Super Foods of India

Delhi Belly

Staying healthy and keeping your energy up can be a challenge in India especially for the long term, three months+. After a few months of travel you may start to feel run down. India food is scrumptious and addictive to the taste buds, unfortunately uber tasty doesn't sit well in every one's stomach.

Here's a DIY guide to the super foods in India and staying healthy. Mostly vegetarian of course!


In every town you will find the ubiquitous orange (santaras) sellers. Freshness is another story, often they look sad and mussy, they are in fact a type of tangerine. Real oranges in India are more expensive, have a thick skin but are very tasty, but not always available because of their perceived high price. A perfect snack that you can pickup from local vendors and enjoy anytime, I'd say eat at least three per day. Important source of vitamin C.  Cost: 5-15 Rs each.





Guavas (Amrood) is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C and contains four to ten times that of oranges. They are sweet and nice when they have the red color as seen here. They'll have a sweet smell and a bit soft.  Only down fall is the seeds. I like to slice it in four or six pieces, but don't eat the skin. Season is November to January so perfect for the foreign traveler.




You'll get a great bargain on Pomegranates in India. Around 20Rs each in season.

One pomegranate has tones of vitamin C  and is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and antioxidant poly phenols, the stuff that suppose to prevent cancer. They aren't the most elegant things to eat with all the seed spitting, but i prefer this to a juice.


Rajma, Dal, pulses, good old beans. Are an excellent source of amino acids and protein. Indians love beans of all types. There are prepared in bread, soups, fried into balls.

  • Toor dal - yellow pigeon peas; available either plain or grease.
  • Chana dal - split chickpeas without seedcoat. Chana dal is produced by removing the outer layer of kala chana (black chickpeas) and then splitting the kernel.  A popular Indian snack is Channa Puri, but the puri should be hot and cooked in good oil.
  • Kabuli dal - known for its black coat, it is an average size bean. It grows in the wild with the black coat.
  • Mung dal - Mung bean
  • Urad dal black beans, 
  • Masoor dal - red lentils
  • Rajma dal - kidney beans. This is a nice dish except it will have tons of cream added, more that you will want.
  • Mussyang - Dals of various color that are found in various hilly regions of Nepal. If your in Polhara you can ask at one of the restaurants if to prepare it for you.

Whole wheat Chapati (atta)

Also whole wheat puri, nan are other choices. Fresh bread that is made instantly for you with your lunch or diner is one of the joys of life in India. Caveat: Avoid eating burned bread. If it is overly burnt ask them to make you another or pick off the burnt bits. Eating burnt food has been shown to be harmful (cancer causing.) Avoid plain white bread that is made with regular Nan, is why it cost more than atta.

Brown Rice

Unfortunately not often available to the traveler, only in Kerala state and Mangalore is it common. This is something you can request at local restaurant or cook your own. Indian do not seem to see the value in eating brown rice.

A warning however, rice in India served to you will occasional contain STONES or tiny pebbles.  You can easily crack a tooth or filling that will quickly add to your diner bill while removing any more happiness from that restaurant...It seems brown rice is the usual suspect. This is because the rice has not been cleaned thoroughly.  Small stones could be in Dal too. Actually while we're on the subject a couple of times I've found bits of metal in my food in India, i think that may have fallen in there while the cook was reaching for his whiskey bottle.

The moral of the story is look before you chew in India. Or chew as you tread - lightly.

Oat Bran


Porridge and oats are available in India either over the counter or at the tourist restaurant. Should not be confused with wheat porridge (subjee), Also muesli package may use wheat rather than oats. Buy your own oats and mix it with water, but beware of rodents at night with any food. In India they sell stainless steal tiff in packs that clamp together tighter than tupperware, mice can't get into that but they might like your ear instead.

1-2 tablespoons a day goes a long way and oat can be eating just like raw without cooking, a perfect food really. Remember to drink more water with this high fiber stuff.food_items_India_traveler_1


Good old carrots can be purchase easily in India and washed or scrapped with a small knife. Crunchy and health snack. Great for kids.


