In North India, lassi
is the most popular drink may it be sweet or salty,
made from yoghurt. The south and the west offer fresh
coconut. Cold coffee, hot coffee or tea is available
in all the parts of India, as Indians have tea at any
time of the day, but coffee is more popular in south.
Fruit juices are available fresh and also in bottles
or packs. Liquor stores abound in major cities.
India offers a variety
of breads like roti, parantha, puri, nan etc there are
over 50 varieties of them you name it and you have it
and all of them have a different taste.
The commonest bread is
the chappati or roti as usually called, which you can
see Indians making in any odd corner over angithis or
chulhas using wood or charcoal. Basically, the chappati
is just flour and water dough rolled very thin and cooked
like a pancake on slow heat. These are hot and fresh
and you can eat several of them with your vegetable
or meat curry.
A richer version of the
roti is the parantha, which is cooked with butter. It
comes out soft and delicious. Indians also make paranthas
stuffed with potatoes or other vegetables. Stuffed paranthas
are complete meals and are eaten with plain yogurt and
pickles or even with ketchup.
Puris are made from the
same basic dough rolled out thin and round with a wooden
roller and deep fried in clarified butter or vegetable
fat. Similarly, a hot bread made of slightly different
dough is called a luchi in Calcutta.
In the south dosa and
idli substitute for bread. Papad, spiced with pepper
and aniseed, go with every meal. They taste very good
when served hot from the oven. They go better with drinks
India is a country of
sweets, and Indians, if they can afford, would like
to have sweets with almost every meal. Each region has
its own specialties. Basically, various regional recipes
are different forms
of rice puddings, milk puddings, vegetables & fruits
dipped in sweet syrup. Besides, there are varieties
of milk -based Barfis and pastries. Combinations of
all these offer hundreds of varieties. These are decorated
with raisins, almonds, pistachio and the like.
other popular Indian sweets are :-
Kheer, Halwa (pudding), Rasgulla (spongy cheese balls,
dipped in sugar syrup), Gulabjamun, Rasmalai, Sandesh
and many more. Different flavours of Ice creams can
be availed of in any part of the country. Well known
brands of ice-creams are Kwality, Gaylord, Vadilal and
Dollops. 'Kulfi' is the Indian version of Ice-cream.
Most Indian sweets are
made by boiling down milk to remove the moisture. It
is called khoa. Adding butter, sugar and many other
flavours, these are turned into barfi, malai, kheer,
rasgulla and sandesh.
As the meal comes to an end there is this item 'Paan'
which is a betel leaf wrapped around a variety of ingredients.
The paan-seller is to be found in every nook and corner
of not only cities and towns but even in villages and
other smaller places. He is omnipresent in the sense
that one can find a paan shop at railway stations, outside
the theatres, or bus stops. Every paan seller has his
special recipe to make. There are as many styles of
paan as the states of India but the one made in betel
leaf is more popular as it is concidered to be digestive.
You may try one if you do not mind your lips coloured
in blood red. There are lots of varieties of paan but
four famous varieties of paan are Banarasi, Calcutta,
Meetha and Sada.
The variety of refreshments
available is as diverse as the country itself. Each
region has its typical and local speciality but some
common features are that they are ususally spicy, easily
available, and inexpensive. The most popular and commonly
known is 'chat', a spicy mix of different ingredients,
topped with tangy chutneys (sauce). Indians are very
fond of chat and it is available across the country
in one form or other. 'Bhel puri' is type of chat famous
in Mumbai. Chinese Food is very common and easily available
in major cities. Delhi, Mumbai and other big cities
have very good Chinese restaurants. For those who do
not relish spicy flavour, do not get disheartened, there
is a choice of sandwiches, pancakes, burgers etc. available
Some other well known
snacks which can be savoured are:-
'Samosa' 'Pakoras' 'Alu Tikki' 'Kachori' (very common
in Uttar Pradesh) 'Pao Bhaji'(very common in Maharashtra)
'Gol Gappa' 'Dhokla' (very common in Gujarat) To relish
these snacks, one should develop the taste for them.
There is a whole range
of curry dishes from different parts of India each having
its own distinct flavour as for the matter of convenience,
we can broadly divide Indian food into four different
regions -- North, West, South and East. Food in India
has now become an All -India affair. One can eat any
kind of regional food in major cities of India.
