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North Indian Cooking

Thali04.jpg (6172 bytes) A typical North Indian meal would consist of chappatis, parantha or pooris (unleavened flat breads), pilafs, dals, curries that are mild and made in ghee, thick, creamy dals, vegetables seasoned with yogurt or pomegranate powder, lots of greens like spinach and mustard greens cooked with paneer, north Indian pickles, fresh tomato, mint, cilantro chutneys and yogurt raitas. Hot, sweet cardamom milk is very common before going to bed. North Indian desserts and sweets are made of milk, paneer, lentil flour and wheat flour combined with dried nuts and garnished with a thin sheet of pure silver. Nimbu Pani (lemon drink), Lassi (iced buttermilk) are popular drinks of the North.
Tandoori cooking is a north Indian specialty and famous the world over. Tandoori chicken, naan, tandoori roti, tandoori kebabs are a hit in most Indian restaurants.

Northern Indian cuisine has the following main schools of cooking :
Kashmiri, Punjabi , Rajasthani, Marwari, Gharwal and Pahari, UP, Awadh or Luchnawi.
-   Kashmiri -
The piece de resistance in the wazwan, the traditional 24-course banquet with many cooking ways and varieties of meat - some in curry, some dry, some pounded in various sizes.  These are carefully cooked by cooked overnight by the master chef, Vasta Waza, and his retinue of wazas. When I traveled to Kashmir with my family we were invited to a Wazwan given for a wedding.  We were made to sit on the floor in fours and share the meal out of a large metal plate called the trami.  The rice was in a mound in the center which was quartered for the four who sat around the trami.  There was also an earthen pot of freshly made yogurt and chutney for us to share.  The meal began with a ritual washing of hands at a basin called the tash-t-nari, which is taken around by attendants. We were served seekh kababs of 4 varieties - methi korma, tabak maaz, safed murg and zafrani murg, and the first few courses.    Seven dishes are a must for these occasions-- Rista, Rogan Josh, Tabak Maaz, Daniwal Korma, Aab Gosht, Marchwangan Korma and Gushtaba.
-  Punjabi - Sarson ka saag, originating from Punjab. This dish of mustard greens simmered and slow cooked over coals along with rajma, kali ma or lentils and served in dhabas or roadside stalls which many say has the best food in Northern India.  The dishes are served with unleavened bread of cornmeal or wheat and a dollop of butter or with steamed basmati rice.
-  Rajasthan - Gram flour or Besan is a major ingredient here and is used to make some of the delicacies like Khata, Gatte Ki Sabzi and Pakodi. Powdered lentils are used for Mangodi and Papad. Bajra and corn are used all over the state for preparations of Rabdi, Khichdi and Rotis. Sweets include Laddoos, Malpuas, Jalebies, Rasogullas, Mishri Mawa, Mawa Katchori , Sohan Halwa, Mawa and many more
- Uttar Pradesh - Most families in Uttar Pradesh eat vegetarian food.     Banaras, India's holiest city is in UP, is famous for it's bazaars full of 'jalebis', sweetmeats and a myriad variety of 'kachoris'. The 'pethas'
- Awadh style of cooking are world famous for its tender meat dishes and excellent sweets.
- Lucknow is known world wide for its biryanis and different meat preparations. Nihari and naan, a mutton dish served for breakfast is one of the dishes that should be tasted to be believed.

Eastern Indian cuisine has the 3 schools of Cuisine :
Bengali and Assam, NorthEastern States and Oriya.  Here due to the many river tributaries that commence in the mighty Himalayas and pour into the Bay of Bengal both fish and rice are a very important part of an Eastern diet.
-  Bengali -
Bengali food is symbolized by rice and fish. It is a coastal cuisine which has the most rains that occur in Monsoon India. The other characteristic of its cuisine is the use of coconut, mustard oil instead of ghee or peanut or coconut oil and its famous panchpuran or combination of five spices of nigella, fennel, cumin, mustard and funugreek.  It also has many sweet and sour dishes.

Western Indian cuisine has the following styles :
Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Konkani, Goan and Parsi
-   Gujarati food has been influenced by the Chinese cuisine and is different from most all Indian cuisine's in that the Gujaratis serve their sweets with the meal.  This is also a reason why there is more sweet and sour taste in their dishes.  The Gujarati savories are now famous all over India - crisp spicy fried 'farsans', which can be bought at wayside stalls like Chevda, ghatia. Gujaratis take simple ingredients and with their culinary talent turn them into great dishes. Popular items include a delicious vegetable concoction Undhiu, Gujarati Kadhi, - a savoury curry made of yoghurt. Some common dishes include Khaman Dhokla, a salty steamed cake, Doodhpak, a sweet, thickened milk confectionery and Shrikhand, dessert made of yogurt, flavored with saffron, cardamom.
-  Maharashtrian - Maharashtra has for its capital Bombay or Mumbai.     Marathi food uses lots of fish, coconuts, grated coconuts, peanuts and cashewnuts are widely used in vegetables. Peanut oil is the main cooking medium.
Goan food has been influenced by the Portuguese.  It has incredible seafood recipes and is known for its spicy coconut curries.  The Goans make full use of their proximity to the sea coast by using fish, crabs, lobsters and tiger prawns, which a cooked in a coconut, garlic hot sauce or dry spices making this cuisine full of variety and exciting. And to top it all, there is the locally manufactured liquor served all over Goa.
- Konkani cuisine is a good blend of North and south Indian cuisine's but has many distinct features and recipes.  Some recipes use the sweet of the Gujaratis, the cuisine has its own coconut and spice blends and green chili, fresh coconut flakes, sesame seeds and peanuts are regularly used. 
The Parsi's were originally from Persia, which is now Iran.    
Zoroastrianism is a religion founded in ancient times by the prophet Zarathushtra, known to the Greeks as Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism was the dominant world religion during the Persian empires (559 BC to 651 AC), and was thus the most powerful world religion at the time of Jesus. It had a major influence on other religions. It is still practiced world-wide, especially in Iran and India. The influence of there old home Iran and the influence of Gujarat where they landed to escape religious persecution is reflected in their cuisine.  The Parsi cuisine is deliciously spiced and one of the specialty "Dhansak", a mutton, lentil and vegetable potpourri served with brown rice consumed with a pint of lager. Some other dishes are "Kolmino patio" - a sweet and sour prawn curry, "Dhandal patio" - fish curry served with rice and lentils.

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