Introduction to Indian Cuisine
Indian food encompasses a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India.
Given the range of diversity in soil type, climate and occupations, these
cuisines vary significantly from each other and use locally available spices,
herbs, vegetables and fruits.
Indian food is also heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices and
Geography of India
India lies largely on the Indian Plate, the northern portion of the IndoAustralian Plate, whose continental crust forms the Indian subcontinent.
It is seventh largest country in the world.
$The Ganges is the longest river originating in India.
The Himalayan range is considered as the world's highest mountain range,
with its tallest peak Mt. Everest on the Nepal–China border.
The climate of India resolves into climatic subtypes:
Desert in the west,
Alpine tundra and glaciers in the north,
Humid tropical regions supporting rain forests in the southwest,
Indian Ocean island territories that flank the Indian subcontinent.
The nation is largely subject to four seasons:
Winter (January and February),
Summer (March to May),
Monsoon (rainy) season (June to September),
Post-monsoon period (October to December).
Staple Food of India
Staple Foods of India
Staple foods of Indian cuisine include:
Pearl millet (bajara)
Whole-wheat flour (atta)
Variety of lentils,
especially masoor (most often red lentils)
toor (pigeon pea)
urad (black gram)
moong (mung bean)
Rajma or kidney beans, lobiya are very common, especially in the northern
Channa and mung are also processed into flour (besan).
) - It is a combination of sautéing, stir frying and stewing.
) - literally means steam. It is a method of cooking food on very low flame, with
the help of steam entrapped in a sealed containers.
) - his is basically a process by which the aroma and flavour of spices and herbs
is imbided in the oil which, when mixed with the dish makes it delicious.
Balchao (Pickling) (
) - a Goan specialty, influenced by the Portuguese, where
vegetables like eggplant or seafood like prawns are "pickled" in sugar, vinegar and spices for
a day or two before eating.
Zammin doz (
) - this is a style of cooking in which a hole is dug in the ground and the
ingredients are placed and covered with mud. Then burning charcoal is placed over it. It is a
time taking process and takes around 6 hours.
Dhuanaar (Smoke Seasoning) (
) - This is a quick smoke procedure used to flavour a
meat dish, dals or even raita or salad.
Tawa Cooking (
) - A tawa is a round, thick iron griddle, and is slightly concave in the
center. It is used when very high temperatures are needed and is mostly used for Indian
unleavened breads called chappati or rotis. It is also used for cooking some unique dishes
which require fast cooking with the outer rim is used to keep the dish warm.
Handi cooking - Handi means an earthen pot in which cooking of curries takes
place on slow fire. Handi comes in different shapes and size but main feature
remains the same to all that is a thick bottom that ensures that food does not
stick to the bottom. It is well known fact that the food cooked on slow fire
preserves the natural characteristics- aroma.
Talna (Frying) (
) - It is the process of cooking food by immersing it in the
dip pan of hot oil. It is also know as frying. It could be shallow fried also.
Ubalna (Boiling) (
) - This is to cook ingredients in liquid with the liquid
kept at boiling point 100 degree centigrade so that the surface of the water
bubbles and turns over continually.
) - It refers to the use of softening agents like raw papaya
paste (papain), pineapple, kachari etc. to tenderize the meat.
Loab / Rogan (
) - It refers to the final stage of cooking when the oil used
during cooking, rises to the surface, giving the dish a finished appearance.
This happens when slow cooking of gravy dishes is involved.
Gunana/Guthna (Kneading) (
) - This is a process by which a flour or a
mixture of flours and other ingredients are combined to form a dough.
Cooking Methods (Cont’d)
Fetna (Beating) (
) - This is a process by which the consistency,
appearance or colour of a mixture or a substance is modified by a sharp
stroking movement. The operation is carried out in many ways according to
the nature of ingredients, utensils used and the purpose.
Baste - To moisten meat at intervals with a liquid as melted butter, fat, or
pan drippings especially during cooking especially used in grilling and roasting
and other meat preparations where the meat is over heat for extended
periods of time, basting can flavor the meat and keep it moist. Meat needs to
be basted several times during cooking.
Bind - This is to press moistened flour or other ingredients into a sticky ball
using the fingers e.g. stuffing samosa etc.
