Anthony Bourdain in India: The Complete Country Guide

While many Westerners think of India as a single, homogenous country, this couldn’t be further from the truth – and a truth well-known to Anthony Bourdain, who visited India many times.

Over the course of several trips and shows, Bourdain spent time in different parts of India, showing off its diversity of cuisine and culture; it was perhaps the latter that was more important for him to share with us back at home on our couches, as he shared in some show notes at the time.

Anthony Bourdain in India Hero

While India is a country too big to fully cover in one trip – or even in several, as Tony made – below you’ll find a guide to the places Anthony Bourdain visited in India, to help you plan a trip of your own if you’re considering one. There are certainly other cities and states one can visit beyond this guide, but true fans will love the idea of eating the same vegetarian cuisine that made Bourdain change his tune about it.

Read on for a full list of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in India, and additional links for details about the dishes he tried in each one.

Kerala

Less visited than the big cities and northern states, Kerala has become more popular with tourists in the past few decades, as word got out that it’s a tropical escape with a particularly liberal approach by the standards of Indian culture.

Anthony Bourdain visited Kerala as part of his many trips to India, and here’s where he ate during his trip:

You can click the links above to jump right to them, or check out my full guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Kerala for details about his entire trip and all the foods he ate in this tropical, coastal Indian state.

Kolkata

Known as the cultural capital of India, as well as the country’s former capital under the British Raj, Anthony Bourdain’s experience in the city of Kolkata is one of food excellence set against a backdrop of grand colonial architecture. Here are the spots where Tony ate during his visit to this Indian city:

  • Taj Bengal Hotel – After arriving by train, and enjoying freshly salted cucumber from an onboard vendor, Tony was then treated to a front-row seat at a local cock fight. Less barbaric than other parts of the world (there are no razor blade accessories here), the outcome is still the same – eat the loser. In this instance, and not to Anthony’s disappointment, there is no ending, so instead he returns to the Taj Bengal hotel, where he is served a poolside meal of roasted chicken with assorted grilled vegetables. 
  • Unknown Street Food Vendors – The next day, Tony samples Puri aloo bhaji, a dish consisting of fried flour with potatoes, vegetables, and curry, both spicy and delicious. After trying and failing to grasp the intricacies of the game of cricket (“Hit the ball with the bat…I can do that much”), he enjoys a cricket ground snack staple. Masala Muri is a puffed rice dish served with potato, and wheat crackers, served with a sugar and molasses sauce, and topped with fresh cilantro. Perfect ball game fair!
  • Unknown boat, Sundarbans delta – Traveling next to the Sundarbans area of the Ganges delta, the largest mangrove forest in the world, Bourdain experiences a slow boat trip amongst this unique landscape. On board, he is treated to a selection of dishes from the region. Brinjal Fry (eggplant coated in garam masala and shallow fried), scallion sabzi (scallions cooked with chiles and ginger), lentil daal, and a curry consisting of prawns and the locally found bhetki fish, a type of barramundi.

Mumbai

After visiting Kolkata, Bourdain then heads to Mumbai – formerly Bombay. During his visit to Mumbai, Bourdain ate at just one place, भेंडी बाजार, also called the Bhendi Bazaar. Bhendi Bazaar is one of many in the area, and is in a predominantly Muslim area. For this reason, many of the dishes Tony tries are different styles than you might find the same dish elsewhere in Mumbai or India.

Here are the foods Bourdain enjoys from various street food vendors at Bhendi Bazaar:

  • Kebabs – This is a familiar food for most of us, but Bourdain tries a decidedly unique style. The kebabs he tries are grilled skewered meat like kidneys, minced lamb, chicken tandoori, and lungs. We all know how Tony doesn’t shy away from internal organs!
  • Falooda – At Taj Mahal Cold Drink House, Bourdain sips/slurps this well-known Indian dessert drink of fresh coriander seeds, rose water, vermicelli, homemade ice cream, and milk.
  • Baida Roti – Next, he tucks into another popular Indian food: Roti. In this case, it features fried minced meat and eggs (Baida), wrapped in deliciouschapati bread (pictured above).
  • Magaj – Also called Maghaz, this is the dish Bourdain is most anxious about: brains! Specifically, Magaj/Maghaz is animal brains fried with tomatoes, onions, peppers, garam masala and spices. It looks more delicious than it sounds, but I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try it.

If you’re visiting Mumbai, its worth putting it on your must-visit list to try a few of these dishes – or countless others offered here – for yourself.

Punjab

Moving northward, the Punjab is one of two states that Tony Bourdain visited along the Pakistan border. There, he visited a few places and learned more about the different cultures in this part of India. He spent most of his time in Amiristar, and here is where he ate:

As with other Indian destinations, you can always check my full guide to the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Punjab, for details about these restaurants and what he ate at each one.

Rajasthan

Last but certainly not least, Bourdain’s first trip to India is the last on my list – alphabetically, of course. Tony also visited Rajasthan, south of Punjab; it was the state that introduced him to the varied cuisines and cultures and drew him back for all the visits that followed.

While in Rajasthan, he visited Udaipur and Jaisalmer and traveled between them. Here’s where he ate:

Again, feel free to dive deeper into my guide of places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Rajasthan for details about each one and what you can order the same as he did.

That wraps up the different destinations visited by Anthony Bourdain in India – he dove deeper into different cities and regions, and it’s certainly the case that you can too! Have any questions about the places Anthony Bourdain visited and ate in India? Let me know in the comments.

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Valerie is a travel writer currently based in Cleveland, but her favorite destinations are Alaska, London, and Jordan – only one of which Bourdain ever visited! You can find her writing on Lonely Planet, Forbes, and her travel blog, Valerie & Valise.

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