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Introduction to Indian Food and Cuisine

India epitomizes diversity—of culture, of language, of ethnicities and of food. Indian food is an amalgamation of multiple flavors, colors and spices. Indian food does not fit into the stereotyped version of being all about oil and chilies and curries as it is more of an art which cannot be typified into a singular category. Experimenting with Indian Cuisine is the most fun thing to do. There is no standard way to cook an Indian dish as the same dish is cooked differently in different regions of India and every version has its own unique flavors that titillate the tongue. Indian cuisine also contains the touch of the flavors and cooking techniques of different tribes, clans, sultanates and empires that invaded India. This furthered the diversity in food and made Indian cuisines multi-ethnic, multi-cultured and multi-flavored. Moreover, the spices used in Indian cooking have medicinal and healing properties. A proper Indian meal contains carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber—everything that contributes in making a balanced diet.

It is not difficult to incorporate Indian flavors in one’s kitchen. One needs to get familiar with the basic Indian spices and condiments—cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, asafoetida, to name a few– that are used in Indian cooking and start with simple ingredients like potato, okra, fish, chicken, etc. The range and variety of Indian spices can be overwhelming and intimidating so it is easier to start with the spices that are necessary for specific dishes. Furthermore, not all Indian foods contain ten different spices. One key spice is enough to bring out the enriching flavor of the dish. Once the tongue acquires a taste for the stimulating flavors, playing around with Indian food becomes a habit.

Indian cuisine does not only please the vegetarian taste-buds but also satisfies the non-vegetarian palate. The worldwide popularity of Butter Chicken, Fish Tandoori, Fish Curry, Paneer Tikka, Dal Makhani explains the love for Indian flavors. Contrary to popular belief, Indian food is not all about curries. The literal definition of the term curry is a dish seasoned with a mixture of spices. But, curries can be of different varieties ranging from being saucy to being dry, from being sweet to being hot. Indian cooking uses an array of fresh vegetables and fruits which renders an authentic flavor to each dish. Indian cooking is always in a state of flux because of its populating menu. It is the combination of indigenous berries, flowers, leaves, and assorted fungi along with innovative techniques of cooking that makes Indian food delicious and mouth-watering. The quantity of oil, spices and other condiments to be used in Indian dishes falls in the arena of the concerned chef. Indian food is what one chooses to make of it.

Indian food has an added bonus for vegetarians as the blend of spices, condiments and sauces breathes new life into otherwise unappealing vegetables like peas, spinach, okra, gourd, and eggplant. The number of ways in which mushrooms and cheese can be used in Indian food is unimaginable. The resultant dishes are flavourful enough to convert the biggest meat-lovers. But, even the meat-lovers have a wide range of options on their menu.

It will not be wrong to say that dealing with Indian ingredients is a work of art. The colors, the flavors, the aroma, and the garnishing are all parts of the process of making a savory cuisine. It is very easy to be creative and adventurous with Indian flavors once one develops a taste for them. In the words of Bethenny Frankel, “Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments”. One should start by visiting the Best Indian Buffet Restaurant near them.