Our 10 Favourite Rural Recipes from India

Posted in Recipes on Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Whether from the foothills of the Himalayas, the desert of Rajasthan, the Spice Gardens of Karnataka or the backwaters of Kerala, all of our villagers are extremely proud to cook for their guests in dedicated kitchens, and take great care in producing tasty, authentic meals with produce sourced as locally as possible (with a good deal taken from the community’s own land). The majority of the food is vegetarian, and leaves guests feeling healthy, well fed and armed with new ideas for their own kitchen. Cooking lessons- impromptu or more formal- are often requested or offered on our trips, and these opportunities are usually noted as highlights of guest’s time spent in the villages- not only for learning new recipes and techniques, but also for providing a real chance to get to know their hosts.

With a recipe book gathering all of our villagers favourite recipes in the making, we've taken the opportunity to test many of them out, and after much deliberating and tasting, we’ve come up with 10 of our favourite recipes from our villages in India for you to enjoy here! Click through to read the full recipes.

1)  Pumpkin Curry, from Karmi village in the Pindar Valley

The warming flavours of this curry and texture of the pumpkin are delicious- a perfect meal with chapattis straight off the fire at the end of a good day’s walking in the foothills of the Himalayas!

2) Vegetable Sambar, from Kerala

Our second offering is a scrumptious vegetable and lentil stew type dish with a great kick, made in Southern India. A Sambar, popular in Southern Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine, combines vegetables, lentils and a special combination of spices in a broth to make a most tasty dish which goes well with rice.

 We’ve listed the ingredients used by the ladies of Kerala when they gave us a demonstration, but not all will be readily available elsewhere- use any vegetables you have to hand- most will be delicious!

3) Prawn Mappass (Chemmeen roast) - A dry preparation from cook Maheshan, of Valayar Village, Kerala 

With prawns freshly caught from the backwaters of Kerala, what could be a better dish to tuck into while you float serenely along on the Goodearth Houseboat?

4) Jira Aloo and Baingan, Hacra Village, Rajasthan

It’s difficult to pick a favourite dish from Hacra, but this potato and aubergine dish is definitely up there- yummy!

5) Chamundi – Coconut chutney (by Smitha) from Mothakarra Village, Kerala.

Chutneys are an integral part of Indian cuisine and accompany most meals and snacks. Spicy or sweet, thick or runny they bring together a dish and get the taste buds working! With so many flavours and variations it’s hard to pick a favourite; this coconut concoction from Mothakkara village Kerala is well worth a try and a great accompaniment to a curry. 

6) Dhal, from Hacra Village, Rajasthan

Sometimes there’s nothing tastier than a good bowl of dhal- simple but definitely not plain! This version from Hacra packs a punch and is great with chapattis!

7) Onion and Potato Pokoras, from Juni village, Saryu Valley, Northern India

This Indian snack food is essential at tea time accompanied by chutney, and is certainly more-ish – be warned one is not enough! After a day’s walking from village to village there’s not a more welcoming sight that a cup of steaming chai and a plate of fresh, hot, crispy pokoras!

8) Sooji Kheer pudding from Supi village in the Binsar Sanctuary

No food list should be without at least one pudding, so here’s our sweet offering. This semolina pudding may sound rather heavy, but is wonderfully warming and gives that ‘ready for a snooze ’ effect. Perhaps not one for the summer months ahead, but on a cool evening, after a strenuous walk from village to village, this is very welcoming to a weary guest in the Binsar Sanctuary!

9) Appu’s Lemon and ginger juice, from Kerala

Perhaps the perfect cooling drink for an afternoon’s boating along the backwaters of Kerala!

10) Ginger Chai, from Hacra Village, Rajasthan

And finally, we can’t have our favourite recipes without including what has to be one of the most important beverages in all our villages- chai! This is far removed from your bog standard cuppa, and when back home elevenses won’t seem half so exciting! Every village has their own variation on how to make it- all delicious, sweet, and flavoursome- a perfect morning wake up call to get you ready for the day and the perfect pick me up mid walk at a chai stop.

 Here’s Mewa’s version from Hacra Rajasthan; with an extra ginger kick it’s claimed to be the best chai in Hacra!