An Indian kitchen is one magical place where even in a few minutes time you can create culinary wonders. Being fire-based, the Indian cuisine involve lots of churning and roasting to get that perfect blend of spices that include cumin, turmeric, coriander powder, red pepper, black pepper, turmeric, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, mustard, fenugreek and more. Asafoetida or Hing is the most used ingredient in Indian recipes. It is known to give a particular flavor that makes pulses or dal and dry vegetables truly amazing. Indian recipes are about using the right spices in right amounts.
Interestingly, there are hundreds of Indian cuisines that belong to different regions of India. Depending upon the climatic conditions, agricultural production, historic incidences and cultural factors, these cuisines present a wide variety of unique flavors.
Cuisine from North-India
The cuisines from north-India present a wide range of sumptuous food items that are spicy and made rich by inclusion of ghee. The tangy flavors are attained by blending many spices. Kashmiri food presents flavors that come after lots of roasting in oil. Rogan Josh is the most popular recipe and a delight among non-veg lovers. There are 30 other mutton recipes that are savored here. A multicourse meal made by Kashmiri Muslims on special occasions is known as Wazwan. It is known to be prepared and presented very artistically. The other popular Kashmiri dishes are Yakhni, Qeleeya, Goshtaba, Dum Olav, Gogji Raazma and Modur Pulav. Apart from this, Kashmiris are very fond of tea or Kehwa which is prepared in a very special way by brewing it in authentic flavors.
A lot of ghee and khade masale or unbroken spices like green and black cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf are used in Himachali food. The Himachali dishes include Khatta Kaddu, Bathu ki Kheer, Siddu Ghee, Mal Puda, Kachalu and Kala Chana. They eat lots of lentils, rice and vegetables. To keep themselves warm during winters, they intake lots of vegetable and meat broth and, til or sesame chutney.
The Punjabis are known for their sporty attitude and good food. They focus a lot on dairy products like ghee, lassi, butter or makkhan and use them while cooking to make the hot-favorite dishes like Butter Chicken, Butter Naan and Dal Makhni. The top ingredients in Punjabi food are ginger, garlic and onion. The popular Punjabi foods include stuffed Paranthas, Kadhi-Chawal, Chhole Bhature, Makke ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag. Apart from these, the Tandoori and grilled food is also enjoyed by people, especially on occasions. Punjabis are very fond of Chicken which they present in their own way in the form of Butter Chicken which is served with Naan. Among vegetarians, Tandoori Paneer is hot favorite.
The staple diet of people of Uttar Pradesh includes dal, roti, sabzi and rice. On special and festive occasions, Pooris and Kachoris are enjoyed along with spicy vegetable curries. The most popular and savored snacks here are chaat, pakoris and samosas that are served with tangy chutneys. The non-vegetarians enjoy Mughlai and Awadhi food that includes a range of Kababs, Biryanis and Mutton curries.
To manage in the tough cold and mountainous region, people of Garhwal and Kumaon region, take the diet that is high in proteins like soya and pulses. Apart from the traditional spices that are used commonly in India, there are many other exclusive ones like timmer, bhangira, jambu and gandharaini. Some of the recipes that are unique are namely, dubuk, chadanji, kappa, jholi, chadanji and rus. To go well with the meal, they prepare side dishes like cucumber raita, daarim ki khatai, mooli ka raita and aam ka fajitha. Their festival celebrations are marked by sweets like singal, pua, singodi, malai laddoo and bal mithai.
Cuisine from West India
The cuisines of western states of Rajasthan and Gujarat are vegetarian and resemble a lot. This owes to the similar climatic conditions experienced here – hot and dry summers and dry and chilly winters. The relatively less production of vegetables led to more of chutneys and pickles included in the meals. To make the meals fulfilling, they use lots of milk products, a variety of flours and cereals.
Rajasthani food is very spicy while the Gujarati dishes are a bit sweet as little sugar is added to almost all of them. A typical Gujarati thali comprises of 8 to 10 vegetable curries and dals, chapati, rice and namkeens to go with them. You can enjoy the popular snack known as Farsan that is usually a part of almost all the meals. A Rajasthani thali also comprises of many vegetables, daal, baati, gatta-kadhi, sengri-aloo, churma, chapati, puranpoli, papad and pickles.
In Maharashtra and Goa, coconut and peanuts are used a lot in various dishes. A Maharashtrian thali comprises of vegetables or bhaajis, dal, chapatis, puran polis, rice, Batata-vada, Srikhand and Modak as sweet-dish. Maharashtrians enjoy a variety of snacks like Chidwa, Sabudana Khichdi, Kothimbir Wadi, Bhakarwadi, Missal and Shira. The most popular snacks of Mumbai are Pav-Bhaji, Bhelpuri, Bhajiya and Vada-Pav. They are the staple diet for some. Bhel is the most liked time-pass snack.
Goa is known for the sea-food with local dishes like Vindaloo, Kismur and Kalputi. Many of its dishes are inspired with Portuguese recipes.
