India is the second largest producer of food after China, and is a multi-cuisine country. It is a land of diverse culinary arts with their exclusive features and specialties. North, west, south, east and central parts of India, all have their own exclusive culinary specialties. Indian food presents a range of flavors and specialties as vast as the country itself.
Many Indians are vegetarians, but there is a substantial percentage of people who eat meat. Out of the many cuisines present in the Indian gourmet a few are as follows:
A staple Indian diet consists of steamed rice served with “daal” (curried lentils), yoghurt, vegetables, lamb or chicken, pickles (there might be over thousands of varieties in pickles made all across India) and “rotis” (unleavened bread made from whole wheat flour and served hot and fresh). This is the simplest description for a basic Indian meal.
Mughlai cuisine is a style that married Indian gravies with the richness of the Mughlai dining experience developed in northern India. The gravies are rich, spices are tempered with cream and butter and garnished with raisins, almonds, pistachios, walnuts or cashews. They form the gravies for enriching lamb or chicken as well as for dishes of cottage cheese and vegetables. “Biryani”, rice cooked with saffron and lamb or chicken is another specialty of the Mughlai Indian cuisine.
Udipi cuisine is basically a south Indian cuisine and owes its name to the city of its origin. Southern food is usually vegetarian, light and fiery. A lot of rice is eaten with a mixture of vegetables which are cooked in coconut oil. Every meal is accompanied with “sambhar”(lentil curry) as well as a thin soup called “rasam” which gave rise to the mulligatawny soup enjoyed in the west.
There is a southern flavor to the cuisine served in Hyderabad. There is an emphasis on mustard in this Indian cuisine.
Kebab(skewered barbequed meat) is a boneless piece of meat cooked for a long time over coals. The meats are marinated with yoghurt and spices and either cut into small portions or pounded into a paste or minced. A few different kebabs are sheekh kebab, boti kebab, pathar kebab or malai kebab.
Equally well spiced are the Goan curries of western India. Goa is best known for its beaches, and therefore visitors can look forward to an abundance of seafood. The specialty here is Vindaloo (meat or seafood cooked in spices and vinegar). Sausages and pork is also popular which resuls in Sorpotel (a combination of tender flesh and spicy hot curry).
The states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra represents the vegetarian belt of the Indian cuisine collection.
Sweetmeats and Fruits
Indians have a sweettooth and the different types of sweets available throughout India. “Jalebis” (pretzel-like shapes fried in oil and dunked in sugar syrup), equivalent to western confections is “barfi” made of milk, “gulab jamuns” , “kheer”(thickened, sweetened milk in which rice has been cooked and garnished with saffron and raisins) etc. are a few to mention.
These are only a few of the various different cuisines relished in India. International dining and restaurants are also popular in India. Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Thai and Continental cuisine restaurants are also getting popular with the Indian population.