My personal favorite – Gujarati Cuisine
Gujarati cuisine is primarily vegetarian. The typical Gujarati Thali consists of Roti (a flat bread made from wheat flour, and called Rotli in Gujarati), daal or kadhi, rice, and sabzi/shaak (a dish made up of different combinations of vegetables and spices, which may be stir fried, spicy or sweet).
Cuisine can vary widely in flavor and heat, depending on a given family’s tastes as well as the region of Gujarat they are from. North Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh, and South Gujarat are the four major regions of Gujarati cuisine. Many Gujarati dishes are distinctively sweet, salty, and spicy at the same time. The cuisine changes with the seasonal availability of vegetables. In mango season, for example, Keri no ras (fresh mango pulp) is often an integral part of the meal. The spices used also change depending on the season. Garam masala and its constituent spices are used less in summer. Regular fasting, with diets limited to milk and dried fruits, and nuts, is a common practice.
The daily diet of Himachalis is similar to the rest of north India, including lentil, broth, rice, vegetables and bread, although non-vegetarian cuisine is preferred. Some of the specialities of Himachal include Pateer, Chouck, Bhagjery and chutney of Til.
Jammu & Kashmir
Kashmiri cuisine has evolved over hundreds of years. The first major influence was the food of the Kashmiri Hindus and Buddhists. The cuisine was then influenced by the cultures which arrived with the invasion of Kashmir by Timur from the region of modern Uzbekistan. Subsequently, it has been strongly influenced by the cuisines of Central Asian, Persia, and the North Indian plains. The most notable ingredient in Kashmir cuisine is mutton (lamb), of which there are over 30 varieties.
Kashmiri Pandit food is also very elaborate, and is an important part of the Pandits’ ethnic identity. One of the key differences between Kashmiri cuisine and Punjabi cuisine is that the staple in Kashmiri cuisine is rice, whereas that in Punjabi cuisine is Chappati also known as Roti. The Kashmiri Pandit cuisine usually uses yogurt, oils and spices as such turmeric, Red Chilli powder, Cumin powder, Ginger powder and Fennel Powder.
Traditional Jharkhand cuisine is equally vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian. These traditional dishes are not available at the restaurants as they have not been commercialised. However on a visit to a tribal village or a tribal wedding in a remote area one can get a chance to taste such exotic food. All preparation except the pickles and festive ones are low on oil and spices.
The cuisine of Karnataka includes many vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines. The varieties reflect influences from the food habits of the three neighbouring South Indian states, as well as the state of Maharashtra and Goa to its north. Some typical dishes include Bisi bele bath, Jolada rotti, Chapati, Ragi rotti, Akki rotti, Saaru, Huli, Vangi Bath, Khara Bath, Kesari Bath, Davanagere Benne Dosa, Ragi mudde, and Uppittu. Masala Dosa traces its origin to Udupi cuisine. Plain and Rave Idli, Mysore Masala Dosa and Maddur Vade are popular in South Karnataka. Coorg district is famous for spicy pork curries while coastal Karnataka has seafood specialities. Among sweets, Mysore Pak, Dharwad pedha, Chiroti are well known. Although the ingredients differ regionally, a typical Kannadiga Oota (Kannadiga meal) includes the following dishes in the order specified and is served on a banana leaf: Uppu(salt), Kosambari, Pickle, Palya, Gojju, Raita, Dessert, Thovve, Chitranna, Rice and Ghee. The coastal regions of Mangalore and Udupi have a slightly varying cuisine with extensive use of coconut in curries and an inclination towards sea food. Some of the Mangalore specialities are pathrode, pundi, neer dosa, kori rotti, tendli kaju, goli baje, basale (type of spinach), kashi halva, etc.
Kerala cuisine is a blend of indigenous dishes and foreign dishes adapted to Kerala tastes. Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala, and consequently, grated coconut and coconut milk are widely used in dishes and curries as a thickener and flavouring ingredient. Kerala’s long coastline, numerous rivers and backwater networks, and strong fishing industry have contributed to many sea- and river-food based dishes. Rice is grown in abundance, and could be said, along with tapioca (manioc/cassava), to be the main starch ingredient used in Kerala food. Having been a major production area of spices for thousands of years, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon play a large part in its food. Most of Kerala’s Hindus eat fish except the Brahmin community and because Kerala has large minorities of Muslims and Christians that are predominantly non-vegetarians, Kerala cuisine has a multitude of both vegetarian and dishes prepared using fish, poultry and meat. Rice and fish along with some vegetables is the staple diet in most Kerala households. Kerala also has a variety of breakfast dishes like idli, dosa, appam, idiyappam, puttu and pathiri.
There is more to come!