Indian cuisine is famous and relished all over the world and enjoys a reputation at par with other cuisines of the world. The culinary of Indian cuisine is a science, which has developed over thousands of years. The classic range of regional cuisines from North to South and East to West reflects the great size of India and its unparalled cultural heritage. The Indian Cuisine in both vegetarian and Non Vegetarian Indian food, has an unmatched charm because of the extravagant spices used in Indian Cuisine, thus India is better understood as "HOME OF THE SPICES". The art of preparing authentic Indian Food does not involve an overdose of spices, but the delicacy and mixing of right spices in right quantities. India is a land of diverse religions, customs, festivals, culinary flavors and climatic conditions. Thus each part of India has added and enhanced the flavor of its dishes by blending spices, herbs and condiments to make the dish more exquisite, exotic and heavenly.
"TO EAT INDIAN FOOD IS TO REFRESH and REJUVENATE YOUR MIND, BODY and SOUL AS IT SATISFIES YOUR CRAVINGS FOR MOUTH-WATERING CUISINE, INDEED THE INDIAN CUISINE IS A UNIVERSAL GASTRONOMIC DELIGHT"
Tourists visiting India are puzzled by the vast size and population of India and of course the diversity of the culture and cuisine respective of each part of India. Tourists can enjoy and relish a hearty Indian meal, if they are guided well in hand. But the foreigners visiting India are generally served with dishes, which have been tailor-made to suit western taste buds, or they are offered dishes inappropriate to their tastes. The food is either too hot or too rich and oily for them and sometimes the flavor of a dish is camouflaged by excessive use of spices by different restaurants or chefs, which they are unable to produce authentically true to its taste.
Here I, KOMAL TANEJA would like to share my expertise, knowledge and culinary experience of 22 years about the Indian Cuisine with the Tourists visiting India so that to prepare and guide them to have a transparent view of the different regional Indian Cuisines which they can enjoy and relish. This short guide gives a complete picture of -
Ø Various Indian Cuisines from all parts of India along with their festivals
Ø Must taste these dishes while visiting India
Ø Different types of cooking methods prevalent in India
Ø Food Tips for eating out in restaurants, hotels, roadside dhabas, small eating joints or kiosks.
Ø Irresistible street food
N - E - W - S (INDIA) (IN-HOUSE FOOD GUIDE)
THE NORTHERN INDIA
Starting from the Northern peak of JAMMU and KASHMIR it stretches from HARYANA, HIMACHAL PRADESH, UTTARANCHAL, U.P. to the colorful and vibrant PUNJAB. The main festivals here are Baisakhi, Lohri, Basantpanchami, Makarsankranti, Diwali, Holi, Rakshabandhan, Karwachuath, Janamasthmi and Shivratri. The North Indian Cuisine is unique and significant because of the use of Gram Masala powder and lots of Ghee, Butter or Oil which gives a distinctive taste and aroma to the cuisine. The dishes you must taste of the various regional cuisines are -
Sarson Ka Saag and Makki ki roti with Sweet Lassi, Chole Bhature, Rajma Chawal, Mughlai Shahi Paneer, Dam aloo, Muttor Shufta, Paneer Tikka, Mixed vegetable Jalfrezi, Malai Kofta Curry, Navratan Korma, Gobi Mussalam, Gujiyas, Aloo Puri, Vegetable Biryani etc.
Kashmiri Roghan Josh, Lamb pasanda curry, Chicken do piyaza, Mutton do piyaza, Yakini Pulao, Gushtaba, Butter Chicken and Naan, Dal makhani with pudina parantha, Tandoori chicken tikkas and seek kebabas, Chicken Biryani, Palakwala gosht, Murg makhani, Amritsari Fish Fry, Mutton Korma, Rasedar Gosht with steamed rice.
KUCH MEETHA HO JAYE (SWEET TOUCH)
Gajar ka halwa, Chawal ki kheer, Rice phirni, Shahi tukra (bread pudding), Meethi seviyan (Vermicelli), Gulabjamun, Rasmalai, Muzaffar Lazeez.
This comprises of states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. The flavor and taste of the East is their Sweet delicacies. Fish, Rice and Coconut are their staple diet. People use oil in large quantity for seafood delicacies and the extensive use of cottage cheese to make Bengali Sweet preparations like Rasgulla, Chamcham, Sandesh, Payas and Chenna. The main festivals here are Durga and Kali Puja of Bengal, Bihu of Assam, Chath of Bihar, Dussehra, Diwali and Holi are also celebrated all over with joy and happiness. The traditional food specialties are -
BENGAL STYLE - spicy potatoes (aloor dum), Vegetable Curry (aloor potoler dalna), Cabbage with peas (bandha kopi tarkari), Choler Dal (Bengal gram with coconut), Mocha ghanto (Banana flower)
ORISSA STYLE - potato and parwal curry (aloor potoler rassa), green gram with vegetables (dalam), Soft rice with green gram and vegetables (khichuri).
