India is a country embracing diverse cultures, languages, climates and religions. By virtue of such diversities India is blessed with diverse food habits. The cuisines vary from region to region, from culture to culture and religion to religion. This diverse food is reflected mostly by locally available spices, herbs, vegetable and fruits.
India is a country with diverse climatic condition as we move from north to south. Climate is major reason for the different agricultural tradition in different part of India which has resulted in the diversity of food habit.
Diversity of the Indian cuisine is because of the four different main regional styles, the North Indian cuisine (the regions Benaras, Kashmir, Mughlai, Punjab and Rajasthan), the South Indian cuisine (regions Andhra, Kannada, Kerala and Tamil), East Indian cuisine (regions Assamese and Bengali) and Western Indian cuisine (regions Gujarat, Maharashtrian and Malwani).
The northern part of India is mostly rural, although it contains large cities such as Delhi, thus its cuisine is more agricultural than anything, wheat being a primary constituent of this region’s dishes. North India was influenced by the Moghuls dynasty that ruled India for three centuries until the British replaced them in the 1800s. Saffron and rich gravies made of pureed nuts and cream was all derived from the Moghuls. Naan bread, which is made in a tandoor, is not indigenously Indian. It is the everyday bread of the Afghani people.
Southern regions however tend to be more exotic, spicier in their dishes and rice are a constant ingredient in their food with an accent of a thin soup called Rasam. To give the taste of their main dishes, North Indians use onions and coriander whilst southerners use a more exotic coconut base for their dishes.
The Western states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa are famous for their sea food habits also.
Indian cuisine reflects a 5000-year history of various groups and cultures interacting with the subcontinent, leading to diversity of flavours and regional cuisines found in modern-day India. Later British and Portuguese influence added to the already diverse Indian Cuisine. The British, for example, introduced tea or chai to India and it is the favourite drink of most Indians today and the Portuguese introduced potato which is the staple food crop of north India now.
Besides climatic and regional influence on food habit, religion and culture had a great influence over the food habit in India. Hindu and Muslim are the two dominate religions that have influenced Indian cooking and food habits the most. Muslim tradition is the most dominate in the cooking of meats. Mughlai food, kabaas, rich Kormas (curry), and nargisi kaftas (meatballs), the biryani (a layered rice and meat dish), rogan josh, and favourite dishes prepared in a clay over or tandoor are wonderful contributions made by Muslim settlers in India. Hindus are divided into meat and non-meat eaters.
The History of Indian Food
The history of Indian food and especially of Indian appetizers is closely related to the country’s culture and traditions. Besides being extremely tasty and actually stimulating your appetite rather than diminishing it like some other cuisines’ appetizers, these fast snacks are also quite low in fat, since they are based on a number of spices and herbs, such as ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cloves, asafoetida, aniseed or coriander. Some best examples of such appetizers are aloo tikki, bhel puri, sev puri, dahi bara etc. These appetizers are served with exotic spicy chutneys includes garlic cloves, mint leaves, salt and green chillies, while the sweet chutney’s ingredients are cumin seeds, jaggery, sugar, tamarind pulp and boiled dates pulp.
Indian food is incomplete without sweets. Indian is famous for its sweets also. Milk cakes, Bengali sweets, kala kand etc. are some of the sweets made from milk while there are a lots of sweets like nariyal laddu made from coconut. Sweets also have a climatic as well as religious influence. If we talk about Indian festivals they are incomplete without the sweetness and taste of sweets.
With the influence of westernization Indian food have undergone changes. With the growth of international restaurant chains in India fusion foods have become more popular. Fusion foods are western food with the touch of Indian spices and vegetables. It would not be wrong to call them Indian style western food. Best knows example is Pizza which are the main part of Italian cuisines. Now a day’s Indian styles pizzas are launched by some well-known restaurant chains.
The Indian cuisine is closely related to the Indian history, each historical region developing a unique set of dishes, using diverse ingredients. Besides being closely related to history, Indian cuisine is also strongly influenced by the Indian religion, Indian culture and traditions and the Indian people themselves.
No other country has a wider selection of exotic dishes and no other country can offer such a large variety of impulses for your taste buds.