10 Dishes in India That Might Leave You Puzzled

Rice seasoned with blood, cannabis-flavoured milk, fish sprinkled with distilled ash and fermented potatoes eaten as vegetables, India is home to some rare delicacies.
India is home to some rare food cultures
India is home to some rare food cultures

From Puranpoli of Mumbai to Sarson da saag and Makke di Roti of Punjab, India is a melting pot of mouth-watering delicacies. While most of us are aware of freshly made spicy coriander chutney, few of us know about a paste prepared from red ants savoured in some parts of Chattisgarh. These recipes, which may or may not be relishing to all, are certainly worth knowing more about. 

Lepchas Frog Dish

While some could never imagine a frog on an Indian plate, the Lepchas, a tribe that lives in the mountain valleys of Sikkim can certainly do. Marinated, battered and fried legs of a frog are an exotic delicacy for the tribe who believes it possesses a medicinal value that can cure stomach-related illness. As per some studies, the tribe used to engage in hunting practices to survive in the not so fertile regions of Sikkim. Later they had turned to cultivation but the practice of harvesting the amphibians is still much prevalent among them. The Indian Bullfrog is also a monsoon delicacy in Goa where it is popularly called the &lsquojumping chicken&rsquo.


While bamboo is often associated with bags and baskets, it also renders itself easily to the Indian palate. Bambusa Balcooa is an edible variation of bamboo that is indigenous to Northeast India. Prepared from young bamboo shoots, the dish is quite popular in some areas of the North East. Known under different names, the shoot is associated with many health benefits such as preventing heart disease and cancer. The dish is prepared by cutting a tender shoot of bamboo, slicing the outer layers, grinding or chopping it and then allowing it to ferment for a while. The shoot can be made into a pickle or can go well with fish curry and pulses.


While red ants are often dreaded for their stinging bites, it is so hard to imagine them making a delectable paste. In parts of Chattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand, red ants and their eggs form a sought after chutney that is palatable. The harvesters bring in the female ants and their eggs which are crushed and dried thereafter. This is followed by the addition of tomatoes and spices like coriander, garlic, ginger, chilli et al to make it into a thick paste. The chutney is served in markets in sal leaves.

Eri Polu

This unique dish hails from tribal areas of Assam. While the silkworm larvae are often associated with silk, few know that they serve as a delectable dish in the area. Once the silk is extracted out of the cocoon, the leftover pupa, which is already soft, is flavoured with spices and cooked with bamboo shoots. The dish has a crunchy covering and a soft inside. The dish is a popular delicacy among the tribes.


The dish is popular among the Garo tribe of Meghalaya. Though fish is widely enjoyed in the area, this unique delicacy needs a mention for its unusual ingredients. The dried fish is mixed with rice and served with onions, coriander, garlic and burnt powdered and distilled wood ash. The dish has the aroma of a dried fish but tastes exotic to those who consume it.

Phan Pyut

Though potatoes are an irreplaceable ingredient of most dishes, eating rotten tubers could be a far-fetched idea for most. Another popular delicacy is one where over riped tubers are left to rot in the soil and then picked thereafter to be treated with spices. The dish is then eaten as a standalone meal or side dish.

Rat Meat

A popular delicacy among the marginalized Musahar tribe of Bihar finds a place in the list of the oddest foods in the country. The tribe is known to be a traditional rat eating community and usually hunt rats in paddy fields. While it is hard to imagine those long-tailed rodents in your plates, the tribe is known to consume rat meat as a delicacy.


Another unique dish coming from Meghalaya looks like biryani and is popular among the Khasi tribe of the area. In their language, the word &lsquoJadoh&rsquo stands for meat rice. While most variations of the dish are cooked in pork fat but there is a local variation that is cooked in carefully chosen chicken blood. The dish makes use of minimum spices and oil.

Bhang Thandai

With consumption of narcotic substances illegal in the country, a special drink in North India, associated with Maha Shivratri and Holi is prepared with cannabis leaves ( popularly known as marijuana). The ingredients include milk, saffron, sugar, rose petals and leaves extract of the cannabis. The drink has psychoactive effects and causes temporary euphoria.

Fire Paan

Chewing betel leaves is not an unusual sight in India. It is common to see betel leaves consumed with spices and berries but it becomes a rare eatable when consumed with a burning flame. The paan is made of spices, dried fruits, nuts, sugar, cloves and ice which is then set on fire and put straight into the mouth of the customer. The fire lasts for a second or two and gets extinguished as soon it enters the mouth. The ice and clove cool down the mouth, thus causing no burning sensation. The paan was famous in Delhi and Mumbai but now is popular in many other places.

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