In North India, there is abundance of meat, vegetables,
almonds, dairy products, chilies and wheat therefore,
we find people have a preference for wheat bread in
the shape of nan, roti, puri or parathas. Contrary to
the belief North Indians are meat-eaters, a meat dish
is only an additional dish while a vegetable curry and
dal (lentil curry) are generally a must in a total meal
served in an Indian home.
Cooking medium in the
North is pure ghee (clarified butter) though it is now
used sparingly due to its high price. Other vegetable
fats are now more commonly used as cooking media. North
Indian cooking is the most succulent in India. The Mughlai
food, associated with northern India, derives its name
from the influence of Muslims. Bread is more commonly
eaten than rice. The omnipresent chappati is the common
man's fare, Nan is kind of a luxury and goes well with
tandoori food. Another variety of bread is parantha,
a rich bread of wheat flour made with clarified butter.
It is tasty and soft.
Foreigners are familiar
with India's tandoori food as most Indian restaurants
overseas serve it. Tandoori chicken or mutton is a barbecued
food, which is spiced and marinated in yogurt for a
few hours before it is cooked. Tandoori chicken with
Nan, green salad and a dessert is really the food for
a maharajah. Foreign visitors to India cannot resist
its temptation. It is not overly spiced and is nearest
to western cooking.
Delhi is also popular
for kababs, they come in many varieties, some of these
are: Boti Kabab, Reshmi Kabab, Pasinda Kabab, Seekh
Kabab, and Shammi Kabab. The last
one made with a spiced paste of ground meat mixed
with spices and fried over a low fire.
The other delicacies of
the Northern Indian cuisine are biryani, which is a
dish of rice saffron and marinated lamb or chicken.
Pulao is a slightly less complicated version of biryani.
There is another exciting version -sweet pulao-made
with rice, coconut, Almonds, mangoes and papayas. If
you are not eating Tandoori dishes of mutton, fish or
chicken, other choices are Rogan josh, lamb curry, Kofta,
Korma, or Dopiaza. Dopiaza is made with lots of onions.
Korma, is particularly rich and Koftas are meat-ball
curry. Koftas come in many forms. The large ones are
stuffed with boiled eggs.
Accompanying the North
Indian meal well be a small helping of dal (lentil soup).
Options for vegetarians, there is a choice of paneer
(cheese), Sag paneer (Cheese with spinach), Bharta,
a delicious vegetable made from egg plant and several
other curry dishes combining cauliflower, potatoes and
other vegetables. Cauliflower and cheese dishes are
also cooked in a tandoor. The dessert often made is
Kheer, firni (pudding) or halwa. Kashmiri food has also
been influenced by Mughlai food. It has more varieties
of meat dishes. There is plenty of lamb in Kashmir.
Kashmiri food is a little more spicy than the typical
North Indian dishes.
Tea time snacks include
stuffed pastry, samosas, fritter-like pakoras and any
number of sweets made from milk paste, i.e. Rasgulla,
Gulab Jamun or Barfi.
In this part of India rice is the staple diet. As fish
is plentiful most dishes revolve round this raw materials.
Food in Mumbai is different from food in the rest of
the country may be because of the presence of small
but influential communities of Parsis and other minorities
like the Sindhis, Punjabis, Goans and Khoja Muslims.
Dhansak, a contribution
of the Parsis, is a dish made with chicken or lamb and
cooked with generously spiced puree, on a mixture of
lentils and vegetables. Dhansak is served in
many restaurants of Bombay, specially on Sundays.
The Portuguese influence
is evident in Goan cuisine. One of Goa's best known
dishes is Vindaloo chicken, pork or fish cooked with
spices and vinegar. Unlike other Indians, Goans eat
a lot of pork and Vindaloo is often cooked with pork.
Their fresh sausages have also a special taste. They
also eat a lot of fresh seafood.
The Sindhis, who migrated
from Sindh in Pakistan, has brought their own cuisine,
it is very popular and is more often meat based. Bombay
Duck is the nick name of a seafish, very tasty when
curried or fried.
The Maharashtrians and
the Gujaratis, the original natives of this region,
have their quota of meat-eaters, but the majority of
them are vegetarians. Their cuisine involves subtle
spicing and light cooking using sprouted lentils. Gujaratis
favour sweet and sour dishes. People in the western
region eat, both wheat and rice, though more rice than
South is predominantly
vegetarian except places on the coast. A whole lot of
vegetarian cuisine has been developed over the centuries.
