International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

India: Recipes and Cuisine

Indian jalebi vendor

Image Creative Commons by amanderson2

India is more than just a country; it's an entire civilization. The subcontinent is home to an ancient and complex society, and its many cuisines are a delicious mosaic of foods, flavors and ingredients. 

Background

Indian Cuisine: A Background

The typical Indian meal might consist of a meat dish, a vegetable dish, rice or bread, a simmered dal, and a cooling yogurt raita. Often one or two different chutneys are passed as a sort of condiment to the dishes. All this could be followed by an exotic sweet such as gulab jamun. Finally, a whole clove to refresh the breath, and a cup of hot spiced tea to aid in digestion.

The climates and cultures of India determine the nature of regional dishes. The northern parts of India are wheat country. Bread of all kinds accompanies meals. In the torrid climate of the south, rice grows best and is on every plate.

Indian cookery takes seriously the health and medicinal effects of ingredients. Turmeric serves as an antibacterial and digestive aid. Certain spices are thought of as hot or cold, most suitable for particular seasons. And onions and garlic help preserve food in the sometimes torrid climate.

Here are some of the hallmarks of the major culinary traditions of the Indian subcontinent.

Bengali

On the eastern coast, Bengali cuisine offers spicy fish dishes. Its "burnt milk" sweets are renowned across the country.

Goan

On the western coast, Goa state is famous for its coconut fish curries and pork vindaloo. The starch of choice in Goa is rice.

Gujarati

Gujarati cuisine excels in vegetarian fare. The use of dal (Indian lentils and beans) and vegetables is taken to a high art. Yogurt and butter enrich dishes.

Kashmiri

At the foot of the Himalayas, Kashmiris dine on lamb, goat, chicken and dried fruits. A side dish similar to cottage cheese, called chaman, often accompanies meals.

Maharashtran

Maharashra is the home state of Bombay, now known as Mumbai. Meat dishes are very popular, and Bombay street food is considered some of the best.

Mughlai

The royal cuisine of India's moghul past. The Mongols swept down from Asia in the middle ages and installed a regime in India that affected Indian cookery indelibly. Mughlai cooking is what you are most likely to encounter in fine Indian restaurants. It is sumptuous, buttery and rich. A wide variety of meat dishes predominate. And servings are sometimes garnished with silver leaf and flower petals.

Punjabi

This northern province presents the world with the miraculous offerings of the tandoor oven. Tandoori chicken and naan bread are two dishes to emerge from this firey clay roasting vessel. The fresh cheese curd called paneer is common in Punjabi recipes.

Rajasthani

This "state of princes" hones close to its royal past with its rich, lavish fare. Meat dishes are a specialty.

Southern India

The tropical, humid south produces the spiciest of Indian food. Rice, vegetables, peanuts and coconut are cooked with very little fat and served on a fresh green banana leaf.

Recipes

Indian Recipes

Try these recipes from India.

Saag

Indian vendor with a large bundle of fresh saag greens

(Indian spiced spinach)

Samosas

Samosas (Indian, Pakistani deep-fried potato pastries)

(Indian, Pakistani, African deep-fried potato pastries)

Pakora

Pakora (Indian, Pakistani vegetable fritters)

(Indian, Pakistani vegetable fritters)

Naan

Naan (Indian, Pakistani tandoor-baked bread)

(Indian, Pakistani tandoor-baked bread)

Shahi Korma

Shahi Korma (Indian lamb in a creamy nut curry sauce)

(Indian lamb in a creamy nut curry sauce)

Chapati

Chapati (Indian, Pakistani wholewheat flatbread)

(Indian, Pakistani wholewheat flatbread)

Tandoori Murgh

Tandoori Murgh (Indian, Pakistani yogurt-marinated and broiled chicken)

(Indian, Pakistani yogurt-marinated and broiled chicken)

Lassi

Indian lassi vendor

(Indian yogurt drink)

Sambar

Sambar (Indian spicy lentil stew)

(Indian spicy lentil stew)

Pulao

Vegetable rice pulao

(Indian aromatic rice pilaf)

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi (Indian potato and cauliflower curry)

(Indian potato and cauliflower curry)