Surviving India – how to avoid food poisoning

July 15, 2012 § 6 Comments

For many people who have not been here India might be famous for cricket, Taj Mahal, and excellent food. Well the food is excellent and very delicious and spicy, but if you truly want to enjoy it then your stomach needs to be prepared. I managed to survive six weeks without getting sick and I thought that I was invincible before I unsuspiciously walked on a land mine.

Before going to India people gladly gave me thier advices and shared stories about how they almost died in an Inidan bathroom or had to spend several weeks in a hospital bed fightng for their lifes. “Sounds fun” I thought and booked the first best flight. After some research I decided it was best to inhale some “good-for-your-stomach-youghurt” and other “good-for-your-stomach-pills” from the local pharmacy.

I had planned to go for a slow start when arriving in the new country. It did not really happen and in the first day I had lots of different chicken in different colors and different spice’s . Later in the evening I went to a street restauant to try out the local chiefs. After that I was prepared to take a few days of sick leave but then I remembered one of my friends advice to have a shot of whiskey after every meal. Sounded reasonable and my friend had also survived 1.5 years in India without getting sick, unclear if it was thanks to the alcohol but it worked well for me and might be worth to give it a try and.

I was slightly surprised when my stomach started to protest after a regular meal in one of the local restaurants nearby  my flat. I had to stay at home for a couple of days blaming the chief who somehow manage to do something terrible with my chicken. Happy back in business and a few kilos lighter I had built up some resistance against chicken in pink and brown veggies, at least what I thought. But two days later me and my co-workers invited me out to try Chat which is typical Indian street/junk food. It looked, smelled, and tasted very terrible and it was by no means a clean kitchen. After that I of course got sick again, for the second time that week.

I am not sure if there is any bullet proof strategy you can use if you want to avoid to get sick but there are some classic tips to follow:

  • Do not drink the taped water. Brush your teeth should be ok. Boiling rice, potato, eggs, veggies, meat should also be ok.
  • Go to restaurants that have people eating there. It means the restaurant (hopefully) have to cook new and fresh food to feed all guests.
  • Do not eat food that looks and smells bad (which might be tricky when the Indians cover the food with spices).
  • Drink whiskey after having bad food.
  • Do not eat Chat.
  • If you want to eat with your hands, wash them.


Maharaja Chat is a good option for Indian people to enjoy Chat or for foreigners to get sick

Doesn’t look too bad. No clean hands though

Close up pic of Chat! Now you can’t miss it when it is time to avoid it


Looks like …a mix of everything


My co-workers loves Chat

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§ 6 Responses to Surviving India – how to avoid food poisoning

  • ninagrandiose says:

    I have been traveling to India for many decades and also bring people on my own tours to India. I occasionally get sick but not from food. I have some rules that I urge all my clients to follow. One should NEVER use tap water for brushing one’s teeth. While showering it is important not to gargle or swallow the shower water and to try to avoid it getting into your ears as well-an ear infection could follow. It is best to avoid all meat, fowl and seafood except in very rare situations where those things are known to be fresh and of the best quality. It goes without saying that you should wash your hands as often as possible…I don’t drink alcohol very often while in India because it is very expensive and the domestic stuff is not so good but I don’t believe that it will have any protective benefits. It’s a lot about common sense and cleanliness.

  • bobby33353 says:

    Hello Linus…Hope you are feeling better now. I think its better that you wait until your body gets immune to Indian environment, especially food before you try any other new thing. TC :)

  • tony says:

    I travel to indian at once a year, i found avoid all milk products also.
    india is wonderful !

  • Rosanna says:

    I had exactly chat, also called puri, last night and now I think was that really the cause for my food poisoning? Vomiting, and later fever… unable to spend my day outside…. stuck in my bed and hoping to recover soon! What is bad in eating chat/puri? I sit the fat that gets contimanited in the open air or what? I wish I had seen your article before I ate it!

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