Thursday, May 12, 2011

Indian cuisine

Indian cuisine is the general name for foods of the Indian subcontinent, characterized by the extensive use of various spices, herbs, and other vegetables, and sometimes fruits grown in India and also for the widespread practice of vegetarianism in Indian society. Each family of Indian cuisine includes a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques. As a consequence, it varies from region to region, reflecting the varied demographics of the ethnically-diverse subcontinent.
Hindu beliefs and culture have played an influential role in the evolution of Indian cuisine. However, cuisine across India also evolved as a result of the subcontinent's large-scale cultural interactions with Mongols and Britain making it a unique blend of some various cuisines. The spice trade between India and Europe is often cited as the main catalyst for Europe's Age of Discovery. The colonial period introduced European cooking styles to India, adding to the flexibility and diversity of Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine has influenced cuisines across the world, especially those from Southeast Asia and the Caribbean.


Indian cooking derives from a 5000-year-old timeline, during which culture has changed, geographical boundaries have changed significantly leading to confusing terms such as sub-continental cuisine while other parts of a region want a separate culinary identity. Indian Cooking has however evolved significantly over time and the varying influences brought into the country by the various rulers and travelers, it has not lost its original identity, rather become richer with the assimilation of the myriad influences. This is very apparent in some of the unique regional cuisines.


The earliest formal civilizations were the Mohenjo-daro and Harappan civilizations. At around 3000 BCE, sesame, eggplant, and humped cattle had been domesticated in the Indus Valley, and spices like turmeric,cardamom, black pepper and mustard were harvested in this region concurrently. Many recipes first emerged during the initial Vedic period, when India was still heavily forested and agriculture was complemented with game hunting and forest produce. In Vedic times, a normal diet consisted of fruit, vegetables, meat, grain, dairy products and honey. Over time, some segments of the population embraced vegetarianism. This was facilitated by advent of Buddhism and a cooperative climate where variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains could easily be grown throughout the year. A food classification system that categorized any item as saatvic, raajsic or taamsic developed in Ayurveda. In this period vegetarianism also flourished throughout India, beef eating was prohibited which has become a long-standing feature in Hinduism and India.

Middle Ages

This period was the period of several North Indian dynasties, including the Gupta dynasty which was noted for its love of the arts; also known as the Golden Age of India Art. Travelers who visited India carried with them knowledge and products like tea and spices. Later India saw the period of Central Asian and Afghan conquerors. This period also saw the emergence of the Mughlai cuisine that people now associate with India. It includes the addition of several seasonings like saffron, the addition of nuts and cooking in the "Dum" or sealed pot method of cooking. 18th century saw the establishment of British rule in India. The British loved the elaborate way of eating and adapted several of the food choices to their taste and developed curry as a simple spice to help them cook dishes with Indian spice. This period resulted in the emergence of the Anglo-Indian cuisine and the emergence of certain "Raj" traditions like that of "high-tea" an elaborate late afternoon meal served with tea.

Regional cuisines

India is a diverse country, each region has its own food specialties, primarily at regional level, but also at provincial level. The differences can come from a local culture and geographical location whether a region is close to the sea, desert or the mountains, and economics. Indian cuisine is also seasonal with priority placed on the use of fresh produce.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Sea food plays a major role in the cuisines of Andaman & Nicobar, Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The Andaman & Nicobar Islands were, and still are inhabited by indigenous tribes. Since they had very little contact with the outside world, raw fish and fruits were their staple diet for a long time. However, as many people from other regions of India came and settled here, different types of food and their methods to cook came with them, and this did cast an influence on the eating habits of the people of Andaman and Nicobar. Because the population is mainly derived from migrants from regions of India, many cuisines of India can be found in the islands.