ASSAM STYLE - black gram with ashgourd (matimah khar), creamy milk and rice with palm jaggery (jalgurer payesh), Steamed sweet curd (bhappa doi),
Vegetarian momos are a hot favorite in the hilly areas.
Hilsa fish in mustard (Illish sarso Bata), Sour Fish Curry (Tenga - Assam Style), Prawns in coconut milk (chingri macher Malai curry), Mutton Curry (manshol jhol - Bengali style), Prawn Pulao (Chingre Pulao), Muttomne with white peas (manshor - ghugni), Butter fish in yogurt (dahi pamphlet).
Desserts as told above.
This part of India is an excellent combination of Greenery, Deserts and Beaches, which makes it a hot Tourist Destination. It covers the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and part of Goa. The main festive attractions of this part of India are Teej, Janamasthmi (Birth of lord Krishna), Rakshabandhan or Rakhi of Rajasthan and Navrattri with dances like Garbha and Dandiya of Gujarat are famous all over the world. Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Puja of Mumbai is also very special along with Navratri and Diwali. Significant lip - smacking dishes of this region are -:
RAJASTHANI - batichurma, pancharatni dal, gate ki subzi, sangari ka achar,
GUJRATI - handvo, dhokla, khandvi, kadhi Chawal, undhiya, Mixed vegetable Pulao, Ragda pattise, Sevpuri, Panipuri, red gram (tuvar dal), bhakri, methi thepla, Vaingan -vatana- na - shak
MARATHI - bhelpuri, batatavada, mutton curry (muttonache saar), spiced rice with gherkins(masala bhath), Bharwan Baigan
PARSI STYLE - Fried rice, Mutton with lentils and vegetables (Dhansak), Fish in Banana Leaf (Patrani Machi), Chicken with Cashewnuts (Murghi ma kaju), Scrambled eggs(Akoori)
GOAN STYLE - Goan Prawn Curry, Chicken vindaloo, fish curry goan style (Nisteachi Coddi), chicken Curry Goan Style (Komdiche Xacuti), Goan Style Sea Food Curry.
The desserts are very innovative and delicious - Mohan Thal, Basundi Dhoodhino Halwa (Bootlegourd Halwa), Saffron sirikhand (Saffron in Thick Curd), Amrakhand (Mango puree in curd), Puran Poli (Rotis stuffed with sweet moong dal), Jalebis (moong dal halwa)
This part of India is divided into 5 main states on basis of Cultures, traditions and languages - namely - Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and major part of Goa. Other than these Lakshadweep, Pondicherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also included in this region. The important festivals include Pongal, Onam, Dussehra of Mysore. As this southern part of India is a predominantly agricultural paradise, these festivals signify the prayers offered to god at the time of cutting of crops and are joyfully celebrated. The various multi cuisines here are -
Upama, steamed rice and semolina (rawa) idlis, Dosas, Sambhar (Red gram and Vegetable Curry - Tamil Style), Vadas, Uttapam, Sukha chana (Whole Bengal Gram - Manglore style), Lemon rice (Tamil Style), Vegetables in coconut and curd (Avial - Kerala Style), Rice cooked with split green gram (Ven Pongal), Jack fruit Seed curry (Thiyyal), Bengal Gram and Vegetable Curry (Kuttir Curry), Nawabi Pulao (Hyderabadi Style).
NON - VEGETARIAN
Meen Curry (Fish Curry Kerala Style), Machli Pakoras (Kerala Style), Hyderabadi Gosht Biryani, Chicken Curry (Kozhi Kuttan Kerala style), Mansam chops (Mutton Chops Andhra Style), Mangalore style Mutton in Green Masala, Mutton Masala (Aattirachi Curry - Kerala Style), Prawn Gassi, Goan Fish Curry, Shikhampuri Kebabas - (Andhra style)
Sampling of Indian Food along with its unique breads and accompaniments is undoubtedly divine and magical. Some mouth-watering accompaniments are mentioned below which will haunt one's memory forever if relished once.
