Published On: Sun, Mar 18th, 2018

Flavours in Indian Cooking

India is a country of diversity. Be it people, languages, customs, traditions, clothes, appearance and last but not the least foods and flavours, it changes as one travels across the length and breadth of this densely populated country.

Flavours in Indian Cooking

Contrary to popular belief, Indian food and cooking is not restricted to tandoori chicken and dosas. These two items are what has been made popular by Indian immigrants in the western world. Though every state in India has its own unique flavours and methods of cooking, Indian flavours can broadly be divided into the geographical regions – north, south, east and west.

North India

The states in the northern part of the country like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by and large are known for their slightly rich and spicy flavours. Commonly used spices are coriander, cumin, red chilli powder, fenugreek, garam masala and almost everything has a hint of onion, ginger, garlic and tomato.

South India

The southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have flavours that are very different from their northern counterparts. By and large, the food in these states is very spicy and there is abundant use of coconut, tamarind and curry leaves in most of their cooking. The coconut could be used in the form of dried or fresh coconut as well as coconut milk.

East India

The country’s eastern states are West Bengal, Orissa, Sikkim and the north-eastern states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam etc. West Bengal is probably the most dominant state in terms of flavours of food. Staple food is rice and fish and spices used are varied. Mustard – both whole as well as ground is used in a lot of Bengali food preparations as is the oil of mustard, which is very sharp and pungent to taste. The north-eastern states have a lot of meats and broths, mainly to keep away the cold in the mountains.

West India

India’s western states are mainly Gujarat and Maharashtra. The food in both these states is quite different from each other. While people from Gujarat are almost always pure vegetarian and the use of onion and garlic is also prohibited in their cooking, Maharashtrians (like the rest of India) are both and non-vegetarians, depending on their caste and religion. Gujarati food uses plenty of green chillies, ginger and jaggery (molasses) in its preparation. Maharasthrian cooking uses coconut, curry leaves and whole mustard seeds very often.

Common Flavours and Spices in Indian Cooking

All across india, some of the commonly used spices are cumin (jeera), coriander (dhania), garam masala (a powdered mixture of comprising of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, whole peppers, nutmeg and mace), bay leaves (tej patta), mustard seeds and green chillies. Each of these spices have an unique flavour of its own and cannot be replaced with other spices.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade.

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