India’s vibrant culture, tradition and heritage often attracts people from all over the world. Cities in India like Agra, Jaipur, Goa, Kashmir, Kerala, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mysore, Darjeeling, etc., are some of the popular tourist destinations in India.
India is a tropical country with diverse climate features and there are chances of foreign tourists being exposed to a variety of germs, bacteria and viruses. If you are planning to visit India, you need to take certain precautions, especially in terms of food, to stay healthy and safe.
Following are some tips that help you stay healthy and avoid falling sick while travelling in India.
Food – What to eat and what to avoid
Avoid eating street food: Many cities in India like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad are famous for street food. The Chandni Chowk area in Delhi is popularly called as ‘Street Food Capital of Delhi’. You will find a variety of snack items like Pani Puri, Pav Bhaji, Bhel Puri, Samosa, etc., in these areas. They look colourful and are tempting. Try them if the premises are clean and hygienic. But in most cases it’s better to avoid because we can’t guarantee the quality and hygiene. There are chances of the food being contaminated.
Avoid eating spicy food: India is the country of spices and the people here like to add spices in many of their dishes that make them hot and spicy. Especially some Indian cuisines like Hyderabadi cuisine that includes Biryani, Tandoori Chicken, Keema, Masala Tea, etc., Goan cuisine from Goa includes Murgh Malvani, Phanasachi Bhaji; Gujarati cuisine, Kerala cuisine are popular for their spicy dishes. People who are not used to them cannot handle them.
So, whenever you are ordering food at a restaurant or at a food stall ask the server to make the dish less spicy or else go for less spicy food like Fried rice, Idli, sweet dishes, Dokla, Daal Bhati, etc.
Avoid eating raw vegetables and fruits: Some restaurants and food stalls in India use tap water (supplied by local government) to wash vegetables and fruits (sometimes they may not wash). This water is more likely to get contaminated during its transit through various pipelines. Moreover, we are not sure whether the knives they use are sterile or not. So, it’s better to avoid raw fruits or vegetables that will be served as salads with most Indian dishes.
Eat freshly cooked food served steaming hot: In many countries, people are used to cold meals, but it is better to prefer steaming hot food in India, especially when you are having dishes that are boiled in water or steamed like Rice, Idli, Upma, etc. Make sure you ask the server to serve it fresh and hot. When the food is fresh and hot, it is less likely to carry food borne pathogens.
Avoid buffets: In many restaurants in India, morning’s unsold food will be served in the dinner buffets. Unless you have a good review for hygiene of a restaurant from travel guide like ‘Lonely Planet’, don’t take the risk. Stick to what is recommended because you will be sure on the hygienic conditions of the restaurants.
Avoid cold dairy products: In India, many restaurants prepare dishes with dairy products like yogurt, paneer, cheese, milk, etc. Yogurt is served as a side dish for many of the dishes like Indian Thali, Biryani, etc. As cold dairy products are prone to contamination, better to avoid them.
Eat at international food chains: The best thing to avoid all this is to eat at international food chains like KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, Domino’s Pizza, etc., that are available across India. Make sure you buy dishes that are customized to India like Rice Bowlz, Aloo Tikki Burger – after all, you are in India you need to try Indian dishes.
Beverages – What to drink and what to avoid
When travelling in India, you need to be very careful while choosing unpacked beverages, as they may be contaminated. Take a look at some of the beverages to avoid.
Avoid drinking tap water: As discussed earlier, water is supplied by local government and it may not be safe to consume.
Drink only bottled water: Go for reputed brands like Bisleri, Kinley, Aquafina, Himalayan or Bailey’s, and check if the cap is sealed.
Avoid ice cubes: While ordering cold beverages like cool drinks, fruit juices, sugarcane juice, etc., ask them to serve without adding ice cubes. Many restaurants use tap water to prepare ice cubes.
Avoid drinking at road-side juice stalls: Avoid drinking lassi (spiced and sweetened butter milk), fruit juices, sugarcane juice, cold yogurt, etc., on the street. Don’t get tempted by seeing the crowd at the stall. Better to go for branded and packaged juices or to the stalls that are hygienic.
Coconut water: India is a land of coconuts. In cities like Kerala, Cochin, Goa, Hyderabad, etc., coconuts are available throughout the year. Though the coconut water is good for rehydrating the body, the sickle may not be sterile. So, better to avoid the water unless you see the sickle is clean.
Hope, this information helps you while travelling in India. Have a wonderful vacation!