Introduction to Recipes of India

by Annamma Philipose

Introduction to Recipes of India

I n a highly diversified and vast country like India, it is no wonder to find varied, diversified, and distinct recipes. Indian cuisine is unique, full of tradition, flavor and spices. It is renowned for exotic recipes which are handed down from mother to daughter, from generation to generation. Evolved over thousands of years, Indian food has strong flavors which are derived from spices, seasonings and nutritious ingredients such as leafy vegetables, grains, fruits, and legumes. It is enrich in six tastes such as sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent.

Indian cuisine is distinguished by the influence of the longstanding and widespread practice of vegetarianism within sections of the Hindu community in Indian society. Being an integral part of culture, Indian food differs based on community, region, and state with each religion, region, and caste having left its own influence on Indian food. Many recipes first emerged when India was predominantly inhabited by Vedic Hindus and later influenced by the Christians, the British, the Buddhists, the Jains, the Portuguese, the Muslims, the Arabians, the Mughals, and the Persians, and others. During the rule of Ashoka, vegetarianism became prominent.

Indians take their food very seriously and cooking is considered as an art. In their life, mealtimes are important occasions where the family can get together. Indian meals consist of several dishes ranging from staples like rice and breads to meat and vegetables and completed by a dessert. Indians follow several customs in the manner of food consumption. Most traditional way of having food is while sitting either on the floor or on very low stools or cushions. Food is most often eaten using fingers of right hand instead of the use of cutlery. In many Indian homes, food is prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients.

Indian curry is the most popular dish throughout the world. Every spice used in Indian food preparations has either a preservative or an antiseptic quality and so Indian food is considered very healthy. The staples include rice, wheat flour, and at least five dozen varieties of pulses. Most Indian curries are fried in vegetable oil with North India using ground nut oil, Eastern India using mustard oil, and South India using coconut oil. Today, sunflower oil, soybean oil, and vanaspati ghee are popular in Indian cooking. The most important spice is garam masala which is a mixture of five powdered spices. Indian sweet dishes contain cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron, and rose-petal essences.

The most important cooking styles are North Indian, South Indian, West Indian and East Indian styles. In North Indian cooking style, chilies, saffron, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese and ghee are hot favorites while in the South, folks love pepper, tamarind and coconut and will often even cook in coconut oil. In Eastern India, mustard and fish are favorites and the extremely cosmopolitan West Indians have adopted western ingredients forming a kind of fusion. Indians love their food and for them, cooking for and sharing a meal with a guest is the ultimate sign of hospitality.


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