Get a real taste of some of India’s most famous culinary traditions – Mughal, Rajasthani, and the Portuguese-tinged flavours of Goa – while feasting with locals in family-run restaurants, rural homes, or in temples. Get in touch with an amazing array of street food on eye-opening and adventurous cuisine crawls. Take in the splendor of the Taj Mahal in Agra, followed by a cooking demonstration and lunch in a local home. Visit a working spice farm to view the secret ‘building blocks’ of Indian cuisine at their source
Spend over three weeks discovering the sights, sounds and flavours of India. From Delhi to Hyderabad and via the ethereal beauty of Rajasthan, experience the best street food in Delhi, the beautiful sight of the Taj Mahal in Agra, the delightful taste of Rajasthan’s traditional cuisine in Jaipur and Udaipur, the colours of India’s markets and bazaars and how to cook up delicious regional Indian dishes in a number of inspiring cooking classes. Relax on Goa’s beaches, see Jaipur’s breathtaking Palace of the Wind, explore the vibrant food scene of Mumbai and spend time in rural Rajasthan living it up in a 17th-century fort. Wander around a tea farm in Periyar, take to the water on a houseboat in the Kerala backwaters and enjoy cooking demonstrations in Madurai and Kochi. Finish in one of India’s most iconic cities, Hyderabad, famed for its inimitable Biryani. You will relish every bit of this sensory trip through the heart of southern India. This unforgettable journey into the cultural and gastronomic heart of North & South India will satisfy every appetite.
Namaste! Welcome to India. Delhi is an excitingly chaotic capital city – filled with historical sites from different eras, museums and galleries, shops and endless bazaars, there’s plenty to see, do, and eat. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Afterwards, celebrate the start of a memorable food adventure with a short stroll to a local restaurant. Here you'll enjoy your first taste of North Indian flavours over a delicious – and completely vegetarian – feast. Perhaps partake in a kulfi falooda (ice cream-style dessert) after dinner from a hole-in-the-wall place, considered one of the top-spots for kulfi in Delhi.
This morning venture out to Old Delhi, wandering through alleyways for an authentic Delhi street food breakfast. Keep your eye out for the local chai wallah, renowned for his delicious milky tea. Next, jump on the city's metro system and head to Jama Masjid – Delhi's oldest mosque. While Hinduism is the dominant religion in Delhi, there is also a significant Sikh population, so continue the religious theme over a vegetarian lunch at a local Sikh temple. After lunch, tour Chandni Chowk – one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi. Visit the spice warehouses in the back alleys of Khari Baoli and meet a seller to hear them talk spice mixes for the market. Visit the Gali Paranthe Wali (lane of parathas), which has been in operation since the 1870s. Parathas are one of the most popular unleavened flat breads in Punjabi North Indian cuisine, so taste some delicious variations with fillings like potatoes, cauliflower and cottage cheese. Tonight, you’ve got the option to visit a local family for a home-cooked meal. This provides an insight into the day-to-day life of Delhites, so find out some secret recipes, get involved in the meal or just chat with your welcoming hosts.
Get your first experience of Indian train with an air-conditioned ride to Agra (approximately 3 hours). Famed for the evocative Taj Mahal, Agra is a city of fascinating history, rich in Mughal heritage, lush gardens and exquisite structures. Agra is also home to one of the finest looking forts in India – Agra Fort. Enter the dark red sandstone stronghold and search through throne rooms and tiny but ornate mosques. For lunch, join a Mughlai cooking demonstration. Meet a passionate cook, who'll teach you how to prepare classics such as malai ki sabzi (vegetables cooked with cream) and onion paratha (flatbread stuffed with onions and potato) – obviously depending on the season. Afterwards, head to the Taj Mahal, wandering the grounds and taking in the changing vistas as day turns to evening – a truly unforgettable experience. For dinner, you could book in to a chaat crawl – a savoury snack, like fried potatoes or samosa broken into pieces with chutney, typically served from roadside stalls or carts. Fast food: Indian style.
Drive to the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur (approximately 5 hours). Jaipur was designed by royalty and has delighted visitors for centuries with its pink-hued buildings, wonderful bazaars, and rainbow of bright colours dancing along hectic streets. Stop at India's most photographed building after the Taj Mahal – the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds’. Here, royal maidens once watched the streets below through the fabulous jali (lattice screens) which hid them from prying male eyes. Today, snake charmers and fortune-tellers ply their trade below the same hideaway. Visit the oldest chai wallah in the city along your way, cool down with a delicious kulfi and marvel at the sheer range of produce on display at the markets. In the evening, you may wish to check out the extravagance of a Bollywood blockbuster, with all the Hollywood-style elements of action, romance, drama and music (sometimes all rolled into one), at the spectacular Raj Mandir Cinema. Your leader will also have plenty of dinner suggestions.
