The Mouth-Watering Cuisine of India
Featuring Indian Food From Rajasthan & Kerala
When it comes to cuisines of the world, there’s nothing quite like the aromatic, creamy, spicy dishes of India. Indeed, the food in India is as rich and diverse as the people are which makes for a unique and delicious combination of traditional methods of cooking. A variety of cooking methods coupled with the fact that a vast array of spices is infused into each dish, makes Indian food one of the most popular and flavourful cuisines of the world.
With over 5,000 years of history, Indian cuisine has been influenced by a variety of settlers who came to India with their traditions based on their religions and regions of the world where they originated. Culinary methods were practised and, along with the introduction of new spices that the settlers brought with them, a beautiful combination and integration of ways of cooking blossomed into what most of us refer to as ‘Indian food’, but is actually a combination of many traditions from around the world. Regardless, Indian food is intoxicatingly aromatic, colourful, delicious, and tempting.
What makes Indian food taste so good? The ancient Indian healing tradition of Ayurveda (translates into ‘the science of life’) attributes the quality and flavour of Indian food with six tastes. As Ayurveda explains, the six tastes are salty, sour, sweet, astringent, bitter, and pungent. According to Ayurveda, the six tastes are an integral part of each Indian dish because it is the inclusion of all six tastes which creates a satiated feeling in the body that helps us to stop eating when we have actually eaten enough. While most of us don’t sit and ponder what exactly is in our food, I have to admit that when you taste various Indian dishes, they are flavourful and satiating in a way unlike any other cuisine. Despite the use of similar spices in many of the dishes, there is not an overlapping flavour effect in Indian food that makes things taste the same, each dish seems to offer the palate an experience of its own. Whether you are a vegetarian or not, there seems to be something for everyone when it comes to Indian food.
Rightly so, India is referred to as ‘The Land of Spices’ due to its variety and use of spice in all Indian dishes regardless of what region you are in. Here is a list of the most commonly used spices in Indian cooking:
- Black Pepper: A warming spice that contributes to a pungent taste. Black pepper is an aid in warding off sore throats and colds.
- Cumin: Promotes digestion.A heating spice that is bitter, pungent, and astringent.
- Garlic: Lowers cholesterol, has a pungent quality.
- Ginger: Improves digestion. Has both a pungent and sweet taste.
- Red Chile: Gives the heat to Indian curries. Hot and pungent taste
- Saffron: Quality of movement for the blood and an aid in digestion. Sweet, astringent, and bitter.
- Coriander: Helps with indigestion. It contributes to sweet and astringent taste qualities.
- Cardamom: Helps with kidney health. It is a sweet and pungent taste.
- Turmeric: Used in most Indian dishes, adds flavour and is a blood purifier. It has a bitter, astringent, and pungent taste. Can be used in teas and tonics for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Mustard Seed: Warming and contributes to the pungent taste. Used in many Indian dishes.
- Clove: Used in rice and meat preparations. Wards off tooth infections and tooth pain. Pungent and astringent tastes.
Popular Dishes of New Delhi
If you’re lucky enough to have your international flight arrive in Delhi, you are going to be able to try some pretty spectacular Indian food straight away. The capital city is known for a great variety of street food as well as many 5Star dining experiences that will impress. If you are in love with delicious food, you will not be disappointed in Delhi. Here are a few of Delhi’s famous dishes:
- Tandoori Chicken: Tandoor refers to a cylindrical clay or metal oven used in India to cook meats and also for baking. The heat in the tandoor is generated by charcoal or wood fire that burns within the tandoor oven so it is like radiant or convection cooking. The smoky flavour of the meat comes from the fat and juices that drip onto the charcoal which then smokes the tandoor and creates that aromatic essence to the food.Tandoor Chicken is popular throughout India and in Delhi there are many restaurants that specialize in this cooking method.
- Butter Chicken: Butter chicken originated in New Delhi in the 1950’s by a man named Kundan Lal Gurjal who owned a restaurant called Moti Mahal. One evening after dinner service he instructed the cooks to take any of the leftover marinade juices and mix it with a bit of butter and tomato and to keep with the tandoor chicken. The next day, after marinating overnight, the cooks decided that they would try the marinated chicken and, to their surprise, they uncovered one of the most delectable dishes now known around the world. Kundan’s restaurant featured this newly discovered dish, called it Butter Chicken, and his restaurant became a success as people flocked there to try this tangy, creamy, and flavourful chicken dish.
- Chole Bhature: Rich and spicy round fried breads.
- Paranthas: Plain or stuffed flat Indian breads. Eaten at breakfast but also a popular street food snack.
- Chaat: Savoury snacks that come in a variety of types, ‘hors d’oeuvres’ of sorts.
The Cuisine of Rajasthan
The province of Rajasthan is popular for its rich culture as well as the Rajasthani cuisine and food traditions. Rajasthani’s love their food and it is evident as you travel through the province as you will be delighted at the variety of gourmet cuisine for both vegetarians as well as the meat lovers too. Given the arid temperatures and lack of water in the region, the Rajasthani’s have adapted to the climate and developed inventive ways of making food with lots of milk, ghee, and the spices they are famous for. Some of Rajasthan’s famous dishes are:
- Dal-Baati-Churma: A famous Rajasthani 3 in 1 treat. Typically, you are given a platter of semi-sweet Churma, some spicy Dal and deep-fried Baati. You can dip the Baati into the Dal and add some of the Churma too. Combining savoury with sweet is an Indian tradition.
- Laal Maas: A rich and spicy meat curry often made with mutton.
- Mirchi Vada: Jodhpur is famous for this street food of Rajasthan. Batter fried green chilli peppers stuffed with spicy aloo masala and served with spicy green chutney and sweet tamarind chutney. The savoury snack has a bit of a crunch and is common throughout Rajasthan.
South Indian Cuisine
South India cuisine includes culinary preparation methods of the 5 states in the South; Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Kerala. The biggest difference between the food in the North and South is that in the North a lot of meat and dairy is used while in the South, especially the region of Kerala, more vegetables and some seafood is used while a vey small amount, if any at all, of dairy and meat is used. The main spices that come from South India are cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves. Some of the Souths favourite dishes are:
- Dosa: Fried crepe or pancake eaten at breakfast or dinner and can be savoury or sweet.
- Thali: Thali is the Indian name of the round platter used to serve food. In the South a Thali lunch is common where little dishes of rice, curries, and dal are served in small tin bowls and served all together on the thali.
- Vada and Sambar: Fried, doughnut shaped South Indian delicacy usually made with black lentil.
While there are differences from region to region in India, the one thing you can be sure of is that each and every Indian dish will incorporate the six tastes, have amazing aromas, rich sauces and marinades, and they are made with a variety of spices. Not all dishes are hot, in fact, most Indian dishes are spicy but not necessarily hot, however, you can custom heat most dishes by added a few of the warming spices if you prefer.
Made with pride and love, Indian cuisine is a standout in the world of food and is sure to warm you soul and senses each time you are lucky enough to enjoy authentic Indian cuisine.
Checkout Explore India’s, A Culinary Tour Of Delectable India. What better way to learn and explore the incredible cuisine of India than to tour and taste your way through delectable India.