These are recipes I’ve developed based on my experiences traveling in India over many years.
When most westerners think of Indian food,
they really are just sampling the recipes of Rajasthan and Northern India in most Indian restaurants. But Indian cuisine is a rich and diverse culinary tradition and its use of spices, herbs, and flavors vares dramatically across the subcontinent. It encompasses a wide variety of dishes and cooking styles. For example, curries vary by region including such ingredients as cocunut milk, unkown in the north, and varying greatly in hotness.
While Indian cuisine has its roots in ancient India, (and has been influenced by the various cultures that have occupied the region over the centuries, including Persian, Mughal, and British[!]), much of what we know as Indian cooking was profoundly changed with the introduction of new world food such as maize, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers in the 16th &17th century. Today they’re are considered essential to indian cooking.
One of the defining characteristics of Indian cuisine
its imaginative use of spices and herbs. Common spices include cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, and cardamom, while popular herbs include mint, cilantro, curry leaves and basil. These ingredients are used in a wide variety of dishes, including curries, stews, and soups, and are often combined to create complex and aromatic flavor profiles.
Another key aspect of Indian cuisine is its focus on vegetarianism. In Hinduism, a significant portion of the population practices vegetarianism for religious reasons, and as a result, many traditional Indian dishes are vegetarian. Early in my cooking career I lived in a communal house with 5-8 people and we were mostly vegetarian for eonomic reasons. Since no one else had much enthusiasm I became the main cook a nd many of my creations were based on Indian sources. Some popular vegetarian dishes include chana masala, aloo gobi, and baingan bharta.
Indian cuisine also features a range of breads, which are an important part of the diet in the country. Naan, roti, and paratha are served with meals. They are often made from whole wheat flour and are used to scoop up curries and sauces, or to wrap around fillings such as vegetables or meat.
Meat dishes are also a significant part of Indian cuisine
, and include a wide variety of styles and flavors, especiallyu in the north where lamb is popular. In the south fish is more common. Tandoori chicken, for example, is a popular dish that is marinated in spices and cooked in a clay oven known as a tandoor. Other meat dishes include biryani, a layered rice-based dish that is flavored with spices and contains meat or vegetables. Kebabs are small pieces of marinated meat that are grilled or baked.
In terms of sweets, Indian cuisine is renowned for its delicious desserts, which are often flavored with cardamom, saffron, and other spices. Many are covered with a ultra-thin layer of silver paper. Some popular sweets include gulab jamun, a deep-fried dough ball that is soaked in a syrup made from sugar and rosewater, and kulfi, a dense and creamy frozen dessert, similar to ice cream.
Indian cuisine is also known for its use of condiments such as chutneys and pickles, which are used to add flavor and texture to meals. Chutneys are typically made from fruits, vegetables, and spices, and are used as a dip or spread, while pickles not our vinegar based cucumberrs, but a variety of fermented as mangoes, limes, and vegetables.
As we travel, we always seek out new dishes. Sometimes the ingredients are obvious but combined in a new way. Other times we need to ask the waiter, or even go back to the kitchen to see for ourselves. These are some of the new dishes we found. Most haven’t been expanded to full recipes but are listed to give some ideas.
Some detailed recipes: