A Culinary Experience of Special Flavors and Authentic Dishes in India
Each of the 29 Indian states has a unique cooking tradition based on local ingredients. As a rule, Indian food is vegetarian and made by special ancient techniques, though carnivores and omnivores will certainly be happy as well! While not exact, the variations of the food can be broken down by region. Join us on a culinary adventure throughout India!
The cuisine in the northern part of India is heavily influenced by central Asian countries, therefore you will find many rice dishes. Perhaps the most prevalent culinary style found outside of India, Northern Indian cuisine also reflects a strong Mughal influence. It is characterized by a high use of dairy: milk, paneer (an Indian mild cheese), ghee (clarified butter), and yogurt. Samosas, fried pastries stuffed with potatoes and occasionally meat, are a distinctive Northern snack. Clay ovens known as tandoors are popular in the North, giving dishes like Tandoori Chicken and Naan bread their distinctive charcoal flavor.
In the West, we see a lot of fish and coconut milk. In addition, due to Chinese influence, much of the cuisine has a sweetness to it. Since the dry climate of this region produces smaller vegetables, this region is well known for its chutneys, which are popular Indian condiments that use cooked, fresh, or pickled vegetables and fruits with sweet, sour, or spicy flavors. Goa acted as a major trade port and colony for Portugal, resulting in a distinctive and unique blend of Indian and Portuguese culinary elements, as well as significant use of vinegar. This region is famous for Dal casserole: lentil casseroles combined with pickled and preserved vegetables, as well as Vindaloo is a traditional Goan dish that is an Indian restaurant mainstay, its name deriving from Vinho de Alho, a Portuguese marinade consisting primarily of garlic, wine, vinegar, and chilies.
East India’s kitchen is a combination of rice and fish; one of the most recommended dishes is the Tulsa (a fish cooked in a pumpkin leaf). You will encounter special ingredients used in dishes, such as the bamboo whip plant and milk used to make cheese balls, cooked in rose water. And this region is also known for its desserts.
South Indian cuisine is a bit more off the beaten path and not readily seen outside of India (which is too bad, because its fantastic!). South Indians can’t do without rice. It’s the staple in their diet. In Kerala, most dishes are coconut-based and seafood is a specialty. In Tamil Nadu, watch out for Chettinad cuisine, perhaps the most fiery of all Indian food. Cuisine from Andhra Pradesh is also hot and spicy. Hyderabad is famous for its biryani. And, the Udupi region of Karnataka is renowned for its simple but vast vegetarian fare. You might need a side dish of water (or actually yogurt is recommended), because in southern India, the food is very(!) spicy.
The most important and frequently used spices and flavorings in all of Indian cuisine are whole or powdered chilli pepper, black mustard seed, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, ginger, coriander, and garlic. Its just about the proportions that are used differently throughout – and each combination is known as “masala”.
Just what the doctor ordered! Take a bite, why don’t you? 🙂