Street-snacking (Mumbai): You need to be cautious about where you stop to indulge your curiosity and sample the overwhelming variety of street snacks available just about anywhere in India. In Mumbai -- surely one of the world's great cities for street food -- there are numerous casual eateries where you can sample mouth-watering, totally addictive pani puri (a crisp, deep-fried flour ball, hollowed-out and filled with taste-bud-tingling morsels) made with filtered water, and vada pav (a bun stuffed with spiced fried potato). And if dining street side is beyond you, you can always head to the Taj Mahal Palace's Sea Lounge for high tea, when traditional street snacks form part of the formidable buffet.
Bumping into a Bollywood Idol (Mumbai): Nowhere in India is dining more rewarding than in Mumbai, where the streets are filled with literally thousands of restaurants representing every kind of Indian cuisine. But if it's star-gazing you're after, head for places like the Olive Bar and Kitchen restaurant in Bandra or Enigma nightclub in Juhu. Alternatively, hang out at Leopold Café; casting agents looking for foreigners to work as extras frequently scan the clientele at this favored travelers' hangout.
Eating Alphonso Mangoes in Mumbai: You may have eaten mangoes in Mexico, Thailand, or even in other parts of India, but until you've had an Alphonso from Ratnagiri in rural Maharashtra, you'll be missing a sensory experience like no other. The king of mangoes has a succulent bright orange pulp, bewitching scent, and divine flavor.
Eating with Your Hands: Though it may initially go against the grain, there's something immensely rewarding about digging into a delicious meal with your hands. Indians generally do, and -- at least once -- you should follow suit. Note that ideally you only use your right hand, and in the north, where the food is "drier," you are traditionally not supposed to dirty more than the first two digits.
Sipping a Sweet Lassi: A delicious drink of liquefied sweetened yogurt, this is almost a meal in a glass and should definitely be sampled (some of the best we've tried were in Amritsar, Goa, and Jaipur). Do, however, make sure that no water has been added (including ice), and beware the bhang lassi -- spiced with marijuana; it can make the usually dreamlike scenes of India a little too out of this world.
Dining Alfresco on the Rooftop Terrace of the Taj Lake Palace (Taj Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur): There's something very surreal about a romantic candlit dinner on the roof of the Lake Palace Hotel. It's as if you're watching television at the same time: the History Channel in an IMAX theater, staring directly across the water at the uplit 16th-century City Palace whilst sipping champagne and eating organic, free range lal maas. Be sure to press "record."
Sampling Bod-Jha, Tibetan Butter Tea, with a Buddhist Monk (Leh, Ladakh): Many people gag at the taste of butter tea, made with salt and -- you guessed it -- a good dollop of the clarified butter known as ghee. It's an acquired taste, but if you get the hang of it, sipping the buttery concoction with a friendly Buddhist monk when you visit one of the many monasteries tucked in the lunar landscapes around Leh is a truly memorable experience.
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