BREADS - Stuffed Kulchas, Naans, Chapattis, Paranthas, Puris, Luchis, Missi Roti, Tandoori Roti, Bhature, Theplas,
ACCOMPLIMENTS - Mango mint chutney, Coconut Chutney, Tamarind Chutney, Tomato Chutney, Fruit Chat, Kachumer Salad, Lassi (Sweet and Salted), Mint and Coriander flavored yogurt, Mixed Raita, Cucumber relished raita, Dahi Bhalle, Bundi Raita, Potato Raita.
"PRESENTATION OF FOOD DOESN'T LAST LONG BUT THE TASTE, FLAVOR and CRAVINGS LINGERS ON FOREVER"
STREET / ROAD-SIDE FOOD CRAVINGS
Irresistible Street or Roadside foods of Dhabas, Small kiosks or from street hawkers, has been popular in demand increasingly both in rural and urban cities of India. This includes - Various types of Chaats - Fruit Chaat, Aloo Chaat, Chaat Papri, Dahi Bhalle ki Chaat, Raj kachori, Gol Gappas. Other's are - Pao Bhaji, Bhel Puri, Sev Puri, Ragra Pattise, Batata Vada, Besan chillas, Moong Dal Chillas, Assorted Pakoras (Onion, Cauliflower, Paneer, Mixed Vegetable, Brinjal, Potato and Spinach, Samosas, Bhujiyas, Aloo ki Tikka etc.
INDIAN CULINARY METHODS
The most popular method includes -
¤ BAKING in a tandoor or closed chamber (clay oven) for making Tikkas or Roasting the chicken.
¤ BASTING to pour melted fact or gravy over meat / chicken or other foods during rotating or cooking gravy.
¤ DUM COOKING - This is cooking in steam. This technique is used in final stage of cooking Biryani, Rice Pulao, Meat or Vegetable Curry.
¤ GRAVY/CURRY these are prepared by using thickening agents such as Onion paste, Tomato Paste, Tomato Puree, Ginger, Garlic, Coconut, Poppy seeds, Coriander Seeds, Almonds, Cashewnuts and curd. Many types of Gravies and curries can be prepared using different ingredients and flavors of curry, which also depends upon the right art of spicing.
¤ PRESSURE COOKING - It is very popular in India as it reduces the time required for cooking. It is ideal for cooking Meat and Chicken Curries, Rice Pulaos and Lentils.
¤ FRYING - This is to cook in smoked fat it is of 3 types - Stir frying, Shallow frying and Deep Frying.
¤ GRILLLING ON SKEWERS It is an Iron bar and chicken, mutton, vegetables and fish tikkas or kebabs are fixed on it and Grilled in Open Bar-Be-Que or in house oven cum grill.
FOOD TIPS FOR EATING OUT
¤ Tourists visiting India should always be aware of the Climatic conditions and seasons while indulging in Indian Cuisine.
¤ Summer season is the best suited for cool drinks like Lassi (Butter Milk Sweet or Salted), Mango Panna, Khussorbet, Roohafza which are refreshing and keep the body cool. Desserts like Kulfi, Firni and Rice Kheer can be eaten chilled and light food like the south Indian Cuisine - Dosa, Idli, Uttapam, Sambar and Lemon Rice are recommended as their easily digestible.
¤ Always eat out in a hygienic and reputed eating joint whether big or small.
¤ During the rainy season it is best to avoid roadside or street food which is not as hygienic as in house food and always take care not to have food exposed to moisture, flies or kept uncovered. During the rainy weather one feels like having Pakoras, Samosas, Aloo Tikkis, Chole Bhature and Pao Bhaji, so these dishes can be enjoyed in any good Indian fast food restaurant.
¤ Winter season is the time to enjoy the hot and steamy Biryani; Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani with Paranthas the rich and cream based curry gravies. The weather allows one to have Tandoori Food straight from the Bar- Be-Que or Grill as these foods provide heat to the body when one is feeling Cold.
¤ Spring Season is the best season to try out new flavors as the Goan and Parsi Cuisine along with the Gujarati and Marathi flavors of regional cuisine while eating out at Hotels one should always ask for the chef's specialty or order the dish of the day at the restaurant or the Hotel.
¤ Restaurant food must be eaten at well-known places and Joints recommended in the HT eating out guide.
¤ Always be alert on the value for money deals in the food joints - may be a platter, food combos, sizzler or steaks served with deluge of accompaniments.
¤ Every Five Star Hotel has an In-house Indian Restaurant serving the Indian delicacies, so one should go for them. Other than these there are many reputed Indian Restaurants catering to Authentic Indian Cuisine.
Wishing you an enjoyable and recreational trip to India.
"TO INDULGE IN INDIAN CUISINE IS TO ENJOY A GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN AND AN UNFORGETTABLE CULINARY EXPERIENCE"
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