India is unique in its own way. It is not confined to one culture or one language, but has several cultures flowing through its vast lands and many languages are spoken. It is multi-cultural and multi-lingual unit, encompassing people from various social and ethnic backgrounds. Citizens of India dress up differently, have different cuisine and their social and religious pursuits vary.
Indian cuisine varies from region to region. Traditionally, some states in India have their own unique dishes, which they often prepare during religious and social gatherings. Let us have a look at them:
What are the traditional foods of India?
Northern Region and Western region – Meals in this region consist mostly of chapattis (rotis) accompanied y Dal (pulses), vegetables and curds (Yoghurt). Rice is also taken but in lesser quantity. Side dishes consist of chutney(preserves) as well as achar(pickles). There are the Mughlai and Kashmiri cuisines, which represent the Central Asian influence. People from this region also consume a lot of milk based sweets. In the north, breakfast often consists of Paranthas rolled (chapattis made of ghee) and puris (small chapatis fried in oil). Maharashtrians love eating fish and meat. Fish is often stuffed or fried lightly. Meat, on the other hand is braised and spiced up with sour and sweet ingredients. Many Punjabis also eat meat. They have lamb and chicken dishes laced with spicy mustard, sweet or onion cream sauces. They also have sweet lassi (buttermilk) and fresh cheese.
Southern region – Mostly rice is consumed and most of the dishes are made up of rice. The consumption of rice is heavy along with vegetables and dal as well as chutney. For breakfast they have Idlis (steamed rice cakes) and Dosas(a type of pancake) , which are made of rice and dal. Upma( a type of porridge), which is also rice based, is also very popular. Sambar (type of liquid soup) is consumed with most of the breakfast items. Coconut is consumed a lot. It is used in chutneys as well as in curries in Kerala. The staple food of south is rice.
Eastern region – In West Bengal fish is consumed a lot. It is the staple food. Fish and rice is very popular. Sweets are also consumed in plenty. The fish is sauted in yoghurt and marinated in spices, which consist of aniseeds, cumin seeds, mustard, black cumin seed and fenugreek. Mustard oil is used. Most of the sweets are cheese or milk based such as rasgolla, gulab jamun and sondesh. Bengali sweets are quite often served with sticky syrup which is sweet.
Desert areas – In Rajasthan and Gujarat plenty of achar and a variety of dals are consumed as not many vegetables are available. In Gujarat food is generally vegetarian. The staple grain is millet, wheat being secondary. Other stuff consumed are sesame, peanuts and several vegetables. Pulses are very essential as a source of protein for the Gujaratis, whether taken as a side dish or as soup known as Dal. “Kichdi” is also very popular, which consists of mild rice and lentils.
Snacks – A number of snacks are consumed in various regions such as samosas, vadas, pakodas, chiwada etc.
Drinks – Coconut milk, lassi (buttermilk), nimbu pani (lemonade) coffee and tea are very popular.
Indian dishes are very popular abroad. Several restaurants in the West offer Indian cuisine. Generally, India cuisine is considered to be spicy, but the sweets can be very tasty to eat.