“Indian food, with its mouth-burning spices, cardamom-scented curries, tandoori fried fish, vinegar-infused sorpotel, mind-blowing Hyderabadi biryanis’, crisp and divine jalebis’, Punjabi channa masala, warm and cushy gulab jamuns’, is unlike any other cuisine in the world.”
‘Curry’, ‘tikka’ and ‘tandoori’ are words that are often associated with Indian food and while they do reflect a bit of what Indian food is about. Indian food has evolved through many generations, invasions, dynasties and experiments and has almost never been categorized under one umbrella.
With all its exotic ingredients, unfamiliar dishes, and tongue-tingling flavors, Indian cuisine can be both exciting and intimidating. It’s such a complete world of taste. You combine all the techniques from other cuisines and add magical spices to get a food experience.
Don’t be afraid to start playing around with cooking Indian food at home. First, it’s important to understand the various dishes and flavors that make up Indian cuisine. There is as much varied cuisine in India as you would find in Europe. It’s all totally different, and the only thing that connects it is a judicious knowledge of the use of spices. There are basic 20 to 30 spices that are used in many dishes—cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger, to name a few—and there are an infinite number of ways of using them. Every spice has a reason for being there. They have health benefits, and they make the food more exciting and flavorful.
Indian cuisine has an added bonus for vegetarians: For them, it’s one of the friendliest cuisines around. Judicious use of spices and sauces breathes new life into the likes of potatoes, cauliflower, peas, and eggplant. And a meal of hearty-but-healthy palak paneer (a spinach-and-cheese dish) with a side of naan (a pita-type leavened flat bread) will convert even the biggest meat lovers. With its array of spices and condiments and experimental attitude, Indian cuisine allows home cooks to get creative and adventurous. Play around with basic dishes and flavors and you’ll find it’s an easy way to shake up your usual dinner repertoire. Most of the spices used in Indian food have been used for their medicinal properties in addition to the flavor and taste they impart. Ginger is believed to have originated in India and was introduced to China over 3000 years ago. In India, a knob of fresh ginger added to tea is believed to relieve sore throats and head colds, not to mention it’s aphrodisiacal properties! Turmeric is splendid against skin diseases and neem leaves are used to guard against small pox.
It is these complexities of regional food in India that make it a so very fascinating try!