In order to understand the Indian cuisine,one needs to understand the region and it’s culture, as when it comes to food in India it is anything but homogeneous. In India, Hindus and Muslims are the two major settlers and each has brought its own culinary method. North, East, South and West are the four different main regional styles in Indian cooking. North India is influenced by the moghul’s rich and spicy gravy served with bread.
South Indian food, on the other hand, is rice dominant. Rice is eaten at all meals, and lunch is often three courses, again each served with rice. The common thread of this region is coconut which is often considered as a mascot of this region as most of the dishes prepared have a generous amount of coconut in them.
The Western region consisting of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Goa all having unique food experiences. Parsi’s have a rich diet of chicken and seafood, unlike Jains, who are strictly vegetarian for religious reasons. Gujarati’s are predominately vegetarians and Gujarat is celebrated for being one of the best places to eat vegetarian food. Similarly, the eastern states such as West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, and Jharkhand are quite different from each other. Bengali cuisine can be described as delicate and subtle, with fish and rice at the center of the diet.
From North to South or East to West, Indian cuisine seems to be only united by its locale, but its flavor is clearly boundless.Indian food is lauded for its curries, spices and complex flavor. The mix of these spices and condiments results in a taste which is unlike anything tasted in any part of the world. Together, they help form the pillars of what tastes so good to so many people.
So what makes India food so distinguished and novel? Based on research by Indian Institute of Technology it was found that the Indian cuisine has many different flavors which does not have overlapping flavors when compared to any western cuisine where ingredients are used together to get a similar flavor. It is also said that the average India dish contains 7 ingredients.
Therefore with all the exotic ingredients the result is a spicy tongue tingling dish which can be both exciting and intimidating.
In general, there are a handful of spices which are commonly used in dishes which in turn can be used in infinite ways. Most of these spices used for cooking have a varied number of health benefits which makes it so much more interesting
A common misconception is that all Indian dishes are curry(gravy) based and extremely spicy.
Curries can be watery or dry, it can be hot or bland all of which depends on the cook and kind of dish he is making. The added bonus of Indian cooking are for the vegetarians. For them, it’s one of the friendliest cuisines around. A judicious use of these spices can turn the likes of potatoes, lentils, okra, eggplant and spinach into a dish that can convert a die-hard meat lover into a vegetarian.
Having said that and not to take anything away from non-vegetarian’s, a roasted chicken or a chicken tikka even a grilled sea food cooked with a heavy dose of cumin, ginger, garam masala can make light up your taste buds. With its array of spices and condiments, Indian cuisine allows home cooks to get creative and adventurous. Play around with basic dishes and flavors and you’ll find it’s an easy way to shake up your usual dinner repertoire.
One needs to remember that your food can only be as good as the ingredients you start with, but you don’t need the most expensive ingredients.