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
- 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
- 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
Why Indian Cuisine?
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
Note: Lentils and beans combined with rice or wheat form complete proteins
that have all of the eight amino acids.
Aspects of Indian cuisine
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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 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.
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.
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.
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work is dedicated to my mother Shanta who taught me the tenants of Ayurvedic Cuisine and
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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.