The unforgettable aroma of India is
not just the heavy scent of jasmine and roses on the warm
air. It is also the fragrance of spices so important to
Indian cooking - especially to preparing curry. The world
"curry" is an English derivative of "kari", meaning soice
sauce, but curry does not, in India, come as a powder. It is
the subtle and delicate blending of spices such as turmeric,
cardamom, ginger, coriander, nutmeg and poppy seed. Like an
artist’s palette of oil paints, the Indian cook has some
twenty-five spices (freshly ground as required) with which
to mix the recognized combinations or "masalas".
these spices are also noted for their medicinal properties.
They, like the basic ingredient, vary from region to region.
Although not all Hindus are vegetarians, you will probably
eat more vegetable dishes than is common in Europe,
particularly in South India. Indian vegetables are cheap,
varied and plentiful and superbly cooked. Broadly speaking,
meat dishes are more common in the north, notably, Rogan
Josh (curried lamb), Gushtaba (spicy meat balls in yoghurt),
and the delicious Biriyani (chicken or lamb in orange
flavored rice, sprinkled with sugar and rose water). Mughlai
cuisine is rich, creamy, deliciously spiced and liberally
sprinkled with nuts and saffron. The ever popular Tandoori
cooking (chicken, meat or fish marinated in herbs and baked
in a clay oven) and kebabs are also northern cuisine.
Another custom is to eat with your fingers but remember only
of the right hand ... Besides the main dishes, there are
also countless irresistible snacks available on every street
corner, such as samosa, fritters, dosa and vada. For the
more conservative visitor, western cooking can always be
found. Indeed, the best styles of cooking from throughout
the world can be experienced in the major centers in India.
Tea is India’s favourite drink,and.many of the varieties are
famous the world over. It will often come ready brewed with
milk and sugar unless "tray tea", is specified. Coffee is
increasingly popular..Nimbu Pani (lemon drink), Lassi (iced
buttermilk) and coconut milk straight from the nut are cool
and refreshing. Soft drinks (usually sweet) and bottled
water are widely available, as, are ’Western alcoholic
drinks. Indian beer and gin are comparable with the world’s
best, and are not expensive. Note that Liquor Permits are
required in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
In the south, curries are mainly vegetable and inclined to
be more hot. Specialties to look out for are Bhujia
(vegetable curry), Dosa, Idli and Sambar (rice pancakes,
dumplings with pickles and vegetable and lentil curry), and
Raitas (yoghurt with grated cucumber and mint). Coconut is a
major ingredient of South Indian cooking. On the West coast
there is a wide choice of fish and shellfish; Bombay duck
(curried or fried bomnloe fish) and pomfret (Indian salmon)
are just two. Another specialty is the Parsi Dhan Sak (lamb
or chicken cooked with curried lentils) and Vindaloo vinegar
marinade. Fish is also a feature of Bengali cooking as in
Dahi Maach (curried fish in yoghurt flavored with turmeric
and ginger) and Malai (curried prawn with coconut).
One regional distinction is that whereas in the south rice
is the staple food, in the north this is supplemented and
sometimes substituted by a wide range of flat breads, such
as Pooris, Chapattis and Nan. Common throughout India is
Dhal (crushed lentil soup with various additional
vegetables), and Dhai, the curd or yoghurt which accompanies
the curry. Besides being tasty, it is a good "cooler"; more
effective than liquids when things get too hot. Sweets are
principally milk based puddings, pastries and pancakes.
Available throughout India is Kulfi, the Indian ice cream,
Rasgullas (cream cheese balls flavoured with rose water),
Gulab Jamuns (flour, yoghurt and ground almonds), and Jalebi
(pancakes in syrup).
Besides a splendid choice of sweets and sweetmeats, there is
an abundance of fruit, both tropical – mangoes, pomegranates
and melons – and temperate apricots, apples and
strawberries. Western confectionery is available in major
centers. It is common to finish the meal by chewing Pan as a
digestive. Pan is a betel leaf in which are wrapped spices
such as aniseed and cardamon.
The variety of Indian cooking is immense, it is colorful and
aromatic, it can be fiery or not as desired and it is
inexpensive even at the top class hotels. No wonder, then
that it is now the third most popular cuisine in the world
nor will it be any more surprising when it becomes the