India is a magnetic country with a cuisine rich in tastes and ingredients. We usually associate Indian food with lots of species and herbs. And it’s absolutely fair. The traditional Indian recipes feature many spices as well as grains, vegetables and fruits.
Undoubtedly, like many other cuisines around the world, the Indian one was formed under the influence of different civilizations and cultures. Moreover, the dishes may differ in various regions. Let’s dig a little deeper and find out more about one of the brightest cuisines in the world.
Peculiarities of Indian Food
As we have already mentioned, modern Indian cuisine is a blend of local traditions with the touches of Persian, Mongolian, East Asian, Greek, Arab and European cultures. Religion influenced its dishes as well. Thus, as Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions are the most widespread in the country, many people are vegetarians. Approximately, 20-40% of the population never eats meat.
Basically, many Indian recipes are famous for a great range of species. The most widespread are chili pepper, garlic, coriander, ginger, black mustard seed, cumin, asafoetida, turmeric and fenugreek. The Indians also love to mix various spices. For instance, garam masala is a powder, which consists of several different spices. The choice of the ingredients for garam masala may differ, but very often, they are cardamom, cinnamon and clove.
Besides, healthy Indian recipes use leaves of bay, mint, fenugreek and coriander. If to talk about sweets, they may feature cardamom, nutmeg, saffron and rose petals.
The main ingredients of Indian food are rice and whole wheat flour called atta. Also, many types of legumes are used, including red lentil, Bengal gram as well as green, black and yellow gram. The legumes can be whole, split and in the form of flour.
Vegetable oils, such as groundnut, mustard, coconut and sesame ones, are used for fried dishes. The other widespread type of oil is Vanaspati ghee, a hydrogenated vegetable oil. It’s an alternative to clarified butter called Desi ghee.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in India, tea is the most widespread beverage. It’s often prepared with spices such as cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Milk is also a common addition to tea. Coffee is another popular drink. Also, Indians like drinking nimbu pani (lemonade), lassi (mix of yogurt, water, ice, salt, pepper and spices), chaach (yogurt-based drink), badam doodh (mix of mil, nuts and cardamom), sharbat (fruit or flower petal juice) and coconut water. The alcoholic beverages include beer, bhang, fenny and palm wine.
How Indian Cuisine Differs in Various Regions?
Though there are many common features in the Indian recipes from various regions, there are even more differences. So, let’s see how the cuisine differs in various parts of the country.
The cuisine in the Northern regions is based on lentils and vegetables. Also, many dairy products are featured, including milk, yogurt, clarified butter and paneer. The dishes often contain chilli, saffron and nuts.
This region is known for having different types of bread, including flat breads roti and paratha, tandoor breads naan and kulcha, fried breads puri and bhatoora. If to talk about meat, chicken, goat and lamb are the most widespread. Tandoori chicken and various types of kebabs are common dishes.
Popular snacks and side dishes are mirchi bada, bhujiya, chaat, kachori and different pickles. The most usual sweets are gulab jamun, jalebi, peda, petha, rewdi, gajak, bal mithai, singori, kulfi, falooda, khaja, ras malai, gulkand, laddu, barfi and halwa.
The Southern cuisine is the most low-calorie one and is the best choice if you seek for healthy Indian recipes. It features many dishes made of rice, including dosas, vadas, idlis and uttapams, which are a combination of rice and lentils.
The other common dishes are sambar (vegetable stew), rasam (tamarind juice or tomato soup), pickles, poori, bonda, bajji and hyderabadi biryani. The dwellers of this region love to use coconut, especially the coconut oil.
A curious fact about the Tamil food is that each main meal should consist of six tastes, which are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Such a mixture is believed to have a good impact on health as the meal is more balanced and contributes to good digestion.
The other interesting tradition of the Indian South is serving food on banana leaves. As a rule, such a meal contains rice and some vegetable dishes like kootu, rasam, sambar and dry curry.
The food traditions in the West India are very different and can be divided into three groups: Gujarati, Maharashtrian and Goan. The Maharashtrian cuisine in the coastal regions includes rice, fish and coconut. Meanwhile, in the hills, the diet is principally based on jowar, bajra and groundnut.
The majority of Gujarati people are vegetarians. The dishes stand out by a sweet taste due to the use of sugar. The other peculiarity of the region is the use of lemon, lime and tomato because of the hot climate. The most popular dishes are Rotli (flat bread), daal or kadhi, rice, sabzi/shaak (vegetables with spices), pickles, Khichdi (rice with lentils/beans) and chhaas (buttermilk).
The Goan food is based on rice, fish and seafood as well as vegetables, lentils, pumpkins, gourds, bamboo shoots and roots. It’s not so spicy as the food in other regions
The Eastern regions are known for their sweets. Among the most popular ones are rasagolla, chumchum, sandesh, rasabali, chhena poda, chhena gaja and kheeri. The other peculiarity is the use of poppy seeds for some dishes.
Many recipes feature cumin paste, green chilli, black cumin, mustard and cumin seeds. The main dishes include bata (paste), bhaja (fries), chochchoree (vaporized curry), jhol (thin spicy curry) and are usually served with rice either plain or spiced. Besides, side dishes consisting of vegetables are served. The most famous one is Sukto. Moreover, dwellers of the East often have fish in their diet.
All in all, you see that Indian recipes are absolutely diverse in their tastes. Being famous for its spicy meals, the food of this country contains an incredible choice of sweets and desserts. So, if you still don’t know what the Indian cuisine is about, it’s the right time to taste it.
Bio: Oliver Perez is an outstanding writer of his niche that takes the inspiration from his own experience. He is a loving father and a reliable husband
- What You Need to Know about Healthy Indian Cuisine - January 15, 2019