Culinary Delights

Gourmet India

The finest of India's cuisines is as rich and diverse as its civilization. It is an art form that has been passed on over generations purely by word of mouth, from guru (teacher) to vidhyarthi (pupil) or from mother to daughter. The range assumes astonishing proportions when one takes into account regional variations. Very often the taste, colour, texture and appearance of the same delicacy changes from state to state.

The hospitality of the Indians is legendary. In Sanskrit Literature the three famous words 'Atithi Devo Bhava' or 'The guest is truly your God' are a dictum for hospitality in India. Indians believe that they are honoured if they share their meals with guests. Even the poorest look forward to visitors and are willing to share their meagrer food with them. And of particular importance is the Indian woman's pride in the fact that she will not let a guest go away unfed or unhappy from her home. Indians are known for their incredible ability to serve food to their guests, invited or uninvited.

Food customarily forms the crowning part of most festivities and celebrations. Whatever the occasion Indians eat with great gusto and are adept at finding reasons to feast and make merry. At traditional and festive meals, the thali (plate) or banana leaf is decorated with rangoli (a design drawn with white and coloured powders around the edges).

Cuisines of India

The unforgettable aroma of India is not just the heavy scent of jasmine and roses in the warm air. It is also the fragrance of spices which are so important in Indian cooking - especially in preparing curry. The world "curry" is an English derivative of "kari", meaning soice sauce, but curry does not, in India, come as a powder. It is the subtle and delicate blending of spices such as turmeric, cardamom, ginger, coriander, nutmeg and poppy seed. Like an artist’s palette of oil paints, the Indian cook has some twenty-five spices (freshly ground when required) with which to prepar the recognized combinations or "masalas". Many of these spices are also noted for their medicinal properties. They, like the basic ingredient, vary from region to region.

Although not all Hindus are vegetarians, you will probably eat more vegetable dishes than is common in Europe. Vegetarian preparations are cheap, varied and plentiful and superbly cooked.

Broadly speaking, meat dishes are more common in the north, notably Rogan Josh (curried lamb), Gushtaba (spicy meat balls in yoghurt), and the delicious Biriyani (chicken or lamb in orange flavoured rice, sprinkled and rose water). Mughlai cuisine is rich, creamy, deliciously spiced and liberally sprinkled with nuts and saffron. The ever popular Tandoori cooking (chicken, meat or fish marinated in herbs and baked in a clay oven) and kebabs are also northern cuisine.

One regional distinction is that whereas in the south rice is the staple food, in the north this is supplemented and sometimes substituted by a wide range of flat breads, such as Pooris, Chappatis and Nan. Common throughout India is Dal (crushed lentil soup with various additional vegetables), and Dahi, the curd or yoghurt which accompanies the curry. Besides being tasty, it is a good "cooler"; more effective than liquids when things get too hot. Sweets are principally milk based puddings, pastries and pancakes. Available throughout India is Kulfi, the Indian ice cream, Rasgullas (cream cheese balls in sugar syrup flavoured with rose water), Gulab Jamuns (deep fried balls of milk solids in syrup), and Jalebi (flour, yoghurt and ground almonds in syrup). Besides a splendid choice of sweets and sweetmeats, there is an abundance of fruit, both tropical – mangoes, pomegranates and melons – and temperate apricots, apples and strawberries. Western confectionery is available in major centres. It is common to finish the meal by chewing Pan as a digestive. Pan is a betel leaf in which are wrapped spices such as aniseed and cardamom.

  Arrive at Kolkata

Arrive at Calcutta, meet with our representative and proceed to your hotel.

Depending on your arrival time, the remainder of the day may be spent in leisure or you are free to explore on your own. Those interested may undertake a walking tour of old colonial buildings ending at the restaurant to join the others for dinner.

Dinner tonight will be at Aaheli Restaurant for a taste of authentic Bengali cuisine in a traditional ambience.


Breakfast at your hotel

In the morning you will be taken for brief drive past tour of Calcutta including Victoria Memorial(Closed on Monday), and Howrah bridge. Have lunch on your own.

After lunch, enjoy a nice cuppa at the Indian Coffee House. The Coffee House which has made absolutely no attempt to mask its age with designer tables and petite chairs, fancy lighting and noiseless fans-still continues to be very special. The prestige of the Coffee House increased because of famous visitors including stalwarts like Satyajit Ray, Manna Dey, Amartya Sen, Mrinal Sen and Aparna Sen.

