The first thing that comes to mind when we hear India is it’s diversity. India is the second largest populous country in the world. India’s diversity can be seen in its languages, traditions and most importantly, in its food. In fact, food from one region may actually be totally alien to a person living in another region of the country! There are numerous of cuisines available in India but one thing that is typical in all the Indian cuisines is use of spices to create flavour and aroma.
“Indian cuisine uses the whole palette of flavours—spicy, sour, sweet, and hot all at the same time—making it something that wants to jump off the plate,” says Floyd Cardoz, the executive chef and a partner of North End Grill in New York City and the author of One Spice, Two Spice.
History and influence
If we take a close look into the history of India one thing that is throughout the history is invasion of foreign countries which brought different cultures to India and left their mark on Indian cuisine. Some of the major influences are:
• Persian and Arab are famous for bringing “Mughalai Khaana” to India, which includes thick gravies and use of dry fruits like cashews and almonds in food.
• Portuguese influence can be chiefly seen in food of goa. Goanese eat pork and duck, meats rarely seen outside the area, and use of vinegar as a souring agent is a Portuguese legacy.
• British rule in India gave birth to a whole new cuisine which is popularly known as Anglo-Indian cuisine. They also gave “chai” or tea to Indians.
Indian food is also strongly influenced by religion. Brahmins and merchant caste were strict vegetarians, but members of other castes eat meat. And then there’s Kashmir where Brahmins eat meat – but avoid onion and garlic. Then there are many other religions like Jainism, Buddhism, Christian having dynamic food habits.
The staple food in India is wheat, rice and pulses. In modern time Indian pallet has undergone a lot of change as a result of globalization. People used to cook food from fresh ingredients and use to pass on their family recipes but people now have increasingly hectic lives so now they mostly rely on ready-to-eat foods.