India’s regional cuisines and recipes

Indian cookery is not the cuisine of a single nationality, but the collective combination of different cuisines from many different countries. The influences of many different cultures, including those of the Moguls, Portuguese, Persians, and British, have over the years given rise to many new ideas in Indian cuisine.

India is a vast subcontinent which is made up of 28 states and 7 union territories, and is home to an astonishing diversity of different peoples, speaking some 15 major languages and about 100 dialects. It is therefore not surprising that the cuisine is varied, with each state having its own cookery traditions and tastes, based on its available seasonal produce, livestock, culture influences, religious aspect, landscape, soil and climate. There are many shared meals but even those shared food are usually prepared subtly different and have slightly different flavors.

In the colder northern states, warming aromatically spiced dishes are eaten, whereas in the intense heat of the southern Indian states the food is generally lighter and uses more coconut and pepper. The various culinary features of each region combine to lend variety, excitement and character to Indian cookery as a whole.

Northern Indian cuisine –

North India (Kashmir, Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan) has extreme climates, summers are hot and winters are cold. There is an abundance of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables to be had. As a result of its geographical position this region of the country has strong Central Asian influences both in its culture and its food. Mughlai and Kashmiri styles of cooking are not just prevalent, they are also popular. The north of the country is famous for its subtly spiced dishes and tandoori cooking, which owes much to the sophistication of the cooks at the luxurious courts of the Mogul emperors, who conquered northern India from Persia. The state of Punjab is very fertile due to the fact that it is irrigated by five major rivers. Although rice does grow here the staple diet is wheat. North Indian curries usually have thick, moderately spicy and creamy gravies. The use of dried fruits and nuts is fairly common even in everyday foods. Dairy products like milk, cream, cottage cheese, vegetable oil, ghee (clarified butter) and yogurt play an important role in the cooking of both savory and sweet dishes.

• Kashmir – Kashmiri curry features sweet flavors and mild spices, cooked with lychees and bananas. Another popular dish in Kashmir is the Rogan josh, a medium-hot curry with lamb in a tomato base.
• Uttar Pradesh – Awadhi curries hail from Uttar Pradesh and are distinct for their use of expensive spices like saffron, as well as for several distinct dishes such as malai kofta – curried vegetable balls – or samosas – fried pastries filled with spiced potatoes, onions, peas and lentils.
• Delhi and Punjab– in Delhi, the curries often feature meatballs, korma sauce and paneer. Punjabi curries are similar to those found in Delhi and make generous use of masala spice blends as well as cream.
• Rajasthan – Curries are a main staple of Rajasthani cuisine and often contain paneer or yogurt sauces. One famous Rajasthani curry is the kadhi, which features vegetable balls known as pakoras in a yogurt-based curry sauce.

Some of the typical northern Indian dishes include:-

Kashmiri chicken curry, Tandoori chicken, Karahi chicken with mint, Karahi chicken with fresh fenugreek, Chicken makhani, Chicken tikka masala, Chicken tikka, Chicken saag, Chicken in a green masala sauce, Spicy grilled chicken, Chicken in a cashew nut sauce, Chicken dopiaza, Chicken korma, Raan – mughlai style leg of lamb, Shammi kabab, Rogan josh, Minced lamb with peas, Lamb with apricots, Lamb kofta curry, Chilli garlic prawns, Corn in a rich onion sauce, Paneer with peas, Paneer butter masala, Dry spiced potatoes with cauliflower, Karahi potatoes with whole spices, Mushroom curry, Courgettes in a spicy tomato sauce, Cumin scented vegetables, Roasted aubergines with spring onions, Kidney bean curry, Creamy black lentils, Tandoori naan, Tandoori roti, Stuffed paratha, Kulcha, Biryani, Pulao

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Recipe – Tandoori chicken

In a large mixing bowl add
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 dsp garlic paste
1 dsp ginger paste
1 tsp green chilli paste
3 tsp tandoori powder
2 tsp coriander and cumin powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
1/6 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
Stir and mix well then add
1 skinless medium chicken jointed into 8 pieces, with a little slit on each piece for the marinade to penetrate into
Leave to marinade over night or for as long as you can
Cover baking tray with kitchen foil and spread chicken pieces all over
Cook in the oven for 30/35 minutes at gas mark 200 turning pieces over after 15 minutes

Southern Indian cuisine –

South India (Karnataka, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Kerala) has a hot, humid climate and all its states are coastally situated. The region is lush and green with a maze of small rivers, rainfall is abundant and so is the supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and rice.The population is predominantly Hindus, and the Brahmins (priests) in the area who were the monitors of the Hindu faith and its temples, taught non violence, and also advocated not eating meat. They declared the cow a scared animal, which their followers were prohibited to eat. The staple foods in the south of India are therefore vegetable, fish, shellfish, dhals and rice in one form or another (boiled rice, Idlis, dosas, uttapams). Coconut oil is generally used as the cooking medium, vegetable oils like sunflower are also used and ghee is poured over rice in daily meals or in special occasion dishes. Southern cuisine differs greatly from other regions, its curries contrast differently in their textures and can typically be categorized according to the drier consistency, or those favoring a soupier or stew-like presentation. The curries from this part of India are mostly lightly spiced and refreshing, with coconut and coconut milk being used in many of the local recipes. They are also fiery with much use being made of the chillies that are grown throughout the region. They are also flavoured with curry leaves, mustard, pepper and peppercorns, asafoetida, tamarind, and fenugreek seeds.

• Andhra – In Andhra cuisine, curries are very spicy and feature abundant chili powder. Most Andhra dishes are vegetarian yet it has a huge range of seafood due to its coastal location. One unique food item found in Andhra is the gongura leaf, a sour leaf from a stalk-like plant that is served in curries or pickled.
• Karnataka and Hyderabad – In Karnataka, curries are much milder than in most of South India and are largely vegetarian. Lentils are used often. The masala dosa – a popular crepe filled with potatoes curried in a masala spice blend – is said to originate from a region of Karnataka. Hyderabad is home of the Nizams (rulers of Hyderabad) and regal Nizami food rich and flavorful with tastes ranging from spicy to sour to sweet. Hyderabadi food is full of nuts, dried fruits and exotic expensive spices like Saffron.
• Kerala – From Kerala hails Malabari cooking, with its repertoire of tasty seafood dishes, which is one of the most diverse of South Indian cuisines. Kerali curries usually feature heavy use of coconut oil, coconut milk or grated coconut, which combats the spiciness to create medium-hot dishes.
• Tamil Nadu – Tamil curries are usually very spicy with Chettinad cuisine perhaps the most fiery of all Indian food, and are largely vegetarian. They are often served on banana leaves. The word “curry” is derived from the Tamil word for sauce – “kari.”

