Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine consists of the foods and dishes of India (and to some extent neighboring countries), is characterized by the extensive use of various Indian spices,[1] herbs,[1] vegetables[1] and fruit, and is also known 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. 2] 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. [3][4] The spice trade between India and Europe is often cited as the main catalyst for Europe’s Age of Discovery. [5] The colonial period introduced European cooking styles to India, adding to the flexibility and diversity of Indian cuisine. [6][7] Indian cuisine has influenced cuisines across the world, especially those from Southeast Asia and the Caribbean.

Indian cuisine has been influenced by a 5000 year history of various groups and cultures interacting with the subcontinent, leading to the diversity of flavors and regional cuisines found in modern-day India. 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, grain, dairy products, honey, and poultry and other sorts of meats.

Over time, some segments of the population embraced vegetarianism. This was facilitated by the advent of Buddhism and an equitable climate permitting a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains to be grown throughout the year. A food classification system that categorized any item as saatvic, raajsic or taamsic developed in Ayurveda. A reference to the kind of food one is to eat is also discussed in the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 17, Verses 8,9 & 10). [10] In this period eating beef became taboo, a practice still common today.

This was the period in which several North Indian dynasties were predominant, including the Gupta dynasty. Travelers who visited India brought with them new cooking methods and products like tea and spices. Later, India saw the period of Central Asian and Afghan conquerors, which saw the emergence of the Mughlai cuisine that many people now associate with India. This included the addition of several seasonings like saffron, the addition of nuts, and the practice of cooking in a sealed pot called a “dum”. The 18th century saw the establishment of British rule in India.

The British, who admired the elaborate meals, adapted dishes to their taste and developed curry as a simple spice. This period resulted in the emergence of Anglo-Indian cuisine and the emergence of “Raj” traditions like “high-tea”, an elaborate late afternoon meal served with tea. he staples of Indian cuisine are Bajri, rice, atta (whole wheat flour), and a variety of pulses, of which the most central to this cuisine are masoor (most often red lentils), channa (bengal gram), toor (pigeon pea or yellow gram), urad (black gram), and moong (green gram).

Pulses may be used whole, dehusked – for example, dhuli moong or dhuli urad – or split. Split pulses, or dal, are used extensively. Some pulses, like channa and mung, are also processed into flour (besan). Most Indian curries are cooked in vegetable oil. In northern and western India, peanut oil is popular, while in eastern India, mustard oil is more commonly used. Coconut oil is used widely along the western coast, especially in Kerala; gingelly (sesame) oil is common in the south as well. In recent decades, sunflower and soybean oil have become popular across India.

Hydrogenated vegetable oil, known as Vanaspati ghee, is another popular cooking medium. Butter-based ghee, or desi ghee, is less used than before. The most important or frequently used spices in Indian cuisine are chilli pepper, black mustard seed (sarso), cumin (jeera), turmeric (haldi), fenugreek (methi), asafoetida (hing), ginger (adrak), coriander (dhania), and garlic (lehsun). Popular spice mixes are garam masala, a powder that typically includes five or more dried spices, especially cardamom, cinnamon, and clove.

Each region, and sometimes each individual chef, has a distinctive garam masala blend. Goda masala is a comparable, though sweet, spice mix that is popular in Maharashtra. Some leaves commonly used for flavoring include tejpat (Bay leaf), coriander leaf, fenugreek leaf, and mint leaf. The use of curry leaves and roots is typical of Gujarati and all South Indian cuisine. Sweet dishes are seasoned with cardamom, saffron, nutmeg, and rose petal essences.

October 15, 2017