India Survival Guide

India: Food and Drink Safety for Travellers

Food and drink have the potential to wreck 4 to 7 days of your trip in India while you recover in bed (or on the throne). Stomach infections, aka Delhi Belly, are the primary ailment travellers face on their trip.

I’ve had several cases of different stomach infections from food and water over the years. If you’re in India for long periods you’ll fall sick at some point. Invariably, someone in your travel group usually suffers from stomach issues while in India.

But, there are a lot of precautions you can take to limit it as much as possible.

First, make sure you’re at the restaurant you intended to go to! There are counterfeit food shops in India.

Indians have a strong stomach that has a natural resistance to all sorts of parasites. My wife and I can eat the same thing, but only I get sick from it. So just because a restaurant is frequented by locals does not mean it’s suitable for foreign stomachs.

I was caught out by this at a very busy and famous milkshake store in Connaught Place. An Indian friend and I shared the same drink, guess who was sick for five days?

Rules to avoid stomach problems in India

This will help you understand what “Chaat” is in India. Those lovely sweet and savoury dishes you’ll see all Indian devouring on the street.


  • Sealed bottled water. Check the seal when buying. Good brands include:
    • Bisleri
    • Kinley
    • Aquafina
  • Filtered water from RO (reverse osmosis) filter systems.
  • Hot boiled beverages.
  • Pasteurized milk.

Don’t drink:

  • Ice.
    • You never know what water it’s made from.
    • Sometimes waiters will lie when they don’t know if it’s made from clean water or not.
  • Tap water.
  • Drinks you suspect are made with tap water. Ask if the restaurant uses filtered water.
  • Unpasteurized milk (boil it before drinking to pasteurize it).
  • Water from water coolers with a large unbranded bottle on top.
It’s up to you if you want to drink gau mutra (cow urine). I tried it. It costs more than milk in India.


  • Food served piping hot.
  • Well-cooked meats.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables you have washed and peeled yourself.
  • Food from clean restaurants with clean utensils.
You’ll be eating at a lot of Dhabas (roadside restaurants)! Here’s how to eat at one.

Don’t eat:

  • Be careful of bones in the meat! Especially the thin sharp ones in fish.
  • Packaged food that has expired. Always check the best before date.
  • Food from street stalls. You can try all these delicacies at clean restaurants like Haldiram’s or Bikanervala.
  • Unclean raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Undercooked meats.
  • Unpasteurized dairy products.
My most incredible food tour in India. Priests actually cook this food daily at this temple in Odisha.

Have a question about food in India? Leave it in the comments.

India Survival Guide Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Travel Essentials: Before You Travel to India
  3. Arriving in India: Getting to Your Hotel & Airport Amenities
  4. Tourist Scams to Avoid in India
  5. Avoiding Fake Money & Ripped Notes in India
  6. Avoiding Bad Accommodation
  7. How to Bargain, Get Refunds, and How Much Rickshaws Cost
  8. Avoiding Counterfeit Souvenirs in India
  9. How to Be Street Smart in India
  10. Buses and Trains in India Explained
  11. Food and Drink Safety for Travellers
  12. What to Do If You Get Sick in India
  13. How to Deal with Air Pollution in India

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

7 replies on “India: Food and Drink Safety for Travellers”

Karl, this website is epic. Thank you! If you only had 2 days in Delhi, passing through, where would you head for a really great (and safe!) food experience? 🙂 (Staying in South Delhi, near Lotus Temple)

Hello Karl, how does one know that the glass has been washex in clean (purified for our Australian stomachs)? If one wants to floss the teeth, do you have to wash them in purified water? How do you recognize those reversed osmosis filters in restaurants and elsewhere? Thank you for your help, regards Danny

Hey Danny. It’s impossible to know, really. Stick to bottled water or fill your water bottle up from a filter yourself. Use bottled water to brush your teeth too. You can buy 5L bottles of water here and leave it in your hotel room and just keep refilling your drink bottle from it. As for cultery, I usually just clean them with a tissue paper before using it to eat – it’s all you can do really. Eat at better quality restaurants to avoid any issues. Best not to take any risks because a stomach infection can wreck your holiday. Have a good trip!

Leave a Reply