Some of the typical southern Indian dishes include:-

Mughlai style chicken, Chicken madras, Madras beef curry, Chilli meat with curry leaves, Lamb korma, Marinated fried fish, Cauliflower in coconut sauce, Mixed vegetables in coconut sauce, Potatoes in chilli tamarind sauce, Masala beans with fenugreek, Chilli and mustard flavoured pineapple, Poriyal (dry curry consisting of a variety of vegetables and spices), Sambar (lentils and vegetables seasoned with tamarind and garlic infused oil), Rasam (a hot sour lentil tomato and tamarind soup dish), Kootus (similar to curries found in other regions, but, rather than being creamy like the dairy-based curries of the North, kootus get their consistency from boiled lentils), Idlis & Vadas (steamed or fried delicacies similar to savory doughnuts that are served as accompaniments to sambars and rasams), Dosa (large crepe-like rice pancake that is usually filled with vegetables chutneys or masala curries), Uttapams (similar to dosas, but are thicker with the filling sprinkled on top like a pizza), Payasam, Stuffed bananas, Spiced lentils with spinach.

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Recipe – Chicken madras

In a large size cooking pot add
6 tbsp rapeseed oil, medium heat, medium burner
1 tsp ground fenugreek seeds
2 tsp ground fennel seeds
2 bay leaves and/or 10 curry leaves
2 medium onions blitzed coarsely in a food processor
– fry until onions are golden brown then add
1 dsp garlic paste
1 dsp ginger paste
1 tsp green chilli paste
– fry for half a minute then add
500g skinless chicken breast or thighs one inch pieces
2 tsp coriander and cumin powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
1/5 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
– stir and seal chicken for 2 minutes the add
3 tbsp concentrated tomato puree mixed with 400ml water
– cook for 30 minutes medium heat, with lid on stirring occasionally then add
½ tsp garam masala
juice of half a lemon
5 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
– cook for further 3 minutes low heat, then switch off heat

Eastern Indian cuisine –

Eastern India which encompasses the states of (Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, and Assam) has fertile plains, and is surrounded by rivers and seas. The coastal area is lined with coconut palms and the fields covered with mustard and tea plantations. Fish from the Bay of Bengal which is both plentiful and inexpensive is eaten throughout eastern India and is an important part of the local diet, and in areas close to the sea fish is eaten daily in place of meat. Other local produce such as coconut, vegetables, lentils, and rice are also used frequently. Mustard oil is used as the principal cooking medium, which gives a pungent but slightly sweet flavour. Foods are spiced with mustard, cumin, anise and fenugreek seeds. In general, Eastern Indian cuisine is subtle in its use of spices. Curries in Eastern India often come in the form of fried curry (bhaja curry) or curry cooked to a paste (bata curry). Other curries may be mild (chochchoree curry) or they may be spicy with a thin sauce (jhol curry). The easterners are also known for their delicious savouries and desserts. The cuisine of Northeast India is distinct from other regions of India. Northeast Indian cuisine is largely influenced by Burma, Tibet and Nepal. Popular meats include fish, shrimp, yak, chicken, pork, duck, pigeon, frog and even turtle. In some areas, beef is also eaten. Although common Indian spices like turmeric, fenugreek and cardamom are used, they are used less often and in moderation. The dishes in Northeast India tend to be savory rather than spicy, relying heavily on onions for extra flavor.

• Bihar – Bihari cuisine features heavily spiced, calorie-rich foods. They use a variety of lentils, beans and chickpeas in their cooking.
• Bengal and Orissa – In both Bengal and Orissa, panch puran, a blend of cumin, fennel, fenugreek, mustard seed and nigella seed, is in heavy use for flavoring vegetable curries, while garam masala and turmeric are often used to flavor meat or fish curries. However, Bengali and Oriya cuisines differ in that curries in Oriya tend to be less spicy and more subtle in flavor.
• Assam – Assam curries rely on fresh vegetables and exotic herbs for their flavors. One popular curry in Assam is the tenga curry. It features lentils and fish, which may be fried in mustard oil or pickled with gourds. The tenga is made sour with the use of lemon.

Some of the typical eastern Indian dishes include:-

Chicken jhalfrazi, Cumin scented chicken, Chicken in coconut milk, Fish jhalfrazi, Fish stew, Fish in a rich tomato and onion sauce, Prawn curry, King prawn korma, Masala channa, Mixed vegetable curry, Crisp fried aubergine, Sweet and sour pineapple, Potatoes with roasted poppy seeds, Spinach with golden potatoes, Chana dhal and bottle gourd curry, Tarka dhal.

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Recipe – Chicken Jhalfrazi

In a large size cooking pot add
7 tbsp rapeseed oil, medium heat, medium burner
6 whole black pepper corns
3 cloves
4 one inch cinnamon sticks
2 medium onions blitzed coarsely in a food processor
– fry until onions are golden brown then add
1 dsp garlic paste
1 dsp ginger paste
1 tsp green chilli paste
– fry for half a minute then add
300g tin tomatoes blitzed finely in a food processor
2 tsp coriander and cumin powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
1/5 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
– bring to the boil until oil splits from the tomatoes then add
500g skinless chicken breast or thigh pieces
50ml water
– cook for 20 minutes medium heat, with lid on then add
1 green and 1 red pepper quartered and then cut into thin strips
2 whole green chillies slit length ways
– cook for further 12 minutes medium heat, with lid on then add
½ tsp garam masala
juice of half a lemon
5 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
– cook for further 3 minutes low heat, than switch off heat

