India, as history goes, had been conquered by several invaders who left their stamp behind on the variety of cuisines, which the country labels today as its own! Be it the Aryans, the Persians, the Arabs and also the British and the Portuguese – all left India with memoirs of their legendary flavours.
The Indian food is one of the leading cuisines in the world with its diverse and delicious recipes offered by each state, city and even each home curating and inventing a number of techniques that one can only imagine!
In India, cooking is not just considered as an art, but also a very serious business. The matriarchs usually begin to teach their daughters fairly young in life, passing down family recipes by show-and-tell. In most Indian homes, meals almost always include several dishes, a staple or two like dals, rice, rotis and a dessert.
1. Regional Variations
The spices of India vary from region to region, reflecting the ethnically diverse subcontinent. Largely, Indian cuisine is split into four primary categories – Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western seasonings. However, despite such enormous disparities, you will observe unifying threads emerging out of every cooking. Ayurveda or the Vedic studies has predominantly laid the foundation to the basic style of cooking in India as early as the Indus Valley civilization.
2. The Invaders and their Influences
The food considered as authentically Indian has inspirations from far and wide. The Naan bread originated from Persia in about 1300AD via the Mughals. The Portuguese introduced the chilli to India in the 16th century, which is one of the most integral ingredients of the Indian curry. Today, India is the world’s biggest producer, consumer as well as the exporter of chilli. The English introduced India to tea prepared with an assortment of spices such as ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and even licorice. The British even influenced the style of eating by replacing the kitchen floor as the dining table and plates as against the banana leafs.
3. A lot of Grains and Wheat you eat!
There are a variety of pulses in Indian food since bajra, nachni, jowar along with different rice grains are grown in abundance in India. Combinations like dal, rice and rajma (kidney beans) rice have been popular in Indian since ages. These combinations are perfect protein meals with all the essential amino acids. Unprocessed, hand-ground wheat does not give bloating or digestive issues. An Indian household or any best Indian restaurant is incomplete without the consumption of Indian bread in the form of rotis, chapatis, naans, parathas and others as a daily routine.
4. The Indian Salt & Oils
Black, pink or rock salt were native to India. However, we slowly evolved to the more refined version of salt, which is probably the reason why Indian food is considered to be unhealthier in recent times. Cooking oils come with a number of variations in India as well. From mustard oil and peanut oil to coconut oil and groundnut oil, one can find different blends of oil being used for different preparation of cuisines.
5. Eating with your hands is not bad manners but tradition in India
Eating is a sensory experience as per Ayurveda. It not only evokes emotion but also passion. Through the thumb comes space and with the forefinger comes air. The middle finger depicts fire whereas the ring finger is water and the little finger represents earth. Eating with your fingers stimulates these five elements and helps in bringing forth digestive juices in the stomach.
The Indian people would certainly pick their palate choices from the best rated Indian restaurant; however, they would always give preference to a traditional Indian meal with their family.