In the evening, you will be taken for a cooking demonstration and dinner to a traditional Bengali home.

The traditional society of Bengal has always been heavily agrarian; hunting, except by some local tribals was uncommon. The rearing of animals was also not popular. This is reflected in the cuisine, which relies on staples like rice and đal, with little place for game or meat. Fish is the dominant kind of meat, cultivated in ponds and fished with nets in the fresh-water rivers of the Ganges delta. More than forty types of mostly freshwater fish are common, including carp varieties. Salt water fish is very popular among Bengalis. Almost every part of the fish (except fins and innards) is eaten; the head and other parts are usually used to flavour curries. Khashi (referred to as mutton in Indian English, the meat of goats) is the most popular red meat.

Macher Jhol is one of the most preferred dishes of people living in West Bengal. Macher Jhol or Machchi Jhol is usually eaten with rice. Macher Jhol is quite easy to prepare as you will find while trying your hands at cooking Macher Jhol.

Sweets occupy an important place in the diet of Bengalis and at their social ceremonies. It is an ancient custom among Hindus to distribute sweets during festivities. The sweets of Bengal are generally made of sweetened cottage cheese (chhena), khoa (reduced solidified milk) or flour of different cereals and pulses.

  Kolkata - Lucknow

After buffet breakfast, our representative will escort you to Kolkata domestic airport to board the flight for Lucknow.

Upon arrival you in Lucknow you will be met by our representative who will escort you to the hotel.

Lunch will be on your own.

In the afternoon, proceed for a sightseeing tour visiting the great Imambara – built in the 18th century. The absence of beams and pillars in the huge main hall is an architectural achievement.

For dinner you will be taken to a Nawab’s Haveli where you will be served the famous local cuisine, Awadhi. You would be particularly delighted to know that possibly some of these dishes were invented by the forefathers of the Nawab’s family.

The rich Awadhi cuisine of Lucknow region was made popular by the Nawab of Awadh who, to deal with food shortage, ordered his men to cook food in huge handis (vessels) to feed the hungry people. This eventually led to a style of cooking called dum, i.e., the art of sealing ingredients in large handis and simmering over a slow fire.

Utensils are made either of silver or copper. Kababs are cooked in a Mahi Tava (large, round shallow pan), using a kafgir which is a flat, long handled ladle for turning Kababs and Paranthas. Bone China plates and dishes were also used in Lucknow since the times of the Nawabs. Water was normally sipped from copper or silver tumblers and not glasses. The seating arrangement, while eating, was always on the floor where beautifully embroidered Dastarkhwans were spread on mats or carpets or even Chandnis (white linen). Sometimes this arrangement was made on low-raised wooden tables called Takahts.

  Lucknow - Delhi

After buffet breakfast, proceed to visit Lucknow residency where the British resident lived where there is a picture gallery exhibiting excellent full-sized portraits of the Nawabs of Awadh.

In the afternoon, you will be taken to a well-know restaurant, to sample local cuisine under expert guidance of Prateek Hira (Avadhi Cuisine Expert, by virtue of his education, knowledge and experience).

Later our representative will escort you to Lucknow airport to board the flight for Delhi

Upon arrival in Delhi, you will be met by our representative who will escort you to the hotel.


After buffet breakfast at hotel, you will proceed for a sightseeing tour of Old & New Delhi.

The tour will begin with a visit to Raj Ghat, a simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi; drive past the Red Fort continuing to the Jama Masjid or Friday Mosque, walk down the narrow streets of Chandni Chowk to reach the mosque. It is the largest mosque in India, accommodating up to 25,000 worshippers at one time. Designed by Shah Jahan, this grand red sandstone and white marble mosque was said to have been built by 5,000 artisans from 1644 to 1656.

You will also visit the markets of Old Delhi. Sacks of spices and nuts, edible sheets of silver and local pickles make for an aromatic day out. In the lanes of Khari Baoli you will be introduced to saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, by one of the oldest and largest distributors of this exotic spice in the world.