Western Indian cuisine –

Western India includes the states of (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, and Konkan), which are all strikingly different. To the north lies Gujarat with its flat, fertile plains. Bombay now called Mumbai the cosmopolitan capital of Maharastra is where all the contrasts can be experienced. The Deccan plateau is in the heart of Maharashtra and well known for its cotton and barley fields, and sugar plantations. To the south Goa and the Konkan regions which are lush green and tropical. The cuisine in the western region is highly diverse, and Maharashtra’s coastal location is responsible for its fish and seafood and coconut milk dominant cuisine. Interior regions rely heavily on grains and cereals for their proteins and nutrition. The state of Gujarat has developed an excellent repertoire of vegetarian dishes, using fresh vegetables, dairy products and lentils and peas. The region is also well known for its chutneys, which are popular Indian condiments that use cooked, fresh, or pickled vegetables and fruits with sweet, sour, or spicy flavors. Goa acted as a major trade port and colony for Portugal, resulting in a distinctive and unique blend of Indian and Portuguese culinary elements. Goan cuisine uses pork and beef with greater frequency than other regional cuisines in India, fish is also a staple. Goan cuisine usually tends to be hot and spicy and uses a lot of coconut milk, coconut paste, vinegar, and tamarind juice. Dishes are cooked very slowly for a long time, which gives them a wonderfully rich flavour.

• Gujarat – In Gujarat, sugar and salt are used more heavily than in other parts of India, producing a cuisine that is simultaneously spicy, salty and sweet. The region is primarily vegetarian, and there are a variety of local “shaak” dishes – vegetable dishes. These include potato curry, eggplant curry, and okra curry, to name a few. These dishes are usually served with dhal, a type of Indian lentil soup.
• Maharashtri – In Maharashtrian cuisine, fiery seafood and mutton curries prevail, but milder curries are also popular. Curries are often served with a raw Indian salad called a “cachumber” or a “raita” – yogurt cucumber sauce.
• Goan – Goan curries usually contain a masala spice blend, often consisting of chilies, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and coriander. Goan food often centers on meat and seafood dishes. They are notorious for being spicy. Goa is home of the vindaloo, a spicy Indian pork curry featuring garlic, black pepper, vinegar and chilies.
• Konkan – Along much of the west coast of India sits the Konkan region. Many aspects of the culture and food are very similar to Goan. Here, curries often have a coconut base and make use of tamarind and curry leaves, and are mostly pesco-vegetarian (excluding all meat except for fish.)

Some of the typical western Indian dishes include:-

Goan chicken curry, Chicken with green mango, Beef vindaloo, Pork balchao, Goan prawn curry, Parsi prawn curry, Fish cakes, Spicy omelette, Eggs baked in potato sticks, Samosas, Stuffed okra, Okra in yogurt, Bombay potatoes, Chickpeas with spiced potato cakes, Potatoes in a yogurt sauce, Stuffed vegetables.

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Recipe – Pork Vindaloo

In a large mixing bowl add
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp coriander and cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/5 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
Stir and mix well then add
500g pork loin diced into 1 inch pieces
Leave to marinade over night or for as long as can

In a pressure cooker add
4 tbsp rapeseed oil, full heat, small burner
6 whole black pepper corns
2 tsp of crushed mustard seeds
2 dried red chillies halved
2 medium onions diced finely
– fry until onions just start to brown then add
1 dsp garlic paste
1 dsp ginger paste
1 tsp green chilli paste
– fry for half a minute then add
500g pork and marinade
– seal meat for 5 minutes then add
2 tbsp vinegar
150ml water
2 whole green chillies slit length ways
– cook for 20 minutes on high weight
– leave to rest for 10 minutes before opening lid

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The basic healthy diet and star foods

Food and water provide the fuel mix of vital nutrients that enable the body to function. Fighting off harmful bacteria, balancing the fluid levels, and many other processes all need chemicals from food to work efficiently.

With the increased focus in the media of illnesses related to a poor diet, there is now widespread agreement on healthy eating and the message is fairly straight forward: eat less fat, especially saturated fat, less sugar, less salt and more fibre. This means eating more vegetable, fruit, complex carbohydrate food such as rice, bread and pasta (preferably unrefined or wholegrain varieties), more fish, leaner meats, and poultry without skin.

Some foods have more to offer than other, these are nowadays referred to as super foods (avocado, beetroot, blueberry, brazil nut, cabbage, carrot, curly kale, garlic, grapefruit, lemon, nettle, oily fish, olive, shitake mushroom, tempeh), but any food can fit into a healthy style of eating at least occasionally. It is the combinations and quantities you choose which are important to help protect your well being. Eating well means enjoying your food and having plenty of variety and balance, so that you get all the nutrients you need. This is something that a healthy low fat Indian diet offers, as many of the recommended healthy foods are present in Indian cookery, and that is what we teach at the Indian spice school.

There are 5 main basic food groups that make up the basic healthy diet, and the normal recommended percentages of what you should eat from each food groups is around:-

1 – Fruit and vegetables 35%
2 – Starchy foods 35%
3 – Meat fish and protein alternatives 12%
4 – Dairy foods 12%
5 – Sugary and high fat foods 6%

The elements found in the above foods fall into four main groups of macronutrients, which are needed in large amounts to provide energy and include carbohydrates, fats and proteins, micronutrients, and water.

This post will covers a few star food types in detail from each of the food groups, which are most present in the Indian diet, and which have special properties that may be valuable in protecting health. Other star food types and not so good food, from each of the food groups are also listed as a guide for what to eat and not to eat.

1 – Fruit and vegetables

Coconut – contains natural sugar and is an excellent protein based, between-meal snack. It has slight diuretic and laxative properties. The milk can be used to treat stomach ulcers and gastritis.

Mango – contains a host of vitamins and minerals and natural sugar. Mango has an astringent effect on the gut which means that it promotes contractions and enhances digestive processes. It aids the digestive system and conditions like colitis, diarrhoea, and ulcerative colitis.

Pineapple – a delicious food that we should enjoy more often, it contains powerful bromelain enzymes, they can help healing, reduce inflammation from many causes. They also help digestion, discourage dangerous blood clots, and may also help angina.

Onion – can do so much good for our health. Some of the health benefits of onions are linked to their volatile smell, which is released when fresh onions are cut. They can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, have a natural antibiotic action, relieves congestion in the airways, can help bronchial congestion, and aids cancer resistance.

Tomato – central to the Indian diet, and now recognised as one of the healthiest in the world, and are one of the most versatile food ingredients. Tomatoes contain substantial levels of antioxidants, notably vitamin E. They can lower the levels of several forms of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke and cataracts. They contain other protective substances in the form of quercetin and lycopene.

