A Unique Cuisine
Incredibly varied, Indian cuisine is a combination of many nationalities and cultures. The most elaborate dishes come from the North and were inherited from the invading Persian Moghuls. Pulaos and Biryanis are rich and lavish due to the ingredients used• an abundance of meat, Ghee (clarified butter), nuts and saffrom. The North Indian Kormas in their Savoury sauces, the Kebabas and Tandoori dishes, complemented by homemade wheat breads such as Chappatis, Parathas and Naan are world-renowned. Hot, spiced tea is the favourite drink in the cold North Indian winter. In Southern India, where for the most part, people are vegetarians, RICE is the staple food and it is served throughout the meal. The dishes are also hotter than the Northern dishes with chillies being a popular ingredient, as well as large amount of coconut oil and coconut milk. Southern Indians prefer steamed food rather than the barbecued Tandoori food so popular in the North and the favourite beverage is the freshly roasted, ground coffee with sugar and milk. The Nilgiri Hills in the south are famous for producing some of the world’s finest coffees. The preparation and presentation of Indian Cuisine varies from region to region. However, the above information broadly illustrates the essential basic differences between the cooking of North and South India.
Spices of Life
Around 5000 years ago, the Himalayan Sages conceived the use of spices and herbs as natural means to balance the metabolism of the body. Some spices were “Heat Producing”. Others were “Cooling”. The knowledge became part of Ayurveda - the Hindu “Science of Medicine” - eventually surfacing as taste giving ingredients Indian cooking and it is the variety, the combinations and the myriad uses of spices that distinguishes Indian cooking from any other cuisine in the world. The origin of the popular aphorism “The Spice of Life” can perhaps be traced to those ancient times.
The Exciting Taste of a Timeless Tradition
Indian villages still use the traditional mud stoves and clay ovens for cooking purposes and fed with coal or firewood, the food becomes imbued with a special smoked flavour. One such oven is the “Tandoor”. Shaped like a barrel with live coals at the bottom, the cylinder becomes evenly heated. The food, prepared first in a special Marinade, is spiked on long metal rods and inserted into the oven for roasting. The Tandoor was introduced into India from the Arab world prior to the 13th century and eventually became so popular with the reigning Moghuls that the Emperor Jehangir • a connoisseur of both good food and good living• considered it an essential item in his travelling kit for his hunting expeditions.
Rice is known to have been used in the Indus Valley around 3000 BC. India today grows nearly 1000 varieties of rice with colours ranging from almost white, to yellow, to reddish brown, each having its own particular characteristics and fragrance.
Pulao: A Persian word meaning “Rice boiled in Meats and Spices”. Chicken is traditionally the most agreeable meat for this type of dish.
Biryani: The Persian word for “Fried” or “Roasted”. The Biryani, regarded as one of the finest expressions of Indian cooking, reached its height of perfection at the court of Shah Jehan in the 17th century. Lamb or Mutton were the meats generally employed in creating the royal repast.
The Chorus of 1 Billion Indians I Roti Is Most Commonly Spoken Word. It Means Bread.
Roti: Originally, the name applied to ground whole Wheat Dough roasted on an open fire. CHAPATI: Roti, when roasted oven an open fire on a “Tava” • or cast iron plate.
Puri: A Chapati, deep fried in Ghee (clarified butter).
Paratha: Roti, lightly fried on a “Tava” sprinkled with oil, rather than deep fried like the Puri. A thicker, layered Roti of richer taste, which permits a number of stuffing’s to be used for further enhancing the taste and nutritional value.
Naan: The Persian word for Roti, generally applied to refined, white bread made with flour (Maida).
Tandoori and Tandoori Naan: are those breads roasted in THE TANDOOR.
The variety of Indian Breads is enormous and differs from region to region. However, those listed are the better-known examples, which deliciously complement the Indian dining experience.