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Chaitra Navratri

The History of Indian Cuisine

Posted by : Indrani Bagchi on | Feb 22,2013

Indian cuisine has a rich history behind and has flourished over the years under the influence of rulers that India had in the past. Since India is a land of rich cultural diversity, Indian food is equally diversified, with different spices, ingredients, herbs and seasonings, which are again region specific. The hospitality in an Indian household is well known. Indians feel happy if they can serve food to guests or people who are hungry!


The golden heritage of Indian cooking dates back to the times of famous kings, or  ‘rajahs', who were great patrons of art, music and architecture, as well as connoisseurs of exotic delicacies. 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. Over the years, those royal recipes have retained their popularity in common Indian household, alongside ethnic Indian dishes.


Indian cuisine is becoming vastly popular throughout the world because of its exotic flavors, colors and healthy preparations. Indian food is rich in fresh veggies, fruits, seasonal food items, which are garnished with fresh herbs, spices, vegetable oils and other natural seasonings. Of course, there are many dishes which use spices sparingly, like some preparations of fresh prawns and fishes. You will find Indian food in all possible flavors – salty, sweet, sour, bitter and pungent. You will find people in India who are vegans, hence a wide assortment of vegetarian dishes occupy a major portion of Indian cuisine. Our cuisine has been influenced by the Aryan settlers, the Arab and Chinese traders and conquerors such as the Persians, Mongolians, Turks, the British and the Portuguese.


Today, you will find Indian cuisine being vastly popular in Europe, America and the Asian countries. Thanks to the various Indian restaurants abroad and its expert chefs, Indian culinary art has touched the skies today! Acclaimed politicians, world leaders, diplomats and celebrities today are big time aficionados of Indian curries, kebabs and tikkas.


The best part of Indian food is its easy preparation and health benefits. There are meals that are rich in carbohydrate or protein, or high on fibre. The benefits of different spices and herbs like turmeric, cumin seeds and ginger is well known today. Yogurt is an essential ingredient in Indian delicacies, which make them easy to digest. Many dishes can be cooked in a pressure cooker or electric pan, which saves time. The whole wheat dough for chapattis and rotis can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. Full menus can easily be prepared in half an hour.


People residing in Southern parts of India prefer foods which are sour in taste, while those in the North have a liking for spicy spreads. However, spices are used skillfully, because not all dishes are meant to be smoking hot! Spices are used in a way which adds aroma and color to the dish. Cooks in India have mastered the art of using spices and seasonings, keeping the health benefits in mind. Butter or ghee (clarified butter) is a favorite for frying and seasoning, but mustard oils, sunflower oils, sesame oils and coconut oils are also widely popular.


Very few Indian dishes will be complete without condiments. You will find an array of various mouthwatering fresh herbal chutneys, dried fruit chutneys and hot pickles which complement an Indian meal. 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.


The look and the flavor of Indian dishes are simply irresistible. Think India, think food! Muck akin to the diversity of Indian climate, soil, culture and language, Indian cuisine has various avatars and is continuously evolving due to globalization. Today most cities in the world boast of Indian restaurants and expert chefs. There are very few countries globally which can match up to the range, color and aroma of Indian food. Like our incredible cultural heritage, Indian delicacy today is tickling the taste buds of food lovers in each nook and corner of the world!