There is so much of variety that a visitor is dazzled
by the choice offered to him. South Indians eat a lot
of rice as For vegetarians, south India is a heaven.
Their vegetarian food provides a lot of variety especially
the Brahmin cuisine, which is different from the non
- Brahmin food. An orthodox South Indian Brahmin is
a strict vegetarian steering away from even garlic,
onion and tomatoes. Tamarind grows here and so do chilies.
Coconut is freely available. And the lentil that grows
here is 'arhar', a yellow lentil, it is a combination
of this with tamarind, spices and vegetables which makes
Sambhar their staple dish and is eaten twice a day,
Rasam (Mulligatawny) is a lentil - based soup, taken
at both lunch and dinner. A typical meal in the South
consists of sambhar, rasam, two or three vegetable preparations,
often cooked with grated Coconut and yogurt and eaten
with boiled rice.
However, the most popular
dishes that have come out of the South are dosas and
idli and dosa eating joints can be found as far in the
Himalayas as Leh in Ladakh or in Sikkim, Bhutan and
Kathmandu. Both are made with a mixture of ground-fermented
rice and dal. They are served with Sambhar and Coconut
chutney. Dosas are griddle-fried pancakes; idlis are
more like steamed cakes, prepared in a specially casted
vessel. Though there is a measure of similarity between
the foods of the four states of South India, but the
cuisine of Hyderabad. Typical Hyderabadi food has Muslim
overtones and includes dishes like Baghara baigan, a
distinctive dish of mutton. The biryani in Hyderabad
also tastes different.
In Bengal, food has a tendency to be sweet and depends
on rice as the mainstay of the meal. Catering is perhaps
the most serious business in the life of a Bengali.
The first thing he does in the morning is to shop for
food and vegetables.
For most Bengalis, seafish
is infra-dig. Their preference is for fresh water fish,
fortunately there is an abundance of it in many homes
in rural Bengal having their own fish ponds. Mustard
seeds and mustard oil are generally used in cooking
their fish dishes. Bhetki, special fish of Bengal, specially
lends itself to Western style of cooking and is recommended
while you are in Calcutta.
If Bengali's first love
is fish, then without doubt the second is sweets. Special
and typical sweets that come from Bengal are Sandesh
and Rasgullas, made in different ways from cottage Cheese.
One notable exception is misti doi (sweetened yogurt).
Bengali cuisine is unique in India where plain yogurt
Traditionally sweets are
prepared at home. However due to the pressures of modern
life this has now changed so that it is only on special
occasions that sweets are prepared at home. Otherwise
they are bought at a confectioner and this goes for
misti -doi also.
If the preparation of food is important to Indians,
its presentation is no less significant. Traditionally
Indian food is served either on a well washed large
banana leaf or in a thali (large plate made of brass,
steel or silver). On it several katoris (little bowls)
are placed to hold small helping of each dish. Porcelain
plates are a Western innovation which was introduced
in affluent Indian homes in recent years.
The most commonly used spices and herbs in Indian cooking
are asafoetida (hing), cardamom (elaichi), clove (laung),
cinnamon (Dalchini), cumin seeds (jeera), corriander
(dhania), garlic (lahusan), ginger (adarak), turmeric
(haldi), green/red chilly (mirch), aniseed and various
Turmeric is used almost
in every dish as it helps to preserve food and gives
the dish a pleasant, natural yellow colour besides it
also has digestive properties. Ginger is considered
good for digestion and many people like it not only
in their food but also eat it as a salad and also in
tea with tea masala. Coriander seeds or leaves (for
garnishing) are used in most Indian dishes as they have
a cooling effect on the body. Cardamom is strong and
sweet, it has a nice flavour and is used in most dishes
and curries, also helps in digestion. Saffron, the most
expensive spice, presents a large effect and fragrance
with a little quantity. To produce one pound of saffron,
several thousand flowers are needed. It is grown in
the valley of Kashmir and is used for its flavour.
Mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg,
pepper, cloves, poppy and caraway seeds are also used
in Indian dishes. Masala is the name given to a blend
of many spices. It may be dry or in a liquid paste.
Garam Masala is a blend of fragrant spices only, it
can be prepared in advance and stored. Now a days, various
blends of packed Garam Masalas are available in stores.
The packet tells you for what kind of dish it can be
used. The Garam Masalas generally contain cinnamon,
cloves, cumin seeds mace, coriander seeds, nutmeg, and