Indian Cuisine: It’s History and Evolution

In the 5000 years of Indian history, India has welcomed many settlers from around the world. Indian cuisine has evolved into different forms due to its homogeneous nature. India’s food has been divided according to different religions and regions. Different areas and regions in India have their own cooking recipes, spices and ingredients. With a population of over one billion, the food in India is as diverse as its people.

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Indian cooking has been mostly influenced by Hindu and Muslim style of cooking. Each of the settlers who migrated to India have given their own culinary methods to India. In India, two cultures of cooking are practised i.e. Hindu for vegetarian food and Muslim for cooking of meats. Mughlai food, Kormas(curry), nargis kaftas(meatballs), rogan josh and biryani are some of the favourite dishes that are prepared in a clay over tandoor. If we talk about South India, the cuisine is mostly prepared with rice and a thin soup called Rasam is added to it. Most South Indian recipes have coconut as their main ingredient. Some favourite Hindu dishes of South India include Idli(steamed rice cakes), Dosa(rice pancakes) and fermented rice.

The Indian cooking is largely influenced by Persians, Portuguese and Britishers. For example, the Britishers brought tea/chai into India. Most Indians love Chai.

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Indian cooking has four main regional styles i.e. East, West, North and South. North India was largely influenced by Moghuls. They ruled India for about three centuries and then were replaced by Britishers in 1800s. The Mughals gave us Saffron and rich gravies prepared from cream and pureed nuts. The Naan, which is a tandoori dish is not of the Indian origin. It came from Afghanistan where it is a staple food. Although, most of the people think that Naan is an Indian dish.

The South Indian food is totally opposite to that of North India. Their unique rice crepes and steamed rice cakes are a favourite among South Indians. Rice can be had in any meal and lunch usually has three dishes which can be served with rice.

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Hindus are divided into two categories i.e. meat eating and non-meat eating. In the West, states like Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra have their unique food. In Gujarat, most of the population consists of Parsis, Hindu, Muslims and Jains. Each of them have their own style of cooking. The Parsis have very rich non-vegetarian diet that contains seafood and chicken while Jains are vegetarian. Most people in Gujarat are vegetarians and it’s vegetarian food is very famous.

The sea-food of Mumbai, Maharashtra is very famous. Most of the hotels and restaurants in coastal areas of Maharashtra serve seafood with a little of red chillies and coconut. Eastern states like, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand are very different from each other. Bengali cuisine is very delicate and contains fish and rice as its staple food. The Bengali cuisine is famous for a variety of dishes including mixed veg and milk based sweets.

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Orissa is famous for its squash blossoms which are dipped in paste prepared with rice, deep fried/turned to patties. Some other prominent foods of Orissa include seafood and fish. Bihar and Jharkhand are known for beans and vegetables. But they have Western influence with chicken, beef, goat and pork in their diet.

The Indian cuisine is largely influenced by Indian history. Each historical region have its own unique dishes with many ingredients. But there is a common thing about every region: a fondness for spicy snacks and sweet desserts. Besides being influenced by history, Indian cuisine is also influenced by religion, culture and traditions of India.

There is no other country which offers such a wide variety of exotic dishes with such a large variety of tastes for taste-buds.

Unique Indian Spices

Indian food is known for its distinctive taste and aroma. The delicious Indian food consists of a combination of herbs, flavors and spices. In this article you will find some of the best spices of Indian cuisine. You can try all the spices and explore the variety of tastes present in Indian Cuisine.

TURMERIC

Photo Courtesy: theindiannawaaz

Photo Courtesy: theindiannawaaz

This Indian spice is bright yellow and can be found both in South Indian and North Indian cooking. This unique spice is made from an Indian plant that belongs to the ginger family. It is made by boiling, drying, cleaning and polishing the roots of turmeric plants. It was known as Indian saffron in medieval Europe. In those days, it was very expensive as compared to present saffron spice. It is primarily used in Kashmiri dishes.

CORIANDER

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Coriander powder is popularly known as ‘Dhaniya’ in India. It is available in powdered form or as whole seeds. Fresh coriander, also known as ‘cilantro’ is widely used in Indian Cuisine. The seeds of coriander are used as condiment. Coriander has a sweet and delicate aroma. It can be found in every household of India. It is used in Rasam, Dals, Soups, Curries and Sambar. Many a times, the fresh coriander leaves are used for garnishing finished dishes. Coriander originated in Mediterranean but is found in India and other countries.

CUMIN

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Photo Courtesy: tablespoon

Cumin is also known as ‘Jeera’ in Indian continent. It is available in whole seed form or powdered form. It comes from an annual herb that grows in many parts of the world. Cumin is found in Syria, Egypt, Iran, Mediterranean and India. It also grows in China, Malta, Sicily and Mexico. It is used as a flavoring agent in Indian cooking. It is widely used in preparations that include curry powders, bread seasoning, cheese and cakes and also as a condiment. It is used in small quantities to enhance the taste of the dish. It is being used since 2nd century B.C.

MUSTARD SEEDS

Photo Courtesy: seriouseats

Photo Courtesy: seriouseats

Mustard seeds are produced from an annual herb. They can be used in vegetables, as flavors or as spices. They have variable colors and sizes which include pale yellow, tiny black, brown or white balls. When they are roasted, they release their full flavors. In South India, they are used as Tadka(for increasing flavor) while cooking. The yellow or white mustard comes from southern Europe while brown mustard comes from China. Black mustard seeds have their origin in Southern Mediterranean region.

CURRY

Photo Courtesy: spiceflair

Photo Courtesy: spiceflair

Curry leaves are found on curry tree. Curry is used in South-Indian dishes to add flavor and fragrance. It is grown throughout South India and is used in dry or fresh. It is used as a sauce for many Indian recipes. Curry is also used in marinating tikka and tandoori kebabs. The bark of a curry tree and its roots can be used as a stimulant or tonic. According to researchers, curry has its origins before Christ.

 

These are just a few from a long list of spices. For more info on Indian spices visit>>>http://bit.ly/1G4kbVx

For tasty Indian recipes made from Indian spices, visit>>>tastyfix.com

Eat Curry and Banish Bad Memories

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A recent study suggests that a spice used commonly in curry can help in erasing bad memories. A bright-yellow compound found in turmeric, which is also present in Curcumin prevents storage of new fear memories in the brain. The compound also removed fear memories that were already stored.

A research was conducted in The City University, New York by Psychologists. They found that the rats became scared after hearing a particular sound. The rats froze after hearing a particular sound as they were frightened.

After a few hours, when the same sound was played again to the rats. Those that were given ordinary food froze. But those who were given a curcumin rich diet did not freeze. Thus, it was concluded that fearful memories were erased.

Read more: http://time.com/3649565/curcumin-ptsd/

So, if you are a foodie and visiting India, try the Indian Curry. Maybe, you will not need to visit the psychologist again.

Want to try the Indian Curry? Try this recipe by Sanjeev Kapoor: http://www.tastyfix.com/video/indian-curry-recipe