Spinach – has the well known fame of being an iron rich food. It may also reduce the risk of cancer, is rich in antioxidants, may protect against eye degeneration, is rich in folate and can therefore lesson the chance of spina bifida, useful source of iron and can help avoid and relieve anaemia, and very rich in potassium so can help regulate high blood pressure.

Other star foods in this group – date, fig, banana, guava, lychee, papaya, apricot, grape, raisin, peach, plum, prune, melons (all types), berries (all types), olive, orange, mandarin and tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, apple, banana, pear, and pomegranate.
Parsnip, turnip, potato, shallots, beetroot, radish, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, lettuce, cabbage, gourd, okra, corn, cucumber, peppers, courgette, salad leaves, avocado, pumpkin, aubergine, and mushrooms.

2 – Starchy foods

Rice – is a staple food for Indians and also half the world. It is a valuable starchy food to eat especially brown rice. With many varieties and recipes available, rice is something delicious to eat. It is a key starchy food and can helps prevent chronic western diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain cancers. It may also reduce the risk of bowel disorders, steadies blood sugar levels, supplies vitamin B1 (thiamin), and is gluten free and unlikely to cause allergy.

Sweet potato – like carrots orange fleshed sweet potatoes are both sweet and savoury, and contain far more vitamins than ordinary potatoes. They combine valuable antioxidants and minerals, and are the only low fat food with a high vitamin E level, rivalling rich sources such as nuts and seeds. They also contribute to heart health, can help regulate high blood pressure, and can also help anaemia.

Other star foods in this group – bread, cereals and grains (includes corn, oats, maize, wheat), pasta, and potatoes.

3 – Meat fish and protein alternatives

Beans and lentils – or pulses have become neglected in the age of convenience foods, however still popular in the Indian diet. They are well worth eating especially in place of higher fat meat or cheese. High in fibre and protein and low in fat, pulses are a key ingredient of many Indian dishes that taste too good to be abandoned. They can lower blood cholesterol levels and hence reduce the risk of heart disease, and are rich in soluble fibres so can steady blood sugar levels, contain substantial levels of iron and folate which can help prevent or combat anaemia, and high in potassium and folate so can help avoid and regulate high blood pressure.

Almonds – and other nuts are avoided by many people as a result of their high calorie count. But when you get as much from them as almonds provide, they should be eaten more often. They can help reduce blood cholesterol levels, and are a rich source of vitamin E so can help reduce the risk of heart disease, and are also a useful source of calcium.

Other star foods in this group – poultry and game, red meat, fish, shellfish, egg, soya, hazelnut, chestnut, peanut, walnut, cashew, and seeds.

4 – Dairy foods

Yogurt – is one of the most versatile foods, and has a long established reputation as an aid to good health. While all yogurt has a high nutritional value, only yogurt that contains live bacterial cultures has extra therapeutic benefits. These help protect against some harmful bacteria to avoid gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections. They aid recovery from diarrhoea, and help counter the side effects of antibiotics by restoring the levels of gut microflora, and can also stimulates the immune defences.

Other foods in this group – milk, cheese, paneer, butter, spreads, cream.

5 – Sugary and high fat foods

Oil – Some fat is necessary to enjoy a wide choice of food, as most foods contain some fat. Fat is the only source of essential and other important fatty acids. Most vitamin E is in fatty foods and fat is needed to absorb several different vitamins.
Indians cook with a variety of oils. Groundnut oil or sunflower oil is the most commonly used for a curry and deep frying.
Coconut oil with its strong aroma is used more in the south, while dark yellow mustard oil is used extensively in the east (Bengal) in fish dishes. Ghee is clarified butter and many Indian recipes use ghee as the cooking fat. It can be heated to a very high temperature without burning and does not require refrigeration. In most cases oil can be substituted for ghee, and increasingly more Indians are using the lighter vegetable oils as a healthier alternative. I prefer rapeseed oil, as it can be heated to a high temperature for a long time, thereby the food absorbs less oil, it is also high in mono saturated fats, and high in unsaturated fats.

Other foods in this group – fried foods, fizzy drinks, crisps, sweets, chocolate, cakes, buns, biscuits, and pastry

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Medicinal properties of spices

It is well known that a good healthy diet can prevent certain types of illness. What is less well known is that specific foods and spices, as a result of the combined exceptional nutritional value with the bonus of special properties, can not only prevent specific medical conditions but in many cases can heal them or alleviate their symptoms. In this post i am going to cover the top 15 most commonly used herbs, spices and seeds in Indian cooking and their healing properties.

Anise – Aniseed the seeds of the anise plant and star anise the fruit have the same properties. They both contain a potent essential oil that is strongly antispasmodic and acts as a stimulant to the heart, respiratory and digestive systems. (distention and wind, dyspepsia, flatulence, nausea and vomiting) Anise is slightly diuretic and helps promote bile flow and digestion. Other benefits include migraine pains.

Asafoetida – has a very overpowering, almost unpleasant smell, which is calmed when it is fried in oil. It is often added to dhals to alleviate wind. It is made from a dried gum resin which is taken from the roots of a perennial plant native to Kashmir. The dried resin is ground to a yellowish powder which is used in small quantities in cooking in many lentil and vegetable dishes.

Cardamom – seeds are strongly aromatic and are widely used in Indian cooking to flavour curries, sweets and desserts. It is an essential ingredient in garam masala. Cardamom is the dried fruit of a plant native to India. It takes the form of a pod containing brown seeds, which can be ground to a fine powder or used whole. You can also use cracked whole pods in cooking. There are several varieties, brown and pale green which have a much finer flavour. They stimulate the appetite and aid digestion, and prevent heartburn and diarrhoea. They contain an essential oil that is an effective breath freshener.

