Food in India
Most people have had an Indian take-away at some point; however what India has exported is just one part of its extraordinary range of culinary diversity and the dishes are normally adapted to suit the English palette. Indian cuisine is known as one of the best cuisines in the world and is definitely worth trying. If you are feeling adventurous it is advised to accept any invitations to dinner at Indian homes as a way of experiencing local food.
You are probably aware that Indian food has a reputation for being spicy. This is due to their liberal use of a variety of spices and extremely fresh green chillies and red chilli power that will bring tears to the eyes of most travellers, resulting in red faces and swollen lips. BE WARNED glugging down water will not help – milk is your best bet. Spice can also be found in unexpected places like sweet cornflakes or even candies so beware.
After a few weeks, you will get accustomed to spicy food. If you don’t want your food to spicy just say, though most waiters do ask for your preference when you’re ordering.
Please note that not only does every region of India have a distinctive cuisine, but you will also find that within regions and ethnic communities you discover different styles of cooking and signature recipes which you will probably not find in restaurants.
You will get to taste lots of Indian breads here including chapatti , paratha, naan, puri, and many more, as lots of wheat is grown in this part of the country. A typical meal consists of one or more gravy dishes along with rotis which is to be eaten by breaking off a piece of roti and dipping it in the gravy. Served on the side, you will usually get spiced yogurt and fresh chutney, try mixing it with curry, not eating it plain.
Tandoori chicken is probably the best-known North Indian dish. North India also has of a variety of snacks that most have heard of like samosa and kachori .There is also a vast amount of sweet desserts such as jalebi, basically a deep-fried pretzel with sugar syrup and rasmalai.
Authentic Mughal-style cooking can still be found in some parts of the north, mostly in the cities of Delhi and Agra. It is a distinguishable blend of Persian, Turkic and subcontinent cooking, making heavy use of meat and spices.
South Indian cuisine is predominantly vegetarian, though there are exceptions such as seafood which is very popular in Kerala and the Mangalorean coast of Karnataka
In this area the food is mostly rice-based and most places use banana leaves as plates, which always adds to the experience. A typical meal includes sambhar which is a thick vegetable and lentil chowder, with rice. However a favourite tends to be the paneer dishes.
The South also has great breakfast dishes like masala dosa – a thin, crispy pancake often stuffed with spiced potatoes, vada – a savoury Indian donut and uttapam – a fried pancake made from a rice and lentil batter with onions and other vegetables mixed in. Although this is normally enjoyed as a breakfast, it can be eaten anytime of the day.
Easternfood uses a lot of rice, and fish due to the vast river channels and ocean coastline in the region. It is known for its complexity of flavour and bittersweet balance; dishes include maccher jhal, a fish stew which literally means ‘fish in sauce’, and shorshe ilish, cooked in gravy made from mustard seed paste.
But the most exciting part about the food in Eastern India is its famous desserts and sweets. Rasgulla is a rounded snack made from cow’s milk and soaked in clear sugar syrup. It’s fantastic if consumed fresh or within a day after it is made.
It is noticeable that a lot of the food is adapted from other countries; the most obvious being Chindian. Most Chinese would barely recognize the stuff, but dishes like veg manchurian and chilli chicken are very much a part of the Indian cuisine and worth a try. The British left fish and chips, while the Italians left pizza, which has entered India in a big way. However chains like Pizza hut and Domino’s have been forced to Indianise the pizza and introduce adaptations like paneer-tikka pizza.
Gujarati cuisine is somewhat similar to Rajastani cooking with the heavy use of dairy products, but differs in that it is mainly vegetarian, and often sweetened with sugar. Gujaratis make some of the best snack items such as the Dhokla and the Muthia. Mumbai is famous for its chaat. A notable feature of western cooking is that pork and vinegar is used, which you will be pushed to find in the rest of India.
Most westerners have heard of Vindaloo, which originated in Goa and in spite of its popularity in Indian restaurants abroad, it is not common in India itself.