Indian Cuisine

Most Indian cuisines are related by similiar usage of spices. Often, Indian cooking is distinguished by the use of a larger variety of vegetables than many other well-known cuisines. In the north and the west, Kashmiri and Mughlai cuisines show strong central Asian influences. Through the medium of Mughlai food, this influence has propagated into many regional kitchens. To the east, the Bengali and Assamese styles shade off into the cuisines of East Asia. The desert cuisines of Rajasthan and Gujarat use an immense variety of dals and achars (preserves) to substitute for the relative lack of fresh vegetables. The use of tamarind to impart sourness distinguishes Tamil food. All along the northern plain, from Punjab through Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, a variety of flours are used to make chapatis and other closely related breads. In the rain-swept regions of the north-eastern foothills and along the coasts, a large variety of rices are used. Potatoes are not used as the staple carbohydrate in any part of India. North Indian desserts and sweets are made of milk, paneer, lentil flour and wheat flour combined with dried nuts and garnished with a thin sheet of pure silver. Nimbu Pani (lemon drink), Lassi (iced buttermilk) are popular drinks of the North. Hot and sweet cardamom milk is very common before going to bed.


Punjabi cuisine one of the most popular regional cuisine throughout India and the world. The most famous dish of Punjab is the Sarson ka saag, which originated from Punjab. This dish of green mustard is simmered and slow cooked over coals along with rajma, kali dal or lentils. This dish is served with unleavened bread of cornmeal or wheat and a dollop of butter or with steamed basmati rice. Non-vegetarian food, especially chicken, is a favorite all over Punjab and the ever-popular tandoori chicken is almost an institution. Mutton and fish are also cooked in the traditional Punjabi kitchens with a lot of enthusiasm and form an integral part of any special menu. Tall glasses of lassi, made of yogurt, tempered with either salt or sugar, are a popular cooling drink of Punjabi origin but it is quite popular all over the country. Phirni, a sweet dish made of milk, rice flour and sugar and chilled in earthenware bowls is a typical Punjabi dessert. Punjabi sweet dishes like gulab jamuns and burfi have a strong percentage of khoya made from milk.
Rajasthani food is the combination of dal, bati and churma (dal is lentils; bati is baked wheat ball; and churma is powdered sweetened cereal), but for the adventurous traveller, willing to experiment, there is a lot of variety available. Some of the famous sweets and desserts of Rajasthan are Laddoos, Malpuas, Jalebies, Rasgullas, Mishri Mawa, Mawa Kachori, Sohan Halwa and Mawa or milk cake. In the desert belt of Jaisalmer, Barmer and Bikaner, cooks use a minimum of water and prefer, instead, to use more milk, buttermilk and clarified butter. A distinct feature of the Maheshwari cooking is the use of mango powder, a suitable substitute for tomatoes, scarce in the desert, and asafoetida, to enhance the taste in the absence of garlic and onions. Rajasthani curries are a brilliant red but they are not as spicy as they look. Most Rajasthani cuisine uses pure ghee (clarified butter) as the medium of cooking. A favourite sweet dish called lapsi is prepared with broken wheat (Dalia) sautéed in ghee and sweetened.
Kashmir cuisine is quite famous for the gracious use of spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, saffron, etc. Spices used in Kashmiri cuisines give special taste and aroma to the food. However, Kashmiri rice forms an important part of the traditional food of Kashmir, striking a balance with the spicy Kashmiri dishes. Non-veg, consisting of mutton, chicken, fish, etc forms an important part of Kashmiri cuisine. The most famous form of the Kashmiri cuisine is Wazwan. Wazwan is the traditional 24-course banquet with many ways of cooking and varieties of meat - some in curry, some dry, and of various sizes. These are carefully cooked by the master chef, Vasta Waza, and his retinue of wazas. The meal is served on a large metal plate called the trami. The rice is served in a mound in the center. There is an earthen pot which is filled with freshly made yogurt and chutney. The meal began with a ritual washing of hands at a basin called the tash-t-nari, which is taken around by attendants. Seven dishes are a must for these occasions which are Rista, Rogan Josh, Tabak Maaz, Daniwal Korma, Aab Gosht, Marchwangan Korma and Gushtaba.
