The Most Underrated Indian Foods, According To Maneet Chauhan - Exclusive

While America has a myriad of cuisine options, especially in big cities, there is still a long way to go in the food industry when it comes to bringing a greater variety of food into the American cultural consciousness. For instance, YouTuber Emily "Maangchi" Kim thinks naengmyeon is the most underrated Korean food, while "Chopped" judge Maneet Chauhan believes Indian street foods are not talked about enough. No matter which way you slice it, there are a plethora of foods that haven't taken off in the United States yet — but well-adorned chefs like Chauhan are here to change that.

In an exclusive interview with Mashed at the Sun Wine and Food Fest, she explained that although you may be able to find Indian restaurants in your city, they're barely an introduction to what Indian cuisine has to offer. "[With] Indian food in America, we've not even scratched the surface because Indian food is so vast. Each and every region has a completely different cuisine of its own. [When] we think of Indian cuisine, we think of chicken tikka masala, we think of naan, we think of dal makhani. That is not even 0.001% of what Indian cuisine is all about," she said.

So what are most Americans missing from Indian cuisine? Chauhan was happy to fill us in.

Indian street foods and regional cuisines aren't yet popular in the U.S.

According to Maneet Chauhan, chaat and regional Indian cuisines are still greatly underrepresented in the Western culinary world. Chaat — the flavorful variety of snacks often sold as street foods — isn't something that many people have yet gotten to experience, she explained. And it's more than time for regional Indian cuisines to make a splash in the wider culinary world, especially given all the outside cultural influences that contributed to those cuisines in India.

"I also think that a lot of regional Indian cuisine, like from Eastern India [and] regions in Southern India, [are underrated]," she told Mashed. "India has this incredible Goan cuisine, [which] is influenced by Portuguese [cuisine]; or poulet, influenced by French [cuisine]; or Tangra, influenced by Chinese [cuisine]." 

The Food Network star predicts that it will "take us a long time and a lot more Indian chefs" to incorporate lesser-known cuisines like these into the current food system in the West, but we're already looking forward to expanding our palates. The Spruce Eats claims that popular Eastern Indian traditional food includes momos (wontons filled with meat or veggies) and Thukpa soup, and PatelBros names foods such as dosa (a thin crepe consisting of rice and lentil batter) and idli (steamed rice cakes) as part of popular Southern Indian cuisine. Idli looks so light and fluffy that it's a wonder it's not already a popular dish in the United States — so hopefully, with chefs like Chauhan spreading the word, it won't take much longer for these cuisines to step into the spotlight.

The annual Sun Wine and Food Fest is one of the largest and most popular wine festivals in the northeastern U.S., treating guests to a vast selection of wines and delicious food pairings. Keep up with Maneet Chauhan's current projects on her Instagram page.