Herbs and Spices
Indian name: Chakra Phool
Description: it is used as a spice in preparation of biryani and masala chai all
over the Indian subcontinent. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, and in
Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay
and Indonesian cuisine. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India,
and most other countries in Asia
Indian name: Khus Khus
Description: white poppy seeds are added for thickness, texture and also give
added flavor to the recipe. Commonly used in the preparation of korma,
ground poppy seed, along with coconut and other spices, are combined as the
masala to be added at the end of the cooking step. It is quite hard to grind
them when raw, so they are normally dry fried, and then mixed with a little
water to get the right paste consistency.
Indian Bay leaf
Indian Name: Tej Patta
Description: also known as tejpat, Malabar leaf, Indian bark, Indian cassia, or
malabathrum is a tree within the Lauraceae family which is native to India,
Nepal, Bhutan, and China. It can grow up to 20 m (66 ft) tall. It has aromatic
leaves which are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. It is thought to
have been one of the major sources of the medicinal plant leaves known in
classic and medieval times as malabathrum (or malobathrum).
Indian name: Chironji
Description: The charoli seed is lentil-sized, is slightly flattened and has an
almond-like flavour. Though they can be eaten and used raw they are often
toasted or roasted before use, as this intensifies the flavour.They are
commonly used in sweets in India. However, they are also ground into
powders for thickening savory sauces and flavoring batters, and stewed into
rich, meaty kormas.
Curry tree or sweet neem leaf
Indian Name: Kadipatta (Currypatta)
Description: leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighbouring
countries. Often used in curries, the leaves generally called by the name
"curry leaves", though they are also translated as "sweet neem leaves" in most
The leaves are highly valued as seasoning in southern and west-coast Indian
cooking, and Sri Lankan cooking, especially in curries, usually fried along with
the chopped onion in the first stage of the preparation
They are also used to make thoran, vada, rasam and kadhi. In their fresh
form, they have a short shelf life, and they don't keep well in the refrigerator.
They are also available dried, though the aroma is largely inferior.
Cooking Utensils of India
Other name: Rolling pin, Belni, LATANA
Description: Belan is a long cylindrical attachment used to roll chapattis and
parathas. Made of wood or plastic, it is referred to as the soul of 'chakla' – a
dough-kneading plate, which is a flat platform either made of wood or
Other Names: Idli Thattu.
Description: It is a high quality stainless steel container which makes cooking
idlis really easy. These idli cookers are available in 2 sizes. It is a must for
cooking any South Indian dish. The idli cooker comes with a plain bottom or a
Other Names: Clay oven, Tandur, Taftoons.
Description: A tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used in India and other parts
of Southeast Asia in which food is cooked over charcoal or wood.
The word tandoor comes from the Hindi words tandūr and tannūr.
Traditionally used for baking bread, it is also used for cooking tandoori
chicken and bread varieties like tandoori roti and naan.
Other Name: Griddle, Tawali, Dosa Kallu.
Description: Usually made of thick iron or aluminum, tawas are a slightly
concave cooking appliance. Today tawas are used for cooking everything from
chapattis, parathas, dosas, omlettes to pancakes.
Other Names: Plate, Thala, Thattu, Taat.
Description: thali is an individual serving plate with straight rims made of
stainless steel, aluminum or brass. Thalis have remarkably progressed from
banana leaf to metal since the ages of our ancestors. The vegetarian and nonvegetarian range of thalis served at Indian restaurants is inspired by this
unique kitchen appliance. It can also be used as a lid to cover a vessel.
Regional Cuisine of India
Punjab is a northern state of India and is
very popular for its rich food . Punjabi
recipe is prepared in delicious gravy and
punjabi parathas melted in butter/ ghee.
Punjabi dishes is simple, healthy and yet has
its own fascination. The famous dishes like
matar paneer, dal makhani, parathas,
bature, lassi are popular all over India.
Bengali cooking is famous for sweets made
from cottage cheese. Sandesh, Rosogolla,
chanar payesh are few of the very popular
recipes. Mishti Doi (sweetened curd) and Patali
gur confectionery (date palm jaggery) are
Every district in Bengal has a special sweet
recipe of its own . Langcha and Mihidana
Sitabhog of Bardhaman, Sharbhaja of
Krishnanagar, Chanabora of Murshidabad and so
on. Luchi, Bengali Fish Curry, Cholar Dal and
Aloo Posto to Gurer Payesh and Chum Chum
are any food lovers first choice.