Easy to peel. Great snack, take on the train. Many vendors sell cut cucumbers covered in flies, better DIY.


You can make a wash iodine water and for your vegetables. Make a salad with some olive oil salt and pepper.


Fresh fish is a joy anywhere along the Indian coast line. Enjoy local mackerel is an excellent tasting fish as long as it is fresh. Large game fish such as tuna , swordfish may have high levels mercury as anywhere else in the world. Baracooda is another type to avoid and is often seen on the menu in Goa or Kerala.

Fresh water fish are (beka) are popular in India but i would recommend to avoid, who knows how clean the lake or river was or what chemical are used at the fish far. Also inquire as to the type fish they are serving.


Curry spices have been proven to have anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. Curry is of corse mixed with something else so too much cheese or fat maybe a problem.


Drink plenty of water when your traveling in India. Look for quality brands. Himalayan brand is sold now for 25Rs per liter import from the Kullu valley which is the only pure brand.

In 2004 a world water development report of the United Nations has categorized India among the worst countries for poor quality of water, as well as their ability and commitment to improve the situation.

Bananas (Kela)food_items_India_traveler_5

Another super food. Cheap and easy to eat any time. Try the delicious jungle bananas in India that are harvested in season from the wild. The wild bananas are short, fat and have often two large seeds in the middle. Red bannanas are found in the south. India is one of the worlds biggest banana producers with over 180 varieties to taste.



Season starts in April bringing a variey of taste Mango to India. By June you have Banginapalli, Totapuri ( as `Collecter'), Suvarnarekha(Lalpari), Kothapalli Kobbari, , Pedda Rasam, Chinna Rasam, Cheruku Rasam, Mallika , Neelam. Alphonso, Kesar, Langra, Dashehari, Fazili, Chousa, Ratole, Kaju, Mulgoa, Jahangir, Rumani, Himayat, Khatta Meetha, Panchadara Kalasa, Manjeera, Amrapali, Arkapuneet and Sindhu.  Needless to say you will not be disappoint with a mango lassie in a Mumbai June.


Wide available. Locally grown. Can be very cheap 15 Rs for a large Papaya. Good for stomach problems or fatigue with traveling.




A super food that is available in most shops all over India 100Rs/100g. Cashews are also used in yummy Korma curry base.


cashew nuts, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 550 kcal   2310 kJ
Carbohydrates 30.19 g
- Sugars  5.91 g
- Dietary fiber  3.3 g
Fat 43.85 g
Protein 18.22 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1)  .42 mg 32%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)  .06 mg 4%
Niacin (Vit. B3)  1.06 mg 7%
Pantothenic acid (B5)  .86 mg 17%
Vitamin B6  .42 mg 32%
Folate (Vit. B9)  25 ?g 6%
Vitamin C  .5 mg 1%
Calcium  37 mg 4%
Iron  6.68 mg 53%
Magnesium 292 mg 79%
Phosphorus  593 mg 85%
Potassium  660 mg 14%
Zinc  5.78 mg 58%


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0 # Ron 2009-09-18 12:35
Very helpful! I'm hungry now.
0 # Apr 2009-11-01 06:08
Just short of being ridiculous (due to inclusion of Guava).

Where in the list is the cheapest and inarguably the most potent of all Indian super foods AMLA (Indian Gooseberry)?



Indian Blackberry? (Jamun)
0 # Apr 2009-11-01 06:10
Oh! read 'Thanks to inclusion of Guava'
+1 # emmanuel ferre 2009-11-04 11:20
When I read some of your comment about the destruction of the nature by the tourist activity in Goa Beach and just find out what you write about Cashews : "A super food"...
Did you know that in Goa, and around, illegal Cashews plantation is responsible of most of the jungle deforestation !!!
More that mining which is already one of the main pollution for the state !!!

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