as well as its renowned street food. You’ll get to try everything from samosas and pav bhaji to deep-fried sweets and then wander through Asia’s largest wholesale spice market, a cacophony of scents, colours and activity. The trip ends at Dhruv’s haveli, a grand oasis in the centre of Delhi, where you’ll sit down for a sumptuous vegetarian meal.
Top Indian cooking classes
Nothing beats learning from the locals, so join a family in their home for one of these unique cooking classes.
The Blue House cooking class, Jodhpur
Meet the Purohit family, Brahmins who love to cook their unique vegetarian cuisine, which features a spice mix called asafoetida instead of onion and garlic. The matriarch of the family, Chandra, will teach you how to make pakoras accompanied by tamarind chutney to enjoy on the rooftop of their home, which is painted blue in typical Jodhpur style and has incredible views over the city. In this cooking class, you’ll also make Rajasthani tali and learn family secrets, such as how the Purohits grind up their spectacular masala spice mix.
Cook up the traditional tastes of Mysore in a family kitchen
Join Shashikala Ashok in her family kitchen for a traditional Mysore cooking class. The lesson starts with a trip to the city’s most famous market, Devaraja, where you’ll learn how to bargain with vendors and shop for seasonal ingredients like brinjal and beans. Back at Shashikala’s house, you’ll prepare a three-course meal that could involve tamarind rice, Mysore dosas and ven pongal, a tasty lentil dish. Your home-cooked feast is served on banana-leaf plates and enjoyed with the whole family.
Learn to cook like a local in Delhi
Welcome to Neha Gupta’s home, a Delhi cook who lives with her extended family. Thanks to her father’s job in the air force, Neha has lived all over India and showcases the country’s regional cuisine in her popular cooking classes. As you work, Neha will tell you the stories behind each dish you prepare, which could include chana masala, biryani or chicken tikka masala. Learn about India’s medicinal spices and how to make breads from scratch – the experience is like cooking with a friend and ends with a meal on the terrace.
Get a taste of Pondicherry’s Creole cuisine with a hands-on cooking class
Let chef Manisha Ray introduce you to Creole cuisine in this Pondicherry cooking class. She’ll teach you all about the region’s food culture, which features a fusion of French and Tamil traditions. You’ll prepare some of Pondicherry’s signature dishes, many of which are focused around mutton, such as hearty meatballs cooked in coconut milk and curry leaves. The deep-fried chops in chickpea batter flavoured with fennel seeds are a favourite, as is the semolina-based rava cake, which you’ll bake for dessert.
Cooking with the Nobles in Jaipur
The cooking classes at Dera Mandawa, a historic haveli, are legendary in Jaipur. Thakur and his wife Usha are known for their lavish hospitality and will kick-off the experience with a trip to a Jaipur market for ingredients. Cooking takes place in their courtyard kitchen, where you’ll bake bread in a biogas oven fuelled by cow patties. Learn to make five dishes including paneer and mashed aubergine, then dine together in the garden accompanied by free-flowing drinks.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Malcolm, who's travelled extensively in India. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember.
Freephone an expert 01306 744 656