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REFERENCE

About Indian Beauty

About India and its History

Indian Culinary History

India's Vegetarian Culinary Culture

The Jain Influence on India's Cuisine

The Muslim Influence on India's Cuisine

Indian Cuisine

What is Curry?

The Role of Indian Spices

North Indian Cuisine

South Indian Cuisine

Indian Cooking Techniques

Indian Restaurant Guide
North Indian Restaurant
South Indian Restaurant

Indian Entertaining

Food Pyramid

Glossary

Ayurveda

Healthy Eating


Indian Cuisine
Guides to Cooking Indian Food
 

NorthI3.jpg (5804 bytes) Indian food has evolved over centuries and has flourished under the many rulers that India had. Chefs vied with one another to create exotic delicacies for their rajah's. The result is centuries of patronage to the art of cooking and a large repertoire of delicious recipes. We want to share the history and nuances of Indian cuisine so the world may be more intimate with our cuisine.

The different aspects of Indian Cuisine
Indian Cuisine is becoming popular due to its exotic flavors and healthful preparations. The repertoire of Indian Cuisine is vast and the following are interesting aspects of the cuisine.

-    Cooking according to tastes : There exists no written recipes in India and the individual is encouraged to orchestrate a dish by using fresh, seasonal and local vegetables. We use spices sparingly and our foods are not necessarily hot. Besides spices we use lots of herbs and other natural seasonings to make our foods sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent.
-    Cultural Influences :. Many Indians are vegetarians having been influenced by Buddha (Indian King and founder of Buddhism), Mahavir (founder of Jainism) and King Ashoka. Our cuisine has been influenced by the Aryans settlers, the Arab and Chinese traders and conquerors such as the Persians, Mongolians, Turks, the British and the Portuguese.
-    Ayurveda : India's ancient science system, has given India a comprehensive system of health, diet and nutrition. India's cuisine has been shaped by this science. Ayurveda is the common thread that runs through the various sub cultures/regions of India. Otherwise, the cuisine can be vastly different from region to region.
-    Diversity:. India is a large country, almost the size of Europe, and has a greater diversity of people, language, climate, cultures and religion than almost any country in the world. Consequently, Indian cuisine is also diverse.
-    Indian Restaurant Cuisine: Many Indian restaurants around the globe are influenced by North Indian Cuisine. Indian restaurant cuisine has been influenced by Indian chefs that had their culinary training in France. They created a fusion of the two great cuisine's by adopting cream sauces in their Indian recipes.
-    Royal Kitchens of India: Under the patronage of the rajahs of India the art of food was elevated to a high level of advancement and professionalism. The royal chefs understood the finer points of food, the art of presentation and created exquisite preparations. 

Why Indian Cuisine?

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Indian cuisine is gaining popularity around globe. It is easy to prepare, tasty and it's mainstay is grains which is what people want today. They want meals that are high in carbohydrates, have ample amounts of a variety of vegetables and contain complete proteins and sparse amounts of Indian food provides this and more - it also has the health promoting properties of various herbs, ginger and spices. Yogurt, an accompaniment to Indian meals introduces good flora (acidophilus) into the digestive system. Many of our menus are vegetarian, which tend to be more alkaline than non-vegetarian menus. Fresh fruit follows Indian meals, which also contributes to an alkaline balance.

Indian cuisine saves time. Many items can be cooked in crockpots, in a pressure cooker or in electric pans. Beans can be soaked overnight. The whole wheat dough for chappatis and rotis can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. Full menus can be prepared within half an hour. Indian Cuisine is also very easy to prepare and we have included many easy recipes.

Since traditionally we cook with tastes rather than with recipes, Indian cuisine has very wholesome tastes designed to satisfy not only the taste buds but also the human physiology.

Note: Lentils and beans combined with rice or wheat form complete proteins that have all of the eight amino acids.
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Aspects of Indian cuisine
shop for Indian Cookbooks
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The hospitality of the Indians is legendary. In Sanskrit Literature the three famous words 'Atithi Devo Bhava' or 'the guest is truly your god' are a dictum of hospitality in India. Indians believe that they are honored if they share their mealtimes with guests. Even the poorest look forward to guests and are willing to share their meager food with guest. And of particular importance is the Indian host's pride that they will not let a guest go away un-fed or unhappy from her home. Indians are known for their incredible ability to serve food to their guests invited or uninvited.

Spices
Spices are an integral part of Indian food. This does not mean that Indian dishes are always hot. It does mean that they are well seasoned and aromatic. There are some hot dishes especially in the South of India, but, overall the dishes of India are skillfully prepared with the cook having a mastery over the properties of spices and how they are blended. The cook will use cooling spices as well as warming spices, bland spices as well as pungent spices, sweet spices as well as hot spices. The cook will also use spices for color and healthful properties. Most cooks in India also know how to use spices seasonally. In everyday cooking in India spices are used very sparingly or the dishes are seasoned with very few spices and are supplemented with fresh herbal seasonings.
Oils
In India, ghee (clarified butter) is favored for frying and seasoning. This is because it can take very high temperatures without becoming rancid unlike virgin oil or unrefined cooking oils. Besides ghee, mustard oil is also used in Bengal and coconut oil is used in the south. Sesame oil is also used especially in sweets.
Condiments
Fresh herbal chutneys, dried fruit chutneys and hot pickles complement an Indian meal. These small additions to the meal take the Indian menu to a higher level of taste experience. They lend strong flavor impact to the meal. They also balance tastes as they are sweet, pungent, hot, and sour all at the same time. the fresh herbal chutneys make the meal very fresh and tasty. Popular fresh chutneys are cilantro, mint, amla, coconut chutneys and popular pickles include lime, mango, and eggplant. Indian pickles are preserved in oil as opposed to vinegar.

Click here for subscribing Culinary Journeys
Indian Cook Books and their Reviews

This work is dedicated to my mother Shanta who taught me the tenants of Ayurvedic Cuisine and Knowledge.

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1990 to 2001 - Kavita Mehta.  All Rights Reserved.
Kavita has been giving classes on Indian Cuisine in Minneapolis for the past 10 years.  She now shares her work on her website for all to enjoy.

 

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