Chilli – come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, flavours and degrees of hotness. The colour of a chilli green, yellow, red, or purple indicates the stage of maturity. The most commonly used in Indian cooking, are the small dried red chillies they can be used whole, crushed, flaked or in powered form, and fresh thin long green ones. They need not dominate food and can be used subtly, to deepen flavour. Chillies are a good source of vitamin c, and also contain capsaicin in the essential oil which is thought to be good for the heart and circulation and prevention of blood clots. Chillies are recommended for digestive problems. (Diarrhoea, dyspepsia, flatulence) They are also good for the immune system, clears airways in coughs and colds. They may relieve pain for some people and also temporarily raises calories burning rate. Excessive consumption of chillies may cause chronic inflammation of the stomach and intestines

Cinnamon – the spice used in cooking is the dried inner bark of the cinnamon tree, an evergreen native to Sri Lanka. It is one of the most important and earliest known spices and is an essential ingredient in garam masala. It is used in its stick form as well as a ground spice and its warm, sweet aroma enhances rice dishes, as well as meat dishes and desserts. It is a bactericide that improves the function of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. It is also antispasmodic and stimulates digestion. It is also used to promote vitality, warm the body, improve the immune system and thus treat colds and influenza.

Cloves – are the small dried buds of the clove tree, which have a sweet aroma but a bitter taste. They are used to flavour rice and savoury dishes and are also used in spice mixtures, including garam masala. The essential oil form coves acts as a powerful antiseptic. They are good for intestinal infections, and travellers chew them in order to prevent both intestinal infections and hepatitis. They also have a slight anaesthetic action. Clove oil is used externally to treat infected wounds, dental pain and mouth ulcers. They are also good for the immune system and help prevent colds and influenza.

Coriander – the pungent, slightly sweet, citrus flavour of coriander seeds is used in vegetable, meat, fish and poultry dishes. The seeds come from a leafy herb bearing lacy flowers. These seeds are dried and used extensively, whole or ground, as an aromatic spice in Indian cooking. The flavour of the ground spice is not as intense as that of the whole. It is also an aromatic herb that lifts a dish both visually and in flavour, the leaves and stalks can both be used in Indian dishes. The seeds contain a greater concentration of active ingredients than the leaves and can be made into medicinal drinks.
Coriander has antibiotic properties and helps to treat a range of digestive problems. (Abdominal pain, dyspepsia, flatulence, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome) The herb is also a good source of vitamin b and folic acid.

Cumin – the distinctive aroma of cumin seeds is used to flavour rice and curries. Cumin seeds are the fruits of a small annual herb, which grows throughout India. They are used dried and range in colour from light greenish brown to dark brown. Another variety of cumin is black cumin which is less aromatic and not as bitter in flavour. Cumin seeds can be fried in hot oil to intensify their flavour or dry roasted and then ground with other spices. They are rich in an essential oil that has sedative and carminative properties. They can help to treat poor digestion and also flatulence.

Fennel Seed – Dried fennel seeds are used throughout India not only to add a sweet, aniseed flavour to a variety of dishes, but also as a mouth freshener. They are similar in appearance to cumin seeds though greener in colour. Fennel seeds are gently tonic and diuretic. The main medicinal use of fennel seeds is for digestive problems, such as poor appetite and digestion, bloating, nausea, vomiting, flatulence and abdominal pain. They are also thought to relieve wheezing, catarrh, asthma and gout. The seeds also promote urination and the elimination of uric acid.

Garlic – is a hardy bulbous member of the liliacaea family, which also includes onions, shallots, leeks, chives and spring onions. The bulb consists of a number of cloves encased in a thin papery covering. It has an unmistakeable aroma and is eaten throughout India except by some Kashmiri Hindus and the Jain sect. In Indian cooking it is most commonly used as a pulp and fried with ginger and onion in oil as a base in many recipes, particularly meat dishes. Garlic has a long reputation as a health giving food used both to prevent and cure illness. The principal active ingredients in garlic are a volatile oil called allicin released when the cloves are crushed. Allicin is a powerful anti-coagulant and it inhibits blood clotting and helps to break down existing clots, allowing the blood to flow more freely thus reducing blood pressure. It also helps to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. Allicin has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties, and raw garlic is effective in relieving the symptoms of colds and respiratory infections, such as nasal congestion. It is also useful in combating digestive system infections and controlling the balance of bacteria in the gut.

Ginger – is the underground stem or rhizome of an herbaceous plant grown throughout Asia. It is one of the most widely used spices in Indian cooking. In its fresh state it is most often used as a pulp, the outer skin is removed and the fibrous flesh is either finely chopped or pulped and used to impart a pungent fresh aroma and distinct flavour to a variety of dishes. Dried ginger is also available as a ground spice which can be used to flavour drinks as well as savoury and sweet dishes. It has been prescribed for many ailments. It stimulates the appetite, has antiseptic and tonic properties and alleviates nausea, travel sickness, vomiting and particularly morning sickness. Combined in a broth with spring onions, garlic and cloves, it promotes sweating and eases cold symptoms. Ginger can be used as massage oil for rheumatism or to improve blood circulation in muscles. Ginger is also good for the immune system and can help prevent sore throats, colds and influenza.

Mustard Seeds – The mustard plant is an annual which bears bright yellow flowers. The seeds of the plant when dried are the spice. There are three types of mustard seeds, of which the brown and black are the most widely used in India. They are round in shape and sharp tasting. Mustard seeds are used to flavour a variety of dishes. Whole black mustard seeds are often thrown in hot oil or popped at the beginning of a recipe this gives them a sweet, nutty taste that enhances vegetable, pulses, fish dishes, and relishes. The white mustard seed is used as a condiment and the black seed is commonly used by herbalists. Mustard causes a sensation of heat in the stomach and stimulates the digestion, and also helps constipation.

Nutmeg – Nutmeg and mace come from the same tree, mace being the lacy outer covering of the nutmeg kernel. Nutmeg has a warm, sweet flavour and is used in small quantities in desserts, often grated from a whole nutmeg. It is also used in some garam masala mixes. Mace is similar in flavour but is not as sweet and is more often used as a ground spice. Nutmeg contains a potent essential oil that is poisonous in large doses, but beneficial in small amounts. It is a good general antiseptic for the digestive system, has analgesic properties and stimulates the brain and nervous system. Nutmeg is recommended for dab breath, poor digestive ailments. The diluted essential oil can be applied to the skin for rheumatism, bronchitis and neuralgia.

