The staples of Indian cuisine are Pearl millet (bajra), rice, whole wheat flour (atta), and a variety of pulses, of which the most central to this cuisine are masoor (most often red lentils), channa (bengal gram), toor (pigeon pea or yellow gram), urad (black gram), and moong (green gram). Pulses may be used whole, dehusked – for example, dhuli moong or dhuli urad – or split. Split pulses, or dal, are used extensively. Some pulses, such as channa and mung, are also processed into flour (besan).
Most Indian curries are cooked in vegetable oil. In northern and western India, peanut oil is popular, while in eastern India, mustard oil is more commonly used. Coconut oil is used widely along the western coast, especially in Kerala; gingelly (sesame) oil is common in the south, as well. In recent decades, sunflower and soybean oil have become popular across India. Hydrogenated vegetable oil, known as Vanaspati ghee, is another popular cooking medium. Butter-based ghee, or desi ghee, is used very frequently, but still less used than before.
The most important or frequently used spices in Indian cuisine are chilli pepper, black mustard seed (sarso), cumin (jeera), turmeric (haldi), fenugreek (methi), asafoetida (hing), ginger (adrak), coriander (dhania), and garlic (lehsun). One popular spice mix is garam masala, a powder that typically includes five or more dried spices, especially cardamom, cinnamon, and clove. Each region, and sometimes each individual chef, has a distinctive garam masala blend. Goda masala is a comparable, though sweet, spice mix that is popular in Maharashtra. Some leaves commonly used for flavoring include bay (tejpat), coriander, fenugreek, and mint leaves. The use of curry leaves and roots is typical of Gujarati and all South Indian cuisine. Sweet dishes are seasoned with cardamom, saffron, nutmeg, and rose petal essences.All of these can be found at any Indian store.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Seafood plays a major role in the cuisines of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which were, and still are inhabited by the indigenous Andamanese. Since they had very little contact with the outside world, raw fish and fruits were their staple diet for a long time, but as people immigrated from other regions of India, the cuisine became more varied.
Cuisine of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh is referred to as Telugu and Hyderabadi cuisine. Rice is the staple starch and is usually consumed with a variety of curries and lentil soups or broths. Although many people in this region are vegetarians, people living in the coastal areas are known for their seafood dishes. Food in Andhra Pradesh is known for the heavy usage of spices and chillies. One of the most important parts of the Andhra cuisine is the use of various pickles, such as avakaya, a pickle made from green mango, and gongura, a pickle made from red sorrel leaves. Curds are a common addition to meals to neutralize the spiciness of the food. Another popular Andhra Pradesh dish is Hyderabadi biryani, a mixture of rice, yogurt, onions, meat and spices. Hyderabadi biryani is popular for its exquisite taste and is derived from the Persian style of slow cooking. While only a small proportion of the Hyderabad populace are vegetarians, vegetarian food is still quite popular, and is generally served for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast items like Dosa, Vada have origins in Udipi, Karnataka but are influenced by spices native to Andhra Pradesh.
Assamese cuisine, from Assam, a state in North-East India, is a mixture of different indigenous styles with considerable regional variation and some external influences. Although it is characterized by the limited use of spices, the flavors are still strong due to the use of endemic exotic herbs, fruits and vegetables that are either fresh, dried or fermented. Fish is widely used, and so are birds such as duck or pigeon. Preparations are rarely elaborate; the practice of bhuna, the gentle frying of spices before the addition of the main ingredients, which is so common in Indian cooking, is absent in the cuisine of Assam. A traditional meal in Assam begins with a khar, a class of dishes named after the main ingredient, and ends with a tenga, a sour dish. The food is usually served in bell metal utensils. Pann, the practice of chewing betel nut, generally concludes the meal.
Daman and Diu
Daman and Diu is a union territory of India which, like Goa, was a former colonial possession of Portugal. Consequently, both native Gujarati food and traditional Portuguese food are available. The neighbouring state of Gujarat has prohibited alcohol, and as a result, dining and wining is the most popular pleasure in the territory, with almost all popular brands of foreign liquor available.
Seafood, coconut milk, rice and paste are main ingredients of Goan delicacies. The area is located in a tropical climate, and spices and flavors are intense. Use of Kokum is a distinct feature. Goan cuisine is mostly seafood based; the staple foods are rice and fish. Kingfish (Vison or Visvan) is the most common delicacy, others include pomfret, shark, tuna and mackerel. Among the shellfish are crabs, prawns, tiger prawns, lobster, squid and mussels. The cuisine of Goa is influenced by its Hindu origins, four hundred years of Portuguese colonialism, and modern techniques. The state is frequented by tourists visiting its beaches and historic sites, so its food has an international aspect. Goan Saraswat Brahmin and Daivajna Brahmins can be considered facultative vegetarians, as they eat fish and chicken most days, reverting to vegetarianism occasionally for religious reasons, although Brahmins belonging to Pancha Dravida are strictly vegetarian.To be continued…..