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The Basics of Indian Cuisine

Jun 10, 2008
Indian cuisine, like the country India, is a rich blend of tastes and flavors. It is world re-owned for the combination of herbs and spices that provide it the distinct characteristic and the rich taste. The Indian cuisine due to its tastes has now crossed over the physical boundaries and several Indian dishes like the chicken tikka masala are now an accepted part of world cuisine. However, there is much more to the Indian cuisine than the popularly accepted dishes.

It is truly a cuisine that denotes unity in diversity. With diverse cooking techniques, spices, ingredients and flavors from different parts of the country the Indian cuisine is all about a blend of ingredients that is a lip smacking delight.

The diversities in Indian recipes are mainly a reflection of the different regions, cultures, traditions and religious beliefs. The Indian cuisine has also gained from different cultures like the rule of the Mughals and the coming of the Portuguese all contributed to the richness of the Indian cuisine. The pilafs, kebabs, biriyanis are all a contribution of the Mughal culture. It is a concoction of rich gravies, curries, vegetables and dishes that are cooked with fish, chicken, goat and lamb.

The religious beliefs of the Hindus make beef a taboo and pork is a strict no for Muslims. Jains on the other hand, keep away from all roots in their diet. Food forms a connecting link between the various communities, religions and also the different parts of the country. The Indian cuisine differs from one region to the other. Although the basic ingredients remain more or less the same, the method of preparation differs greatly.

On the basis of regions, the Indian recipes can be divided into North Indian, East, West and South Indian. In the average Indian home, meal time is very important. This is when the entire family sits down and shares the happenings of the day. The young and the old share their experiences and enjoy the flavors of a tastefully made meal.

Breakfast in Indian homes depends a great deal on the particular region to which the family belongs and also their individual tastes and preferences. In a North Indian home, for instance, breakfast would generally consist of parathas (Indian bread) stuffed or otherwise, puris or baturas (Indian bread deep fried in oil).

Rotis or other types of Indian bread are very popular in the northern part of India. Rotis are either prepared using a tava, tandoor or are deep fried in oil. Flour of different kinds is used to prepare the different Indian breads thus, contributing to the taste as well as the nutritional content. South Indian breakfasts generally consist of idli or dosa with sambhar and chutney, upma, vada or even rice. In today's fast paced world where both the husband and wife have a tight schedule the menu for the day is also dictated to a great extent by convenience.

The everyday meal - lunch or dinner- consists of rice and/or rotis (the Indian bread), lentils or dal as it is known, Subzi or vegetables, a non-vegetarian dish, yogurt, pickles and pappads. Dessert is also an important part of every meal. East India is known for its delicious array of sweets like the rasogollas, sandesh and chum chum to name a few. Fish and other seafood are very popular in the East Indian states.

South Indian cuisine includes extensive use of coconut whether in cooking vegetables or non-vegetarian. Coconut oil is mainly used for cooking purposes. In the West, Gujarati cuisine is primarily vegetarian and all the dishes have a subtle sweet taste. Goan cuisine with its Portuguese influence also has influences in the coastal Maharashtrian cooking. Rajashtan cusine too has a distinct flavor and taste that adds to the variety and flavor of the Indian cusine.

Dessert Recipes in the Indian cuisine are a world in itself and vary a great deal based on the geographical location. From the gulab jamuns, shahi tukra, payasam, shrikhand to the yummy rasgullas, the Indian cuisine has a rich spread of mouth watering desserts.
About the Author
Mary-Anne is a featured member and regular contributor at iFood.tv, a global food network featuring recipes from all over the world. For more Indian Recipes, Thai Recipes, and Chinese Recipes check out ifood.tv.
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