After sightseeing you will be taken to Sagar Ratna restaurant for South Indian vegetarian meal for lunch. The restaurant offers rare pleasures including authentic regional specialties of South India such as dosas, vadas, appams, parathas, chutneys, sambar, rasam and other south Indian dishes. Added to it theseare the freshness, purity, hygiene, taste and variety of food and homely service. This is cooked with coconut oil and coconut is major ingredient of almost all the dishes.

After lunch, you will be driven to New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. Designed and built by the British architect Edwin Lutyens and his friend Sir Herbert Baker, the new capital was formally inaugurated in 1931. The division between New and Old Delhi is the division between the capitals of the British and the Mughals respectively. The walled city is all tradition where one will be able to glean a past life-style in all its facets, colours and magic. New Delhi, in contrast, is a city trying to live up to the best of 21st century standards.

The tour to Imperial Delhi will include a visit to the Qutab Minar, the five-storied tower with a 14.4 meter base that tapers up to two and a half meters at the top is visible for a considerable distance around it. Pulling down 27 Hindu and Jain temples and using their columns, the attached Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque was also built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak. Then visit Humayun’s tomb, built by the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun.  It is an outstanding monument in the Indo-Persian style, a precursor of the Taj Mahal. The tour also includes a drive past the imposing India Gate, the Parliament building and the Rastrapathi Bhawan, the President’s residence.

This evening you will meet an Indian lady who is a renowned cook in Delhi.

Passionate about travelling to different parts of the world, meeting people and trying the variety of tastes and flavours available, has always excited her. A people’s person at heart, through Gourmet Desire, she has tried to share her passion about food and culture with others.

Start your evening with visit to the local vegetable market to see the vegetables, fruit, meat and spices available that you may use in your cooking lesson which will be followed by dinner at her lovely home.

  Delhi - Agra

Early in the morning you will be driven to the railway station for your train to Agra.  On arrival at Agra, you will be met and escorted to the hotel.

After breakfast you will proceed for brief sightseeing of Agra including the incomparable Taj Mahal.

The magnificent monument the Taj Mahal, was built by an emperor in memory of his beloved queen. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631, and is believed to have taken 18 years to complete, with over 20,000 craftsmen working around the clock. The design and construction is said to be that of the legendary architect, Ustad Ahmad Lahori. Legend has it that once construction was completed, Shah Jahan had Lahori blinded and his hands cut off, so that he would never be able to duplicate the structure. What makes the Taj Mahal unique is its perfect proportions, distinct femininity, medium of construction and ornamentation. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day. It is impossible to visualize the Taj Mahal in any surrounding other than its beautiful garden. Paradise, in Islam, is visualized as a lush garden with flowing streams. When the Moguls brought this concept to India they elevated it to the heights of incomparable. (TAJ MAHAL REMAINS CLOSED ON FRIDAYS)

Lunch is on your own.

In the evening, you will be taken to Peshawari restaurant for dinner.

In an ambience reminiscent of the rustic charm of dining in the warmth of tents under a starry sky in the cold desert terrain of the North West Frontier, Peshawari brings to Agra an award winning menu of delicacies cooked in the clay tandoor. Experience the wonder of this cuisine with a lavish spread of delicious kebabs – vegetarian and non-vegetarian that are cooked in myriad ways, a range of Indian breads from the decadently indulgent to light and fluffy breads and of course, the inimitable Dal Bukhara – all of which is paired with an exclusive collection of wines and other beverages.

  Agra - Fatehpur Sikri - Bharatpur - Jaipur

On this morning you will be driven to Jaipur (approx. 5.5 hours) – en route visiting Fatehpur Sikri. Lunch will be served at Laxmi Vilas Palace near Bharatpur. The Laxmi Vilas Palace lies in a beautiful location which enhances the sumptuous lunch preparation.

Upon arrival at Jaipur, proceed to check-in at your hotel. Rest of the day is at your leisure.

Your dinner tonight will be at the ethnic village, Chokhi Dhani.

Rajasthani cuisine is perhaps the most sensitive among Indian cuisines. Rajasthani cooking, in general, has its own unique flavour where the simplest and the most basic of ingredients go into the preparation of most dishes. Perhaps due to the general scarcity of water, cooking is done with minimum use of water.  Instead milk, buttermilk and clarified butter are used.