Peppercorns – Pepper is the most commonly used spice and is sometimes known as the king of spices. It is the fruit of a perennial vine which bears berries or peppercorns. The black, white, red, and green varieties all come from the same plant, the difference in colour occurs in the way they are processed. Black pepper is made by drying green peppercorns in the sun while white pepper is made when ripe berries are softened in water, hulled and then dried. Peppercorns contain a complex essential oil called piperin.
They are good for digestive problems like diarrhoea and dyspepsia and circulatory problems such as chilblains. They stimulate the heart and peripheral circulation, although excessive consumption of pepper may aggravate any inflammation of the stomach and intestines. They are also good for the immune system for colds and sore throat.

Turmeric – is the root or rhizome of a herbaceous perennial plant related to the ginger family. This bright yellow bitter tasting spice is sold ground, although the small roots are also available fresh or dried. Like ginger it needs to be peeled and ground before using. Although used mainly for colour, this spice imparts a subtle flavour, and should generally be used sparingly. Turmeric aids immunity by enhancing the health of the liver. It also mops up free radicals and so helps fight degenerative diseases. It contains a host of minerals and vitamins and is also used extensively for antibacterial, anti inflammatory, antiseptic, and antioxidant purposes.

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Diwali the festival of lights

Diwali is an ancient festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains all over the world. The festival gets its name from the Sanskit word Deepavali, which translates to ‘row of lights,’ referring to the small earthenware lamps (divas) that those celebrating the festival, light as a symbol of the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness.

The origins of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was most likely to have been an important harvest festival, marking the last harvest of the year before the winter months. Nowadays there may be many different interpretations of the origins depending on the faith and culture of those celebrating. However the common links are it represents the universal message of good over evil, of truth over falsehood and of light shining in the dark of the year.

It is traditionally a time for exchanging gifts, friendship, peace, and goodwill to all. Diwali is celebrated with family gatherings which can include activities such as giving gifts, lighting fireworks, sharing food (normally vegetarian) and sweets and religious worship. At this festive time of year, homes, businesses and public places are decorated, often with flowers and rangoli patterns, and small oil lamps are placed in windows, doors and outside buildings as a reminder of the spiritual significance of the festival, the search for inner light.

For Hindus Diwali represents the start of the New Year. It honours the victory of good over evil, and brightness over darkness. It also marks the start of winter. Diwali is most commonly associated with the story of Rama and his wife Sita and their return from exile to their kingdom of Ayodhya, following Rama and Hanumans victory over the demon king Ravana of Sri Lanka, and rescue of Sita from his evil clutches. To help guide Rama and Sita home, people lit oil lamps so they could find their way in the night. Diwali is celebrated on Amavasa, the 15th day of the dark fortnight (new moon) of the Hindu month Kartika. Kartika falls at the end of October to the start of November.

Hindus traditionally celebrate Diwali over 5 days, and each day has a different meaning.

Day 1 – Lakshmi pooja: homes are cleansed and decorated with lamps, mango leaves and marigold on the first day of celebration to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi who provides prosperity. Gifts are given in the family.
Day 2 – Naraka Chatrudashi: on this day, there is focus on abolishing evil and the Goddess Kali is worshipped.
Day 3 – Diwali Day: this is the end of the Hindu year and is celebrated by lighting lamps in the home and firework displays.
Day 4 – Nutan Varsh: this day is the start of the Hindu New Year.
Day 5 – Bhai bij or the Teeka Ceremony: this day is important to Hindus as it celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters.

People seek blessings at Diwali from Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, and Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles.

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Indian vegetarian class and recipes

Almost half of the Hindu population in India and the rest of the world are vegetarians, and the families that do eat meat, may only do so once or twice a week. This is due to the fact that Indians really love vegetables, and they provide all the ingredients necessary for a healthy balanced diet.

I have therefore decided to first write about our half day vegetarian foundation course (insight into vegetarian food).

This is a indian vegetarian class that I had with a student of mine called Allison, who is a vegetarian and has been attending our school once a month for almost a year.

The menu was:-

Main dish – Vegetable kheema muttar (minced soya and peas curry)
Side dish – Aloo gobi (cauliflower and potato fry)
Staple – Tomato and mushroom fried rice
Accompaniment – Onion, pepper, coriander, and chilli riata

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Recipes

Vegetable kheema muttar

In a large size cooking pot add
7 tbsp rapeseed oil, medium heat, medium burner
6 whole black pepper corns
4 one inch cinnamon sticks
2 whole dried red chillies halved
2 medium onions blitzed coarsely in a food processor
– fry until onions are golden brown then add
1 dsp garlic paste
1 dsp ginger paste
1 tsp green chilli paste
– fry for half a minute then add
400g 1tin of tomatoes blitzed finely in a food processor
2 tsp coriander and cumin powder
½ tsp red chilli powder
1/6 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
– bring to the boil until oil splits from the tomatoes then add
150g dried soya mince (pre wash soya with enough water that covers the soya and then drain water)
– cook for 10 minutes medium heat, with lid on then add
– ½ cup of frozen garden peas washed
– cook for further 8 minutes medium heat, with lid on then add
– ½ tsp garam masala
– juice of half a lemon
– 5 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
– switch off heat after 20 minutes

Aloo gobi

In a medium size cooking pot add
5 tbsp rapeseed oil, full heat, small burner
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
– fry for a minute until seed start to colour and pop, then add
1 tsp green chilli paste
– fry for half a minute then add
400g cauliflower diced into small size florets
2 medium size potatoes diced into small pieces
25 ml water
¾ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt
– stir all the ingredients gently then
– cook for 10 minutes full heat, with lid on then stir gently
– cook for further 5 minutes medium heat, with lid off, until cooked to taste
– switch off heat after 15 minutes

Tomato and mushroom fried rice

In a pressure cooker add
2 tbsp rapeseed oil, full heat, small burner
1 tsp ghee
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
4 one inch cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
– fry until onion soften, then add
200g chestnut mushrooms diced into medium strips
– fry for a couple of minutes then add
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp green chilli paste
– fry for half a minute then add
1 cup basmati rice (washed so all the starch removed)
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 medium tomato diced into 12 pieces
– bring to boil then stir gently
– cook for 12 minutes full heat, with lid on, low setting
– switch off heat after 12 minutes, and leave to rest for further 8 minutes, before opening the lid

Onion, pepper, coriander, and chilli riata

In a medium size mixing bowl add
½ red onion, finely chopped
¼ yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
250g natural low fat yogurt
2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp ground black pepper
– mix well, and serve chilled

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Indian classic dishes

In order to master the fundamentals of Indian cooking, you need to know not only how to use and blend Indian spices, but also as with any other cuisine how to prepare all the classic Indian dishes.

