India is a veritable explosion of culture, colours and delicious local cuisine. Buy fresh spices at the local markets, marvel at the architecture of the famous Taj Mahal and discover everything that makes this country so fascinating.
From milder, coconut-based dishes to blow-your-socks-off spicy – you can’t leave India without trying at least one authentic curry with all the trimmings.
Butter chicken: This Punjabi dish is perfect for anyone who has a slightly lower spice tolerance. A tomato base is complemented by chicken marinated in yogurt and a whole load of butter. The result is a rich flavour without the heat of many other Indian dishes.
Best enjoyed with: Rice and Aloo Gobi, a potato and cauliflower dish.
Rogan Josh: Chunks of boneless lamb are served with red chilli, yogurt and Indian spices in this flavoursome Kashmiri curry. Some restaurants skip the chilli and use capsicums and tomato to achieve the deep red flavour instead, giving you varying levels of heat.
Best enjoyed with: Rice and lots of Indian bread for dipping.
Seafood curry: If you’re visiting India’s coastal regions such as Goa or Bengal, make sure you don’t leave without trying a fish curry. Using fresh seafood, the tastes and ingredients vary from place to place, but one thing’s certain – it will always be delicious.
Best enjoyed with: A view of the ocean. You can add samosas and other deep-fried sides, but all this dish really needs is a bit of rice.
Tea is big business in India – the country consumes around 837,000 tonnes of it per year, often to support health as well as for enjoyment. With so many varieties to sample, we defy you to run out of new flavours during your trip.
Masala Chai: Chai is the national drink of India and something you have to try while visiting the country. It has a very sweet taste and is made with milk, sugar and spices including cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and pepper.
Health benefits: It’s been claimed that the spices in chai can help with heart health, digestion and reduce blood sugar levels. However, it’s best to stick to unsweetened varieties, as some cups of chai contain a lot of sugar.
Lemongrass tea: This refreshing tea has a strong citrus flavour and is simply made using the lemongrass stalks and hot water. You can also serve an iced version with a slice of lemon as a cooling drink in the Indian heat.
Health benefits: Fresh lemongrass is said to have antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, which is great if you’re feeling a bit under the weather. It’s also believed the tea can aid digestion, so enjoy a cup after a heavy meal (such as all those Indian curries you’ll be trying!).
Assam tea: This is a black tea named after the Indian region it’s produced in, Assam. It’s often a component of English Breakfast tea and has a strong, malty flavour. You can add milk and honey or sugar if the flavour is too strong for you.
Health benefits: Some studies show that Assam tea can help boost the metabolic rate, meaning it could act as a weight-loss aid (provided you’re not loading it up with sugar, of course).
Image caption: The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra
India takes five-star luxury to new levels with its stunning hotel buildings and dedicated waitstaff. So, go ahead and treat yourself to the best of the best.
The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra: Named the Best Resort Hotel in India in the 2018 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, you can expect nothing short of perfection at The Oberoi Amarvilas. Located just 600m from the Taj Mahal, this luxury property offers incredible views of the famous monument and a dedicated buggy service for when you want to see it up close. Even the on-site spa’s therapy rooms have uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal, meaning you can marvel at it while enjoying a massage.
The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai: Since 1903 The Taj Mahal Palace has been the go-to hotel for the very best of Indian luxury. Overlooking the Gateway of India, dignitaries and royalty from all over the world have stayed in its opulent surrounds. Located a short walk from local shops and attractions, the hotel also hosts ten of the area’s best restaurants and bars – meaning you’re never far from a gourmet meal or handcrafted cocktail.
The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur: This stunning resort is set in two acres of breathtaking landscaped gardens, boasting exotic trees and birdlife. Discover the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda at the dedicated on-site spa, which offers healing therapies that have been used for centuries. Expect therapeutic massages using oils specifically balanced to match your body’s energy that will leave you feeling relaxed and revitalised.
Of course this stunning building, which was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz, is an attraction all on its own. But did you know there are lots of activities you can plan alongside simply viewing the Taj Mahal?
Yoga: Catch glimpses of the Taj Mahal while perfecting your downward dog in this one-hour yoga class, led by a professional instructor. This session aims to relax and is suitable for both beginners and more experienced yogis.
Check availability here.
Photography boat ride: Keen photographers will love this boat trip on the river Yamuna, which is offered at sunrise and sunset for your best chance of snapping the Taj Mahal in all its glory. Expect to spend around 20 minutes on the water, with return rickshaw ride from your hotel included.
Check availability here.
Dine with a view: What could be more romantic than sharing a gourmet dinner with the one you love on a private balcony, with the unmistakable silhouette of the Taj Mahal in the distance? Available at the The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, you can expect the table to be set with candles and flowers and a personal butler who will serve you from a bespoke menu.
More details here.
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