Non-availability of vegetables like tomatoes has led to the usage of dried mango powder while asafoetida is used instead of onion and garlic. Gram flour is a major ingredient and is used to make some of the delicacies like khatta, gatte ki sabzi and pakodi.  Powdered lentils are used for mangodi and papad.  Bajra and corn are used all over the state for preparations of rabdi, khichdi and rotis. Various chutneys are made from locally available spices like turmeric, coriander, mint and garlic.


Enjoy tour of Jaipur city.

Jaipur was founded in 1727 by Maharaja Jai Singh II and is a marvellous synthesis of architectural influences - Hindu and Mughal. The bazaars teem with people, camels, horses and a multitude of vehicles, while around them loom magnificent palaces and buildings. In the morning you will drive past the Hawa Mahal, otherwise known as the palace of Winds, and continue to Amber Fort.

Hawa Mahal is just an elaborate facade behind which the ladies of the court used to sit and observe life in the streets below. Amber, the ancient capital of the region, still recalls its heydays in the majestic ramparts rising steeply along the contoured hillsides. Here, elephant still carry visitors in stately splendour to the main Palace, through unusually high gateways, obviously designed to accommodate this archaic mode of transport. It is an extremely well preserved building and very delightful to explore. Visit the Jagmandir or the Hall of Victory glittering with mirrors, Jai Mahal and Temple of Kali.

Your lunch is arranged at Samode Haveli - The exquisite former dining hall that serves as a restaurant is bedecked with colourful hand-painted murals. There's a choice between the traditional Rajasthani and international cuisine within these frescoed interiors.

Later, you will be drive to Dera Amer to enjoy an elephant safari followed by dinner:

The elephant Safari is conducted in the natural and serene area surrounding the camp of Dera Amer. At dusk, upon arrival, the guests are welcomed by the elephants. After feeding the elephants, a welcome drink is served and face towels are given.  The guests are seated on the cushioned seat (2 adults on each elephant) and sent on a picturesque track following a local tribal guide passing through a private jungle area surrounding the camp, as the sun sets over the hills passing by village hutments, fields, a medieval fortress lit up by flame torches – mashaals (at night) and monument finally arriving at the camp situated in the middle of the forest to a grand welcome. The elephant ride culminates at the camp or the exclusive jungle spots.

The guests arrive at these surprise locations lit by Mashals and Diyas and local traditional instruments playing at a distance.  There is exclusive seating and dining with a luxurious candle lit layout and live barbecue.

  Jaipur - Udaipur

Breakfast at your hotel

After breakfast drive to Udaipur (Approx. 06-07 hrs).

Arrive Udaipur and check-in to hotel. There is leisure time to enjoy the facilities of the hotel.

In the evening you will enjoy a boat ride on the placid waters of Lake Pichola (subject to water level permitting) up to Jag Mandir Palace, built by Maharana Karan Singh in 1622 AD as a pleasure palace for royal parties and functions. This magnificent monument with its domes, marble pillars and fountains has a special approach of a row of marble elephants that seem to be guarding the island.

Dinner will be at the hotel.


Breakfast at your hotel

Your sightseeing includes a visit to the City Palace, an enormous edifice surrounded by crenulated walls that stands on a hill on the banks of Lake Pichola. Built in 1567, it is composed of 4 major palaces and several minor palaces that form a single façade. It is here that Udai Singh met an ascetic who suggested this site for Udaipur. The centrally located 17th century Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard) gets its name from inlaid glass mosaics of peacocks on its walls. Other exotic rooms include the Krishna Vilas dedicated to the memory of a 16 year old princess's tragic suicide, the Zenana Mahal (Palace of the Queens) and the Chini Chitrasala, which has exquisite mosaics and blue and white ceramics. To the west of main gate lies Khush Mahal (Palace of Happiness) and to its south lies Shambhu Niwas, built in the 19th century. The third palace is Shiv Niwas, which is now a hotel. The Crystal Gallery in Fateh Prakash Hotel overlooks the grand Durbar Hall. It has a rare collection of Osler's crystal ordered from England by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1877. It includes crystal chandeliers and crystal furniture like chairs, dressing tables and a bed.

