Indian cuisine is an amalgamation of various regional styles. There is no one word that defines Indian food. Rather, its diversity is the mainstay. If you want a true understanding of Indian cuisine, its regional food is something you just can’t ignore. Spices are used in abundance throughout India. But it is the variation of spices as well as cooking methods that differentiate one region from another.
North India cuisine: Kashmiri food has a huge influence of Central Asia. Rice, which is abundantly grown in the state is eaten as a staple and used in a variety of dishes. Green leafy vegetables or the ‘Saag’ is an important ingredient in meals. In other north Indian states like Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, people eat a lot of ‘Rotis’ or ‘Chapatis’ as wheat is widely grown. ‘Naan’, ‘Rumali’ and the ‘Taandoori’ are types of Rotis that are eaten commonly in the North. The influence of Mughlai cuisine is also largely felt in this part of the country.
South Indian cuisine: The Southern part of the country uses spices, fish and coconut liberally. Also, because of the nearness of the coast, a variety of seafood is also consumed by them. In the state of Tamil Nadu, tamarind is used to impart sourness in dishes and it is what distinguishes it from other cuisines. In Andhra Pradesh, red and green chillies are used a lot and it certainly makes food very hot. Appams, lamb stew, Fried prawns, dosas, idlis and rice puttu are famous dishes of this region of the country. In fact, the Dosa is world famous.
East Indian cuisine: West Bengal and Assam are states that define Eastern Indian cuisine. Bengalis are famous for their love for ‘Maach-Bhaat’ or fish curry and rice. The Assamese are known for their distinctive cooking techniques and the abundance of bamboo shoots in dishes. The eastern Indian people not only love their fish, but meats as well, and they have in possession a wide number of recipes of beautiful and flavorsome dishes. The Bengalis also have a number of sweets to their credit such as ‘Roshogolla’, ‘Cham-Cham’, ‘Sandesh’ and ‘Kheer’.
West Indian cuisine: Western India has perfected the desert cuisine. Because of the mostly arid region of this part of the country, there is a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. As such, the people have learned to substitute such food items with ‘Dal(lentil soup) and ‘Achaar’ (pickles). They have lots of different varieties of lentil recipes in store and a typical meal will consist of ‘Dal’, ‘Roti’, ‘Achaar’ and Yogurt. In the lower part of the western region where the coast is there, seafood is eaten a lot. Pomfret and Prawns are eaten widely. Goanese cuisine has a rich Portuguese influence and its ‘Sorpotel’, ‘Egg Molie’ and ‘Vindaloo’ are famous.
As you can see, the variety of foods that make up Indian cuisine is mind-boggling and this article just scratches the top of the surface. If you are planning to start cooking Indian anytime soon, it is a good idea to start with a regional cuisine that seems the easiest to you.