Food tourism in India is rapidly gaining more and more popularity all around the world. The country boasts of wide range of tastes and flavours. With differences in geography and culture come the differences in cuisines. Indian culture gives huge importance to being a good host. Be it marriage, meeting, birthday or any other kinds of functions, dining and cuisine is one of the important part of Indian culture and lifestyle and varied from one culture to another.
The variety of cuisines mostly depends on local climatic conditions, social conditions along with the geographical location which majorly define the food habits. Mots defining features of all kinds of Indian cuisine is extensive use of herbs and spices along with vegetables. The pattern of cooking and the dishes prepared also differs with various religions. India has various religious groups living in their unique ways.
Dishes belonging to various cuisines differ in taste, colour, texture and appearance. However, one aspect that is common to all kinds of Indian cooking is use of spices and special herbs. For flavours essence, nutmeg, saffron, cinnamon and cardamom are majorly used. Other spices that are used extensively in Indian cooking are red chilli powder, black pepper, turmeric, ginger powder, asafoetida, coriander, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, etc.
The prominent history of Indian cuisines can be traced back from Vedic Hindus who resided in the country. However, later with various invasions and races coming from different parts of the world such as Portugal, Britain, Greeks, Mughals, Portuguese, Persians, etc. the country saw impressive influence of their respective cuisine on Indian Cuisine which presented a mouth-watering and varied kinds of food habits.
Indian cuisines can be categorized in many ways. One can divide the same based on geographical location such as Cuisine of South India, Cuisine of Eastern India and Cuisine of North India. Following are also one of the way to categories various cuisines of India.
Essentially a meat based cuisine, Kashmiri cuisine has most of its famous dishes made from lamb, goat's meat and chicken meat. You will find use to saffron and Kashmiri chilli in the dishes which is quite specific to Kashmiri Cuisines. Dry fruit like walnuts, dried dates, and apricots along with cottage cheese or ‘chaman’ is also hugely used in the dishes belonging to this particular cuisine. Because of the cold climate, some specific fruits are grown in part of the country such as strawberries, plums, cherries and apples which also form important part of the meals.
Quite popular not just in India but in the entire world, the Punjabi cuisine presents you with mouth-watering and rich delicacies varying from marinated meat to chicken to fish to paneer to breads such as rotis (of various kinds), naans, parathas, etc. to sumptuous list of sweets. It majorly includes tandoori cooking. Influence of mughals can also be seen in Punjabi cuisine such as in murgh makhani where the gravy component can be related to the Mughal style of preparation. The drink such as lassi is also very specific of Punjabi cuisine.
Mughlai Cuisine is nothing less than a royal cuisine. The dishes in the Mughlai cuisines are rich and prepared with elongated methods and precision. Rich sauces, butter-based curries, ginger flavoured roast meats, and exquisite sweets define this cuisine. The cuisine offers you with amazing varieties ranging from tangy shorba to the rose petal strewn kulfi to delicately prepared meats, etc.
Bengalis cuisine is most popular for its sweets and fish preparations. Some of the famous sweet from this cuisine are rasgulla, gulab jamuns, cham cham, chena murki, anarkali, rajbhog, mishti dohi, etc. The cuisine has wide varieties of fish delicacies. The spices used in cuisine slightly differ from central part of India. Use of panch phoron which is prepared from five basic spices which include jeera, kalonji, saunf, fenugreek and mustard seeds is a speciality of Bengali food.
Hyderabadi cuisine is not just one way of cooking. It includes both the original Andhra style of cooking and Mughlai influenced cooking style. Hyderabadi cuisine is known for its richness and aromas. Use of exotic spices along with ghee and dry fruits and nuts can be easily seen in Hyderabadi cuisine. The meat of lamb is widely used in non-vegetarian dishes. Hyderabadi Biryani & haleem is something which is known to everyone.
Goan cuisine offers some unique flavours that are totally different from other Indian Cuisine. Delicacies such as the tangy pork 'vindaloo', spicy 'sorpotel' and the ever popular Goan fish curry with rice treat your palate in the best way possible. Fish based dishes along with coconut are quite well known. Goan meals are often accompanied by local liquor “Feni”. Coconut milk, ‘kokum’, a sour, deep red coloured fruit with sharp and sour flavour, red Goan chillies, tamarind forms important part of many Goan dishes. For lovers of seafood, Goan cuisine offers mouth-watering preparations of prawns, lobsters, crabs, and jumbo pomfrets. Goan sweets like bebinca, dodol, rose-a-coque, etc. are also quite famous.
Rajasthani food is something incomparable to any other cuisine. The cuisine has been greatly influenced by its geographical situation that is availability of food items in the desert region and historical background. Thus scarcity of water and war like situation has influenced the cuisine to a large extent. For instance, in Rajasthani cuisine, dried lentils and beans from plants like sangri, ker etc. are staples of the Rajasthani diet unlike rest of the country where wheat and rice form the major part of any meal. Spices like fenugreek seeds, kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and aniseed, along with asafoetida, black rock salt, ginger and ajwain are extensively used in cooking.
Maharashtrian Cuisine also offers some exotic delicacies, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. From sweets like puran poli, ukdiche modak, shrikhand to wide varieties of meat and fish based dishes to vegetarian delicacies, the cuisines promises some relishing moments for sure. Think of Gujarati cuisine and images of undhiyu, traditional Gujarati khichdi, kadhi, khaman dhokla, doodh pak, etc. come to our mind. Gujarati cuisine is a delight for not just vegetarians but for all food lovers.