Return to hotel after sightseeing. The rest of the day is at your leisure. Lunch will be on your own.
In the evening, you will be taken for dinner with the Bedla Family. The present scion of the Bedla clan, Vijay Singh was persuaded to share the rich culinary heritage of Mewar.
Bedla, in a way, is only carrying forward a bloodline that boasts not only of prime ministers and royal advisers but also exemplary hosts. Bedla Palace near Udaipur became known as much for its punditry as its pan craft. Lovers of the palace cuisine have included Jawaharlal Nehru, Queen Elizabeth II and Jacqueline Kennedy.
Bedla cuisine makes generous use of corn and milk products, and includes the super-secret, 38-ingredient Bedla sauce that requires eight months to make. Tomatoes, a late entrant in Rajasthani food culture, don't figure among the ingredients and curd takes their place. An iconic dish is Banjara Mans, a meat dish cooked with some spices and salt in the crude fashion favoured by a nomadic tribe. The dish is stirred in one direction so as not to break any ingredient. The Bedlas say they have recipes of over 20,000 exclusive dishes.

  Udaipur - Mumbai

Early morning proceed to airport for flight to Mumbai.

Upon arrival in Mumbai you will be met and escorted to your hotel.

After Lunch proceed for sightseeing tour of Mumbai. The tour includes a visit to the Gateway of India-erected to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911; the collection of Indian painting and sculpture at the Prince of Wales Museum, Marine Drive, Chowpatty Beach, the meticulously Hanging Gardens of Malabar Hill, the Tower of Silence – a circular raised structure used by Zoroastrians for excarnation, exposure of their dead to carrion birds, and the Crawford Market.

Later in the evening you will be collected from your hotel and taken to Trishna Restaurant for dinner. A seafood speciality restaurant serving coastal cuisine, Trishna is particularly famous for its crab preparations. It also serves up Hyderabadi dal (spicy lentils), prawns Koliwada (batter-fried prawns) and pomfret Hyderabadi-style (a local fish barbecued with a coating of freshly ground pepper). There’s plenty there for vegetarians too.


Enjoy buffet breakfast at the hotel. We shall take you to “food-oriented bazaar walk”, that takes you to one of the traditional middle-class markets of the city. The walk is ideal for foodies and anyone interested in understanding the rich cuisine legacy of India.(All days except Mondays)

The Matunga area was settled in the 1930’s and 1940’s, as the city grew northwards from its original southern beginnings. Today this is a bustling, prosperous area, home to three different communities: Hindu Tamil Brahmins, Hindu Gujaratis from trading communities, and Jains. All three communities are vegetarian, but follow different religious rules. As a result, their cuisines reflect their rich food traditions, evolved over the years in accordance with specific food taboos.
The Matunga area is not just a vibrant food market – it is a cultural epicentre, housing several popular temples for Hindus and Jains. The walk will cover these temples, other shops in the market (textiles, household goods etc.) and the colourful Matunga flower market.

We will start the walk at one end of the market, at the Kannika Parameswarai Temple (patron goddess of the Andhra business community). From there, the market begins, with various pavement stalls selling vegetables and fruits. We will introduce you to typical vegetables, herbs, aromatics and spices that are available in the market, and how they are used by different communities in daily food. The guide will also point out seasonal specialties that are available in the market. We will stop at a popular local store, selling a dazzling array of snacks and treats. There is a hygienic tasting counter, where you can sample many of these tasty specialty treats. At the ‘mukhwas’ counter, you can sample a wide range of mouth fresheners.

After the Food Oriented Bazar Walk, You will be taken to famous Café Leopold’s for Lunch, one of the oldest Cafés in Mumbai. The café is a great hangout place and is known for its relaxed ambience, great food and reasonably priced drinks. The café was attacked by the terrorists during Bombay seize in Nov 2008…was quickly re-opened as a mark of total defiance of the terrorists.

Return to your hotel and the remainder of the day will be at your leisure.

Your farewell dinner tonight is arranged at the Zodiac Grill.

The Zodiac Grill is a perfect place to celebrate or to just enjoy a memorable meal. This Continental restaurant in the legendary Taj Mahal hotel, is one of the fanciest places to eat at in town. It is Western in style, with subdued lighting, handsome chandeliers, captains in black jackets, and waiters wearing white gloves. Specialties include Camembert dariole (soufflé) and a creamy Kahlua mousse for dessert.

  Depart Mumbai

In time, proceed to the international airport for departure.

Today, your creative and magical journey to our part of the globe comes to an end as you will be escorted by our representative to the international terminal of the airport on time to board your flight to your home country.

End of the Tour