The Grand Trunk Road is one of Asia’s oldest and longest major roads. For more than two thousand years it has provided a link between the eastern- and western-parts of India’s subcontinent. It starts (or ends, depending on which way you are travelling) in Chittagong, Bangladesh, running west through West Bengal. It then heads north past Delhi and upwards through northern India. From there it continues on its journeynorth into Pakistan, past Lahore and ends in Kabul, Afghanistan.
India as a whole is filled with diversity at every corner – not least with the variety of cuisines on offer. And this can also be said of the Grand Trunk Road. Along its 2,500 km (1,600 miles) length there liesa multitude of tastes, flavours and culinary traditions – probably a few every kilometre you travel.
There’s even been a book written about the culinary journey you embark upon when you travel this road. To celebrate what represents the real food of rural India, we have compiled some of our favourite recipes from along the route.
These pan-fried stuffed peppers are jam-packed full of flavour and are popular across the whole of India. The best chillies to use are banana chillies, so called because they bear some resemblance to the fruit (although not in colour). Banana chillies are big, red and perfect for stuffing. The chillies are cut lengthwise and filled with a mixture of vegetables and spices (turmeric, mustard seeds, ginger, chillies, curry leaves to name some). Once constructed, the bulging chillies are then cooked for a couple of minutes on both sides – making sure not to lose any of the stuffing in the process.
Full of the flavours of Bengal, this dish is a mustardy fish and mango curry. Firstly, the fish is fried in a mix of ground turmeric, chilli powder and salt and put to one side. The sauce for the curry is made using mustard seeds, green chillies, onion seeds, tomatoes, cumin and sliced green mango. Once the sauce is complete, the fish is added. The dish is finished with a sprinkle of fresh coriander.
This delicious Punjabi dish is known as teetari locally, but as tandoor roasted guinea fowl to the wider audience. Even if you don’t have your own tandoor oven, you can recreate an almost authentic version of it on a barbeque. For this dish you need to marinade the guinea fowl in a mixture of vinegar, chilli powder and salt, for about 20 minutes. You then make a paste of ginger, garlic, Kashmiri chillies and yoghurt in which you marinade the meat for a further three to four hours. It is then ready for the barbie. Thread onto skewers and off you go!
If you would like to get a truly authentic taste of India that uses a tandoor rather than a barbeque, you should head to London’s oldest Indian fine dining restaurant. Here you can go on your very own culinary journey and maybe head in a new gastronomic direction.