The unforgettable aroma of India is not just the heavy scent of jasmine and roses, it is also the fragrance of spices so important to Indian cooking especially to preparing curry. Broadly speaking, meat dishes are more common in the North. Mughlai cuisine is rich creamily, deliciously spiced and liberally sprinkled with nuts and saffron.
The essence of good Indian cooking revolves around the appropriate use of mixed aromatic spices. Base ingredients of such mixed spices are elements such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, red pepper, nutmeg, mustered, saffron, cinnamon, card0amon, ginger powder etc. the skill lies in the subtle blending of these spices to enhance rather than overwhelm the basic flavor of a particular dish. These spices act as appetizers and digestives.
The Indian cuisine boasts of an immense variety not restricted to only curry. An authentic Indian curry is an intricate combination of a stir-fried Masala - a mixture of onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes; various spices and seasonings with which meat; poultry, vegetables or fish is prepared to produce a stew-type dish. Note: the word Masala also means spice.
Food in India is wide ranging in variety, taste and flavor. Being so diverse geographically, each region has its own cuisine and style of preparation. Indian cuisine, renowned for its exotic gravies seems complicated for any newcomer. The Mughlai cuisine of North differs sharply from the preparations of the south. The Wazwan style of Kashmir is luxurious but the same can be said about Bengal's Macher Jhol, Rajasthan's Dal Bati, Uttar Pradesh's Kebabs and Punjab's Sarson Ka Saag and Makki di Roti. In India, recipes are handed down from generation to generation.
The unique and strong flavors in Indian cuisine are derived from spices, seasonings and nutritious ingredients such as leafy vegetables, grains, fruits, and legumes. Most of the spices used in Indian cooking were originally chosen thousands of years ago for their medicinal qualities and not for flavor. Many of them such as turmeric, cloves and cardamoms are very antiseptic, others like ginger, are carminative and good for the digestion. All curries are made using a wide variety of spices.
In Indian cuisine, food is categorized into six tastes - sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent. A well-balanced Indian meal contains all six tastes, not always can this be accomplished. This principle explains the use of numerous spice combinations and depth of flavor in Indian recipes. Side dishes and condiments like chutneys, curries, daals and Indian pickles contribute to and add to the overall flavor and texture of a meal and provide balance needed.
Although a number of religions exist in India, the two that have influenced Indian cooking and food habits the most are the Hindu & Muslim Traditions. Each new wave of settlers brought with them their own culinary practices. How ever, over time they adopted a lot of specialties and cooking methods from the Indian Cuisine and blended the two perfections. The Portuguese, the Parsians and the British made important contributions to the Indian culinary scene. It was the British made important contributions to the Indian.
No meal is complete without a Paan (betel leaf). The green leaf is rolled with an assortment of digestive spices like aniseed, cloves, arecanut, and cardamom. To make it more palatable sometimes it is stuffed with sweetened rose petals locally known as Gulkand. Paan is considered to be an ideal round off for any Indian meal.
The food in all over South India is dominated by rice and curries. Tamarind, coconut and spices are important ingredients. As the sea and rivers are an integral part, sea food is the most common preparation. Specialties to look out for are Dosa, Sambar, fish curry etc. On the west coast there is a wide choice of fish and shellfish; Mumbai duck and pomfret are just two. Fish is also a feature of Bengali cooking in East. The variety of Indian cooking is immense, it is colorful and aromatic Indian cuisine is the most popular cuisine in the world.