Panta Ilish – a traditional platter ofPanta bhat with fried Hilsa slice, supplemented with dried fish (Shutki), pickles (Achar), dal, green chillies and onion – is a popular serving for thePohela Boishakh festival.
Assamese cuisine is the cuisine of Assam, a state in North-East India. It is a mixture of different indigenous styles with considerable regional variations and some external influences. It is characterized by very little use of spices but strong flavors due mainly to the use of endemic exotic herbs, fruits and vegetables that are either fresh, dried or fermented. Fish is widely used, and birds like duck, pigeon etc. are very popular. Preparations are rarely elaborate—the practice of Bhuna, the gentle frying of spices before the addition of the main ingredients so common in Indian cooking, is absent in the cuisine of Assam. A traditional meal in Assam begins with a khar, a class of dishes named after the main ingredient, and ends with a tenga, a sour dish. These two dishes characterize a traditional meal in Assam. The food is usually served in bell metal utensils made by an indigenous community called Mariya. Tamul (betel nut, generally raw) and paan generally concludes the meal.


Palak paneera dish made up ofspinach and paneer cheese.
Raita is a condiment based oncurd and used as a sauce or dip.
Bihari society is not very rigid on vegetarianism, but people avoid eating non-vegetarian food daily. Bihari people typically eat boiled rice and daal with cooked vegetables during lunch, and roti during dinner. They do not usually eat roti and boiled rice together. Because of strong Hindu-Muslim heritage river fish, chicken and mutton (mainly goat mutton, since many people view lamb (sheep) meat as offensive) are the popular meats. Meat-based dishes are eaten mainly with boiled rice.Dairy products are consumed frequently throughout the year, with common foods including yoghurt (known as dahi), buttermilk (calledmattha), butter, ghee (clarified butter), and lassi. There is a custom of eating poha (flattened rice) with yoghurt and sugar. The cuisine of Bihar has some similarity with North Indian cuisine, but is also influenced by East Indian Cuisine (for example, as in Bengali cuisine, mustard oil is used in cooking). It is highly seasonal, with watery foods such as watermelon and sherbet made of pulp of the wood-apple fruit being consumed mainly in the summer months, and dry foods and preparations made of sesame or poppy seeds mainly in the winter months. Bihar is famous for Sattu Parathas, which are parathas stuffed with fried chickpea flour, Chokha (spicy mashed potatoes), Fish curry, LittiBihari Kebab, and Postaa-dana kaa halwaa. Another common dish is alu-bhujia (not to be confused with Bikaneri Bhujia, also known as rajasthanibhujia), made from potatoes cut like French-fries and cooked in mustard oil and mild spices, and eaten with roti or rice-daal. Apart from this, tangy raita made from lauki (winter melon) or unripened papaya, yoghurt, and spices (paste of green chilly, ginger, garlic and mustard) is popular in many parts of Bihar.


Dhokla is a popular Gujarati snack.
Gujarati cuisine is primarily vegetarian. The typical Gujarati Thali consists of Roti (a flat bread made from wheat flour, and called rotli in Gujarati), daal or kadhi, rice, andsabzi/shaak (a dish made up of different combinations of vegetables and spices, which may be stir fried, spicy or sweet). Cuisine can vary widely in flavor and heat, depending on a given family's tastes as well as the region of Gujarat they are from. North Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh, and South Gujarat are the four major regions of Gujarat that all bring their own style to Gujarati food. Many Gujarati dishes are distinctively sweet, salty, and spicy at the same time. The cuisine changes with the seasonal availability of vegetables. In mango season, for example, Keri no ras (fresh mango pulp) is often an integral part of the meal. The spices used also change depending on the season. Garam Masala and its constituent spices are used less in summer. Regular fasting, with diets limited to milk and dried fruits, and nuts, are commonplace. Kachori, Jilebi, undhiyu ,Kakra are some of the snacks famous in Gujarat.


Food in Haryana is prepared using no modern materials, such as added artificial flavors and preservatives. Because Haryana is rich in cattle population, milk products are extremely common.
People of Haryana are fond of food preparations such as Kadhi Pakora, Besan Masala Roti, Bajra Aloo Roti, Churma, Kheer, Bathua Raita, Methi Gajar, Singri ki Sabzi and Tamatar Chutney. All through your way to Haryana, you will come across a number of Dhabas or roadside food stalls serving food.
Lassi and Sherbat are the two popular beverages of Haryana. On many roads in Haryana,it is common to come across a booze shop, since there are a number of liquor shops in this Indian state, due to the traffic of many truck drivers.