Theses would include the following:-

Meat Dishes
Balti, Bhuna, Biryani, Dhansak, Dopiaza, Haleem, Jhalfrazi, Kabab, Karahi, Kheema, Kofta, Korma, Madras, Makhani, Mogul Masala, Molee, Pasanda, Patia, Raan, Rogan Josh, Saag, Tandoori, Tikka, Tikka Masala, Vindaloo.

Vegetable Dishes
Aloo gobi, Bharta, Bombay potato, Chana dhal, Channa Masala, Muttar Paneer, Rajma, Saag Aloo, Sambhar, Samosa, Tarka dhal.

Staples and Accompaniments
Cachumber, Chapati, Naan, Pickle, Pulao, Raita.

The majority of the so called Indian restaurants and takeaways in the United Kingdom have all got a similar menu which has not changed much for years, which includes most of the above dishes. Unfortunately in my opinion a lot of the chefs from these establishments have little understanding of the origins and history of these dishes, nor what they should really look and taste like.

I personally have taken a lot of time to research these dishes over the years, and as a result can produce what I feel is a true reflection of the dishes. You will have to attend one of our courses to judge for yourself.

The Indian classic dishes form just a small part of Indian cuisine. The huge repertoire of dishes which make up Indian cuisine would also include Indian regional dishes, street food and snacks, traditional home cooked food, vegetarian food, dinner party food, BBQ food, and also fusion dishes.

Please refer to the full list of structured courses on our website for further details.

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Planning a curry meal

The eating habits of Indians vary enormously depending on religion and region, but one thing that we all have in common is our love for vegetables. It is almost taken for granted that you are vegetarian, but even when you do eat meat you will almost certainly have at least one or two vegetable dishes with it.

Vegetables are not really eaten as an accompaniment in the same way as they are in the west. A traditional Indian meal will always have vegetable dishes that use a range of different ingredients, which would complement the other dishes and hence provide a healthy balanced meal.

When planning your menu, always bear in mind that a typical Indian daily meal will normally only feature three items, the main dish, a side dish, and a staple, which would be rice or bread, however some families would have both. Chutneys, salads, raitas, and pappadums would also be eaten for taste, to cool the palate, and also to help balance the meal.

So a meat dish would always be accompanied by a vegetable dish, or if you were a pure vegetarian there would be two vegetable dishes, with rice, breads and the accompaniments. Dishes with a drier consistency are normally accompanied by a curry or a lentil dish. Deciding what dish to serve as the main is important, as this ensures that the flavours of the dishes complement rather then compete with each other. Generally a lightly spiced side dish is more enjoyable when the main dish is spicier.

An Indian meal would not be served as separate courses, as all the dishes complement each other, they would be brought out to the table at the same time, and diners would help themselves to any of the dishes in any order.

When entertaining and on special occasions, a traditional family three dish menu with accompaniments, can be transformed into a lavish dinner party meal by adding other dishes, like a starter and a dessert.

An Indian meal will usually ends with fresh fruit, rather than elaborate or cooked desserts, as a result of the abundance of delicious fresh fruit grown in India. However Indians are famous for having an incredibly sweet tooth and have devised all manner of sweets and desserts, often milk and yogurt based, along with nuts, dried fruits, saffron, coconut and sugar. Desserts are not really made or served every day, but are reserved for special occasions such as religious festivals or weddings.

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Factors that have shaped Indian cuisine

What is Indian cuisine?

It is a wonderful diverse range of food, with very clear regional differences, which thus makes Indian cuisine a multidimensional colourful cuisine, full of richness and depth, and with a repertoire of recipes that is virtually unmatched anywhere else in the world. Indian cuisine is a reflection of the heritage of the people of its land, and the influences of historical and cultural developments and religious beliefs.

The 5 major factors that I think have shaped Indian cuisine are:-

1. Indian’s geography
India has long been known as the spice bowl of the world, and other countries in south- east Asia (Malaysia and Thailand) also occupy an important place in the history of the spice trade. The use of premium quality spices like black peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamoms, nutmeg, and saffron was a normal long established way of life, in these sun drenched and monsoon fed lands. It was the value of these exotic spices that lured traders and merchants, among them Arabs, English, Dutch, Portuguese, French, and Spanish to the area.

2. Foreign Influences
The influences of many foreign settlers, traders, pilgrims and invaders over the years have given rise to new cooking styles, methods and ingredients in Indian cuisine, which are still in practise and used today.

The most important is probably the Moguls who invaded India in 1526. They brought their favourite dishes and cooking methods to the north Indian states, and the fusion of these with Indian staples and local foods led to the evolution of Mughlai cuisine. Meat was introduced and transformed into delicate kormas and fragrant biryanis. They also introduced the tandoor, a clay oven, originally from Egypt to India. This helped produce a variety of meat dishes and breads like spicy kebabs, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, and tandoori rotis. The Moguls also introduced a selection of exotic fruit and nuts to the established cooking traditions of Kashmir and Punjab.

The first Europeans to arrive in Indian were the Portuguese in 1498, they colonised three western costal areas, Goa being the most famous. They introduced ingredients such as chillies, peppers, tomatoes and cashew nuts. They have certainly left their mark on the cuisine of Goa, with a variety of fish and pork dishes. Vindaloo is Goa’s most famous export, but its origins are in fact Portuguese. In the 16th century, when the Portuguese traders embarked on their long voyage to India, they carried pork, preserved in vinegar, garlic and black pepper. The word vin comes from vinegar and aloo is derived from alho, the Portuguese word for garlic.

The British colonialists of the Raj arrived in India in 1599, initially for a share of the wealth from the trade in spice. By 1850 they established the East India Company in Calcutta (Kolkata), which became an important trading post for the British. The British left dishes in their wake, the most popular chicken jhalfrazi which originated in Calcutta, where Indian chefs during the British Raj used leftover cold meat, generally from the Sunday roast and stir fried it with spices. They also introduced cabbages and runner and broad beans into Indian cooking.

The Parsis arrived in India in the seventh century after fleeing religious persecution in Iran, and settled on the west coast in Gujarat and Bombay (Mumbai). They are a small community but have nonetheless contributed significantly to Indian culture. Parsee food tends to be hot, sweet and sour, and the lamb dhansak is a famous Parsee dish traditionally served on special occasions.

