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Eating & Food (India, Nepal & Bhutan)


India - One of the great myths about India is that the food is of poor quality and always hot and spicy. This is definitely not the case! In fact, North Indian dishes whilst often very rich and indeed spicy don’t contain as much chilli as South Indian dishes. Indian cuisine is predominately vegetarian; however more meat (chicken and lamb) dishes are available in the North.

Bhutan - Rice, buckwheat, and increasingly maize, are the staple foods of the country. The local diet also includes pork, beef, yak meat, chicken, and mutton. Soups and stews of meat and dried vegetables spiced with chilies' and cheese are prepared. Ema datshi, made very spicy with cheese and chilli, might be called the national dish for its popularity and the pride that Bhutanese have for it. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows, are also popular, and indeed almost all milk is turned to butter and cheese. Popular beverages include butter tea, tea, locally brewed rice wine and beer. Bhutan is the only country in the world to have banned the sale of tobacco.

Nepal - The Nepalese cuisine is influenced by the nation’s mixed cultures. However, you can expect mainly vegetarian based dishes; typically a dish called daal bhat tharkari, which translated literally means lentil soup, rice and curried vegetables. Chicken, mutton or pork is also typically served in most hotels. Newari (culture from the Kathmandu Valley) food is quite spicy with chilli a favourite while Nepali food is not as spicy. Do not buy food from street vendors and make sure all vegetables are cooked and fruit peeled (after being washed). 

Meal Inclusions

The cost of all meals is included in our Classic group tours. You may like to drink beer, soft drinks, fruit juice or bottled water with your meals – please note drinks are not included in your tour price so payment for these is to be made directly to the restaurant staff.

On Go Beyond tours, private tours and group tour independent extensions, meal inclusions are listed in your itinerary.

Breakfast is served in the hotel and usually includes western dishes. As is traditional across India, lunch and dinner consists of small dishes of local cuisine which are prepared and brought out to the table for everyone to share, so you can experience a variety of speciality dishes. We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people and so the food is not too spicy.

On our group tours, we use a variety of local and hotel restaurants, which provide variety in both the dishes and methods of cooking. If you like Indian food from home, you will have no problems with the real Indian food as it is similar, only more flavoursome. You’ll love it; though don’t expect to lose weight on your holiday, Indians love to eat and eat big. In tourist centres, some restaurants and hotels may also serve western dishes to provide variety. You may also prefer to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars and tea/coffee from home.

Drinks will be at each tour member’s own expense. Beer is widely available and cheap. Wine lovers should remember that western style wine is very expensive to import into India, so is not stocked, except by upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice, fruit juices or lassies (yoghurt based sweet or salty drinks) from a trusted restaurant; where they will use boiled or bottled water to prepare ice and drinks. Tea is very popular and Indians simply love visiting the many street stalls which brew chai (also known as masala), a sweet, spiced tea brewed with boiling milk. Hotels will usually serve tea and instant coffee at breakfast or other meals – you can usually request the chai or masala style tea as well.

Packed meals

On some days, your National Escort/Local Guide may arrange for a simple, packed meal for your group. It may be a matter of schedule (on long driving days), hygiene (on train journeys), or your location (in remote areas) and we ask you to bear this in mind. Although this is not a full meal, most of our passengers seem to enjoy this change from the large portions and more elaborate banquets enjoyed most days.

Food allergies/dietary requests

Any food allergies and dietary requests MUST be specified at the time of booking and should be reiterated to the National Escort/Guide when you meet them. They will do their utmost to cater for any special requests, such as vegetarian meals or food to be avoided in case of allergies.

People on restricted diets should expect complications in India and unfortunately we can give no guarantee that special requirements can be met. Vegetarians will have no problems.

Please be aware that on some days where a lot of sights are covered, dinner times may be early (around 5.30pm) and your tour group may head directly to the restaurant after sightseeing.
Additionally, long driving distances or flight times, for example, may delay/alter your mealtime.

Whilst travelling away from major cities, it is highly recommended that those passengers with food intolerances take additional food items with them as not all dietary requests will be met due to the limited foods available.