Cuisine from South-India
The south-Indian cuisines are represented by that of five states – Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The cuisines of these states are quite similar to each other with coconut and rice being the major ingredients, along with lentils that are made in similar ways. The spices used in their dishes are almost the same. Among these, the cuisines of Andhra are most spicy. Some of the dishes that are made in many ways and are quite common here are - Pappu, Pulusu and Chaaru. Among non-vegetarian dishes the most popular one is Hyderabadi Biryani. Others are Kodi Guru, Kodi Pulusu, cheap Pulusu and a number of seafood dishes that include fish and prawn curries. In Telangana region, the rotis made of jowar and bajra are eaten most.
The Karnataka state presents a very diverse range of cuisines. The main savories include vegetables and lentils made along with coconut, Huli-rice, Saaru made like Rasam, the vegetable dish playa, Kadambattu – dumplings made of steamed rice and many more. In south Karnataka, Ragi and rice are eaten mostly. During winters, the Indian beans known as Avare kal are eaten most in the form of upama, usali and huli. As a side dish, yogurt and buttered milk flavored with curry leaves and spices are enjoyed. The tadka is made of mustards seeds and curry leaves. Karnataka is known for delicious sweets namely, Mysore Pak, Pheni, Chiroti, Pedha and Obbattu. People also love coconut sweetmeat.
Kerala enjoys both vegetarian and non-vegetarian savories. The typical Kerala Hindus are strictly vegetarians and live on Paalpradaman, Nendarangai chips, Olan, Eviyal, Erucherri, Pulissery, Sambar, Kalan, Rasam, Pachady, Upperis and Khichadi. While non-vegetarians make fish curry, shrimp coconut curry, fish fry, fish pickle, chicken fry, podimeen fry, Meen Thoran, Karimeen, Pollichathu, chicken stew, shrimp masala, duck curry, mutton stew, Malabari fish curry, Kakka, Kalllumekka, Malabari Biriyani, jewel fish, pearl spot fish, squid, mussels, Kappa Vevichathu. The most loved non-vegetarian dish of Kerala is Malabar Biriyani which is made of a variety of rice - Khyma rice. For breakfast, people enjoy Payasam, Ullivada, Appam, Idli, Dosa and Idiyappam. Most of the dishes are served with coconut chutney and papad.
Like Keralites, the Tamilians also enjoy non-vegetarian dishes except the Brahmin communities. On special occasions, the meat-eaters avoid meat. The gravy dishes that are presented with rice are Kuzhambu, Paripu, Sambhar, Kadaiyals and Rasam. The side-dishes include Poriyal, Kootu, Kari and papad. There is a variety of Kerala snacks that include Bonda, Idli, Upma, Dosa, Pongal, Poori, Appam, Vadai, Thayir Pachadi and Bajji along with chutneys and soups. Chettinad cuisine that comprises majorly of non-vegetarian dishes is enjoyed by people of Shivaganga region in Tamil Nadu. It includes sea-food prawn, crab, lobster, mutton and chicken. These people don’t eat beef and pork. The vegetarian Chettinad dishes include Paniyaram, Idiyappam, Adikooh, Seeyam and Athirasam.
Cuisine from East and North-East India
The north-east Indian cuisines include Assamese, Manipuri, Tripuri and Naga cuisines that present a wide variety of authentic flavors. Assamese use less spices and do not fire-cook much. The flavors are extracted from exclusive vegetables and fruits that are grown here. Most of the dishes are made of rice and fish. The popular snacks made of rice are Xandoh, Chira, Poita and Akhoi. Various fish that are eaten in Assam are Rohu, Ilish, Maagur, Borali, Bhokua, etc. The important dishes of Assam are Tenga (sour fish), Khar (made of papaya), Pitika (made of mashed potatoes). These dishes are served with chutneys and pickles. Fritters are enjoyed here with Saah or Tea.
The most liked savory made of rice is Pitha that is made during festivals like Bihu. A variety of Pithas include Ghila Pitha, Til Pitha, Lakhimi Pitha, Tekeli Pitha, Muthiya Pitha, Deksi Pitha, Tora Pitha. Post-meal, Assamese have Paan which they name as Tamol.
Manipuris eat dishes made of rice, leafy vegetable and fish. While Tripuri cuisine includes majorly of non-vegetarian dishes that are made of meat and vegetables cooked in local herbs. They also use fermented fish in their recipes. In Nagaland, fish and meat are prepared by drying and fermenting. They also eat pork and beef in smoked form. The food is usually spicy that is made of a variety of chillies that are grown here.
Bengali cuisine presents the most authentic of flavors from its range of unique preparations. With fish and rice being the most important ingredients of their meals, they usually steam the food along with combinations of various spices that is not found elsewhere. They use spices like kalonji, radhuni, paanch phoron – a mixture of many spices. Kasundi sauce made of mustard serves as a popular dip for the snacks. Some of the well-known Bengali recipes are Shukto, Maccher Jhol, Chingri Macher Malai curry, Kosha Mangsho, Cholar Daal and Hilsa Paturi. The popular Bengali bread is Luchi that is a form of Poori which is slightly sweetened. Bengalis take deep pride in preparing sweetmeats that are popular all over the world. Some of them are Chomchom, Sandesh, Pitha, Roshogulla, Rasmalai and many more varieties of them.
Belonging to different regions and religions, these recipes collectively are known as ‘Indian cuisine’ which is today most liked worldwide.