The French came to India in 1769, and by 1851 they set up a trading post in Pondicherry a costal town south of Madras (Chennai). They introduced a fusion of eastern and western ingredients and spices into the local style of cooking.

The Syrian Jews were the first traders to arrive in India almost 2500 years ago in 562BC. They settled in Cochin the capital of Kerala, and became known as the Cochin Jews. They brought with them their Middle Eastern style of cooking.

3. Landscape and climate
India is nearly 1.3million square miles in size, a vast subcontinent. It is a federal union of states, comprising of 28 states and 7 union territories, all with their own unique cooking traditions and tastes.

The landscape varies from city to city. The regionality of the cuisine is also affected by the vastly differing landscape which influences what can be grown. The north is mountainous flat and fertile, while the south is lush green and tropical.

The climate is also a factor, in the colder northern states warming, aromatically spiced dishes are eaten, which would include meat, wheat, chillies, and ghee. Whereas in the intense heat of southern India, the food is lighter and uses more vegetables, rice, coconut, and black pepper. Fish and rice is an important part of the diet in the East, while west Indian food tends to use fresh vegetables, dairy products and lentils and peas, and will be hot and spicy.

4. Religion and faiths
India has a population of nearly 1.2 billion. Within this population there are five major faiths, Hindus forming the majority of 80%, followed by 10% Muslims, the other 10% is made up of Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and other.

Half of the Hindu population of India are vegetarians, whilst the other religions are a mixture of meat eaters and vegetarians.

5. Religious beliefs
Ayurveda is the traditional system of healing practised in India. It is a Sanskrit word derived from two roots, ayu and vid, meaning ‘life’ and ‘knowledge’.

For centuries Indians have believed that food should be eaten not only for the taste but also to help cure emotional, physical and mental ailments.

Ayurveda is the science of diet, health and healing, it is a complete system, with a variety of different components, ayurvedic medicine is one and many Indian cooks have an instinct for what ingredients to add to a dish to help alleviate certain problems.

As food plays an important part in all our lives, this way of diet and healing has now become popular all over the world, because the chemical balance provided by what we eat aids healing and promotes good health and well being.

Ayurvedic healers believe there are six basic tastes – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent, and each of these tastes helps in healing specific problems.

Other components of ayurveda include astronomy, meditation, yoga, colour therapy, massage, aromatherapy, breathing exercises, and a lot more.

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Key to a successful curry

The key to a successful curry lies in the use of fresh herbs and spices and the correct cooking oil, and also in the skilful art of blending these ingredients, rather then any sophisticated cooking methods and techniques.

Traditionally recipes are passed down from one generation to another, however some of the world classic dishes, have evolved as a result of spice blends and flavour combinations that first started of as experiments.

The flavour of a dish will vary depending on the sequence in which the spices are added and the length of time each spice is cooked.

Generally whole spices like cloves, black peppercorns, cardamoms, and cinnamon sticks, are added to the cooking oil, to flavour the oil which in turn will flavour the onions when browning.

Then fresh ginger, garlic, and green chillies are the added for their woody, heat, and fiery flavours.

This is the then followed by dried spice powders like red chilli, turmeric, cumin, and coriander, they are all added for taste and flavour and perform a complex role. They are normally added after the tomatoes or mixed with a little water to prevent them from burning. They cook for a long period of the cooking time and thus add a warm, sweet, mellow, earthy taste to the dish.

Finally at the end lemon juice, garam masala, and fresh coriander are added for their taste, aroma, and colour.

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Did you know?

– Almost half the population of India (500million) are vegetarians.

– Indian food includes an amazing range of different fresh vegetables and fruits, cooked in a multitude of ways that help retain their freshness and nutrients.

– A typical Indian meal incorporates vegetables, lentils, whole grains, dairy and a little meat or fish. This provides all the essential elements carbohydrates, protein, fats, and fibre for a well balanced diet.

– Traditional Indian cooking almost always uses fresh fantastic ingredients and involves making dishes from scratch. This results in food that is healthier and has more or less no preservatives.

– Some Indians believe that the chemical balance provided by what we eat aids healing and promotes good health and well being.

– Many of the spices and ingredients used in Indian dishes (garlic, fresh root ginger, turmeric, green chillies, and tomatoes) are known for their medicinal and healing properties.

– Indian dishes do not always have to be hot and spicy, herbs are added for flavour and aroma and spices for taste or aroma. Chillies are what adds the heat to a dish, and are a matter of preference and can be adjusted to taste.

– The key difference between south Indian curries and south-east Asia is the use of curry leaves in Indian and kaffir lime leaves in Asian.

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The word ‘Curry’

Ask anyone in the West what first springs to mind when they think of Indian food and they are most certain to say curry. What does the word curry mean and where did it originate from?

In India, the word curry refers to a sauce or gravy used as an accompaniment to moisten grains of rice or to make rotis more enjoyable.

The word curry is generally believed to be an anglicized version of the south Indian word Kaari, a Tamil word meaning sauce. It is thought that when the British were active in this area, the spelling was somehow changed to curry.

Other theories suggest that the word cury has evolved from the Karhai, which is a commonly used Indian cooking vessel, another suggests that the word existed in English in the context of cooking since the 14th century, and that it was originally derived from the French verb cuire (to cook).

More recent research shows that the history of the curry can be traced way back in time. Archaeological evidence found in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) mentions a meat dish with a spicy sauce that could have been the first recorded curry.

Today however, there is no doubt that the word curry has become synonymous with a spicy sauce in which meat, poultry, fish or vegetables are cooked.

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Welcome to our Indian food blog

Over a period of time we will not only simply write about the Indian food that you might find in your local Indian restaurant or takeaway (by the way about 70% of them are not really Indian but Bangladeshi), but also Indian regional dishes and street food and snacks, and traditional home cooked authentic healthy Indian food.

This will also be coupled with other topics ranging from the foreign influences on Indian cuisine, key to a successful curry, the map of India and major cities, various recipes, the spice trade, spices and their medicinal properties, and the word curry, to name a few. Please refer to the categories section of our blog for a full list of topics that will be covered.

We hope you find our blog interesting and look forward to receiving any comments from you.

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