Aspects of Indian Cuisine
Indian cuisine is as diverse as its culture, languages, religions and its climate. Every region of India brings its own unique dishes with subtle variations to the most popular dishes. Aromatic spices are the essence of Indian cuisine. The cooking skill lies in the subtle blending of a variety of spices to enhance the basic flavour of a particular dish.
Cultural difference in Indian Cuisine
Religion had a great impact on the food habits of Indians. Each region has its own religion with the common ground being the use of fresh herbs and mixture of spices, as many as 25 freshly ground spices are mixed to form the famous masala combinations of the different regions.
North Indian Cuisine
The Mughal invasion of India during the 16th century had a big impact on North Indian Cuisine. The Mughlai cooking of the North, hints at the richness of the cuisine and sees whole spices, nuts and fruits as essential ingredients.
North Indian Punjabi cuisine is world-famous for its Tandoori dishes and curries such as Lamb Roganjosh, Butter Chicken and Dahl Makhni.
A typical North Indian meal would consist of unleavened bread, dahl (lentil curry), vegetables combined with paneer (home-made cheese), lamb or chicken curry prepared in ghee, freshly cut onions and chillies enjoyed with a cool glass of lassi* (see below). A North Indian meal is not complete without famous desserts such as Kheer and Gulab Jamun. A combination of roasted and sugar coated fennel seeds are eaten as a mouth freshener after the meal.
South Indian Cuisine
Vegetarians will feel particularly at home in the South of India as it is predominantly vegetarian. The cuisine offers spicy vegetables, curried lentils accompanied with rice, papadums and pungent pickles. South Indian meals usually end with fresh yoghurt.
The food is a brilliant blend of flavours, colours and seasonings with a strong visual appeal. The chutneys are made from tamarind, coconut, peanuts, dahl, fenugreek seeds and cilantro.
South Indian meals are generally much lighter but spicier than North Indian meals. South Indian dosa and idli are becoming ever popular throughout the world.