Broadly Uttar Pradesh is divided politically, geographically and by cuisines in to 3 distinct zones namely Western UP, Oudh and Eastern Utter Pradesh. The most famous cuisines in Oudh are Kabobs, Biryani and Nihari. Due to Muslim dominance and influence on the culture and cuisine of this region, you will find that most of the items are meat based. Among the kabobs Shami and Galawati kabobs are the specialty of Lucknow and so are Kulcha-Nihari and Biryani. It should be kept in mind that the Biryani that is cooked in Oudh is quite different from its cousins of Hyderabad and Karachi in Pakistan. The Kanpur region brings Kakori and Boti kabobs. The most famous vegetarian dishes of this region are Tahri and Nargishi kofta. While the former is cooked with rice and lentils, the later has a generous dose of cheese, Khoya and saffron. In the western Uttar Pradesh or Rampur region, the major delicacies are Rampuri Rohu and Zamindoz; both items of fish. The kabobs that are famous in Rampur region are Pasanda Kabob and Shab Deg. The most famous vegetarian dish of this region is Paneer Pasanda. In the eastern Uttar Pradesh Tahri and Reshmi kabobs are very famous. Besides, Murg Musallam is another favorite dish of this region. Among the sweets, Mathura and Agra zone has clearly an edge. The Khurchan and Peda are some of the favored sweet items in Mathura region. Petha in nearby Agra is very popular all over India. The Shahi Tukda of Oudh region is very popular too. Among the drinks Lassi and Ruh-afza are the most favored one in Uttar Pradesh. No talk on cuisines can be rounded off without mentioning Paan of Banaras. Banarsi Paan is famous all over India for its taste and ingredients, which at times touch 50 in counts.
The specialty of Bengali cooking is the use of panchphoron i.e. five basic spices which include zeera, kalaunji, saunf, fenugreek and mustard seeds. Generally, Bengali food is a mixture of sweet and spicy flavors. The staple diet of the Bengalis is rice and fish. A true Bengali considers a meal incomplete without fish. Even the Brahmins of Bengal eat fish and no celebration is complete without it. The principal medium of cooking is mustard oil. A distinct flavor is imparted to the fish dishes by frying them in mustard oil before cooking them in gravy. Fish is also steamed by the Bengalis. . Bekdi, a special fish of Bengal, specially lends itself to Western style of cooking. If Bengali’s first love is fish, then the second is sweets. The Bengalis are compulsive sweet lovers. Mention Bengal and one is immediately reminded of the delicious sweets of the state-gulab jamuns, rasogolla, sondesh, chum chum and many more. Made of milk and cottage cheese, these are light and delectable. No account of Bengali food is complete without a eulogy to its sweet dahi or mishti doi as it is more popularly called.
South Indian cuisine is rice based. Rice is combined with lentils to make wonderful dosas, idlis, vadas and uttapams. These items are glorious and delicious besides being nourishing and digestible (due to the fermenting process). They are combined with sambhar (dal), rasam (tamarind dal), dry and curried vegetable and pachadi (yogurt). However, the most popular dishes are dosas and idlis whose popularity spreads throughout the country. These dishes are served with Sambhar and coconut chutney. Dosas are fried pancakes, whereas idlis are more like teamed dumplings and are made with a mixture of ground fermented rice. South Indian chutneys are made of tamarind, coconut, peanuts, dal, fenugreek seeds, and cilantro. Meals are followed by coffee. South Indian dals and curries are soupier than North Indian dals and curries. South Indian cuisine is also hotter. Coconut milk straight from the nut is a common beverage and sight in South India. Coffee is very popular in South India and Madras coffee is popular in South Indian restaurants throughout the world. The South Indian food is a brilliant blend of flavors, colors, seasoning, nutritional balance, fragrance, taste, and visual appeal.
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