The ancient princely state of Rajasthan gave rise to a
royal cuisine. The Rajas who went on hunting
expeditions ate the meat or the fowl that they brought
back. Even today, Rajasthani princely feasts flaunt
meat cuisines that are incomparable. In contrast are
the vegetarian Rajasthanis.
Their food cooked in pure ghee is famous for it's
mouth- watering aroma. Rajasthan's tastiest curries
are based on the use of pulses or gram flour. Dry
fruits, spices and yogurt are used in many delicacies.
Rajasthan can also boast of a vast array of savouries
and sun-dried snacks. Be it dal baati and churma or
missi roti , one always ends up licking his fingers.
Fish and rice are the staple Goan food and the main
occupation is tourism – over a million people visit
the beaches of Goa each year.
Goa combines old Portuguese architecture, and a
distinct Portuguese flavour to the lifestyle, with a
history that abounds with Indian mythology.
Christmas, New Year, the Mardi Gras-like carnival,
the Holi (Shimgo) parades, all add to the year round
Gujarati cuisine has special place all over
India. Gujarati cooking consists of dal,
bhaat( rice), vegetables, chapatis,
kachumbar( mixed vegetables salad),
papad and curd.
Gujarati food is nourishing and balanced.
Snacks like dhokla, khandvi, sweets like
basundi are famous for its taste.
Maharashtrian or Marathi food consist large
variety of vegetables, fish and coconuts.
Maharashatrian food is rich in ginger, garlic
and lots of spices. Tomatoes, brinjals and
other vegetables stuffed with masala fillings
and cooked in oil till soft are very popular in
Maharashtra. Cooking is mainly done in
groundnut oil but it is made sure that the oil is
minimum. Bharwan Baingan, Kohlapuri Rassa,
Puran Poli, Aamti, Bombay Chiwda are some of
the popular recipes.
Andhra Pradesh Cuisine
Cuisine of Andhra Pradesh is a blend of
Telugu cuisine along with Hyderabadi
cuisine (also known as Nizami cuisine.
The food is rich in spices, for which it is
popular among south Indian cuisine. Rice
is the staple food of Andhra people.
Starch is consumed with a variety of
curries and lentil soups or broths.
Vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods are
both popular. Seafood is common in the
coastal region of the state.
Varieties in the cuisine of Karnataka reflect
influences from the three neighbouring
South Indian states, as well as the states of
Maharashtra and Goa to its North.
Typical dishes include bisi bele bath, jolada
rotti, chapati, ragi rotti, akki rotti, saaru,
huli, vangibath, khara bath, kesari bath,
benne dose, ragi mudde, and uppittu. The
Kodagu district is famous for spicy pork
curries (pig curry) while coastal Karnataka
specialises in seafood.
Kerala cuisine blends indigenous dishes with
foreign ones adapted to local tastes.
Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala, so
grated coconut and coconut milk are
commonly used for thickening and
Kerala's long coastline and numerous rivers
have led to a strong fishing industry in the
region, making seafood a common part of
the meal. Rice is grown in abundance; along
with tapioca. It is the main starch ingredient
used in Kerala's food.
Tamil Nadu Cuisine
Tamil food is characterised by its use of rice,
legumes, and lentils, along with distinct aromas
and flavours achieved by the blending of spices
such as curry leaves, tamarind, coriander, ginger,
garlic, chili pepper, cinnamon, clove, cardamom,
cumin, nutmeg, coconut and rose water. A meal
(called Saapadu)consists of rice with other typical
Tamilian dishes on a banana leaf.
A typical Tamilian would eat in banana leaf as it
gives different flavour and taste to the food. But it
can also be served on a stainless steel tray - plate
with a selection of different dishes in small bowls.
Tamil food is characterised by tiffins, which is a
light food taken for breakfast or dinner and meals
which are usually taken during lunch.
The word "curry" is derived from the Tamil kari,
meaning something similar to "sauce".