Travel out to the old capital of Amber and explore the hilltop complex known as the Amber Fort. Set in stunning surroundings overlooking Maota Lake, this opulent palace is the legacy of a fallen empire and a superb example of Rajput architecture. One of its most spectacular buildings is the Sheesh Mahal. With its walls completely covered with tiny mirrors, the hall becomes a dazzling fantasy with the light of a single match. For lunch, try a local favourite – kachori. Kachoris are deep fried bread stuffed with vegetables and lentils and are one of the most sought-after snacks in north India. If sweets are your thing, try the mawa kachori – dried fruit and mawa (milk solids) stuffed kachori, deep-fried and coated in sugar syrup. Later on, you will learn the secrets of Rajasthani cuisine in a hands-on cooking class, sitting down to a sumptuous dinner of all you have prepared.
Leave the city behind and drive approximately 6 hours to a local heritage stay located in the Vindhyanchal Hills in the Mewar region of south-central Rajasthan – a great opportunity to learn about rural life and culinary customs. You’ll also stop en route to enjoy lunch with a local family. Your accommodation for the next two nights will be at 16th-century Castle Bijaipur – now a heritage hotel with domes, arched windows and doorways, all within the original fortified walls. Enjoy the palace’s blend of colonial and Mughal architecture as you relax by the pool or in the gardens, pampered by Mewar hospitality.
Today you’ll jump in a jeep and explore the surrounding farming communities. This is a major agricultural area and, depending on the season, you will pass through fields growing wheat, corn, maize, lentils, aubergine, spinach, fenugreek, okra, green chilies, tomatoes, potatoes, gourd, onion and garlic. Some of India’s known spices, such as turmeric and cumin, are also grown here. In the late afternoon, return to your heritage stay and join the estate's chef to discover how these ingredients are used in Rajhasthani cooking. Savour the results over a delicious dinner in the palace grounds with your small group – a truly special experience.
Travel to Udaipur (approximately 4 hours’ drive). Udaipur is known for its Hindu temples and palaces but there are also some small but renowned Jain temples in the city. Jainism is a minority religion in India and is considered among the most rigorous spiritually motivated diets in India. Once you’ve arrived, enjoy a street food snack tasting and lunch in the Old City. Tonight, you’ll have a free evening for dinner. Udaipur has several delicious rooftop restaurants, so climb some stairs, choose a restaurant and settle in to watch the sun set over one of the city’s shimmering central lakes.
Udaipur, also known as the 'City of Lakes', is built around the shores of Lake Pichola and full of fascinating temples, ornate palaces and impressive 'havelis' (merchant homes). Take some time to discover its winding streets and shops full of traditional Rajasthani wares. Visit the City Palace – one of the largest royal palaces in India – and check out the unbelievable treasures within, from vivid murals to antiques and royal utensils. The rest of the day is free for your own exploration.
Udaipur – Overnight Train
Begin today at the local market to collect ingredients for a cooking class, where you will learn how to prepare a traditional north Indian thali meal. A thali comprises of several dishes served on one large plate, and vary depending on which region the thali is prepared in. As you’re in Udaipur, you will make a vegetarian thali. Typical dishes include rice, dahl, vegetables, roti, papad (deep-fried flat bread), curd (yoghurt), small amounts of chutney or pickle, and a sweet dish to top it off. After all that cooking, enjoy the fruits of your labour for lunch. Afterwards, transfer by private vehicle to the Abu Road train station (approximately 3 hours). Tonight, you’ll board an overnight train bound for one of India's great cities – captivating Mumbai (approximately 16 hours). The train will depart late evening and arrive after midday tomorrow.
Arrive in Mumbai after your overnight train, reaching your hotel by mid-afternoon. Known as Bombay until its name change in 1995, Mumbai is India's commercial capital and largest city. Some would say that Mumbai is also the food capital of India. This is the heart of Marathi cuisine; however, you will also find huge culinary diversity that celebrates regional cuisines from across the country. In the late afternoon, wander down Marine Drive to Chowpatty Beach. Enjoy the sunset and snack on bhel puri (tangy puffed rice and vegetable chaat), pav bhaji (a thick vegetable curry served with bread) and other renowned Mumbai street foods.
Time for some sightseeing and soaking up the atmosphere of this incredible metropolis. Marvel at the remarkable Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat. At 140 years old, it's Mumbai's oldest laundry and, with over 1000 troughs, it is also the world’s largest open-air, human-powered one. Next, take in some of the key landmarks including the impressive World Heritage Site and historic railway station of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. For lunch, seek out a restaurant known for serving Parsi cuisine, whose community is largely concentrated in Mumbai. The Parsi peoples are descendants of Zoroastrians who are believed to have immigrated from Persia to India in the 10th century. Drop past Mumbai’s bustling Crawford Markets, and then the rest of the afternoon and the evening are free for your own food adventures. Perhaps take high tea at the iconic Taj Hotel, or stake out one of the myriad fabulous restaurants in this city which cater for all budgets – your group leader will have plenty of suggestions.