While people all over the world relish Indian food, most people are not aware that Indian food is as diverse as its culture. Every region of India has its own forms of food which each with a distinctive characteristic. Going into the culinary intricacies of each region is very long winded and time consuming, so, we give you an introduction to the basic food varieties available in India
Broadly speaking, the cuisine of India can be divided into four categories: North Indian, South Indian, East Indian and Western Indian food.
North Indian – North India is the wheat belt of the nation. The staple meal of this region consists of rotis – unleavened bread roasted over an open flame- with an assortment of vegetable dishes, lentils, curd and pickles. While some parts of Northern India have people who love their meat, there is also a section of society which is purely vegetarian. They get their protein from milk, curd and cottage cheese, all of which are heavily consumed in this region. Everyday foods in Northern India are lightly spiced and mostly stir fried. However, rich foods are found in plenty too and they make generous use of ginger, garlic, and cream to add flavor to the dish.
Eastern India – Eastern Indians are primarily non-vegetarians, with fish being a very popular ingredient. Food flavors are simple and majority of the dishes have a runny consistency. The liberal use of chilies in Eastern Indian food gives their cuisine a hot edge. This is the most fertile part of India which means vegetables are consumed as much as meat and seafood. Rice is the staple accompaniment to the various curries, stews and stir fries that are enjoyed by the people here.
Western India – Western India is largely desert land. The climate being dry and arid, the food here is cooked with minimum water. Use of lentils is widespread in this region, vegetables less so, as not much produce grows here. Lentils in the form of dal - spiced lentil gravy - are as popular as dishes made of ground lentils. Foods are steamed or roasted with dry spices for flavor. Preserves like chutney and pickles are also had at every meal. Non vegetarian food here is rare and the few dishes that do exist are cooked with lots of red chilies and spices.
Southern India – Food in Southern India is mostly steamed or roasted. Rice is the basis of every meal and is usually served with a thin soup called rasam and a spicy lentil gravy called sambar. Tamarind, curd and coconut are three ingredients used generously in most South Indian foods. All foods of this region are heavily flavored with curry leaves, a fragrant herb native to this region. Another characteristic of Southern Indian food is rice mixed with curd. Every South Indian meal includes curd rice as a part of the traditional diet. Various savory chutneys, made of vegetables are also popular throughout Southern India. Also, much like Northern India, there are both non-veg lovers as well as strict vegetarians in this region too.
So, the next time you are at Mantra Indian Restaurant, pick your favorite dishes based on the regional cuisine you’d like to explore, and enjoy the flavors!
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