India is a paradise for food lovers. Each Indian dish, with wide varieties of spices and cooking techniques, would make you drool for them and you would find it very difficult to stop yourself from licking your fingers because of the delicious food you can eat in India. As I get ready to explain about various cuisines of India, I already have water in my mouth for I am also a foodie who search for mouthwatering and finger licking food all the time. If you are looking for what Indian Cuisine has for the foodies, this is what you must know.
How many types of cuisines are there in India? Can you count the number of communities which reside in India? Can you make a rough calculation about different states in India? Can you sketch a rough draft about various regions in India? That is the exact type of cuisines you have in India to try.
Don’t get confused with the questions I asked above. Every region in India has its own cuisine which is completely unique; prepared with a unique blend of spices and cooking techniques. Each community has a cuisine based on its traditional practices and religious beliefs.
However, I like to categorize the Indian Cuisine according to some regions. Of course, they do not form the complete list. But they give you an overview about the vastness and uniqueness of Indian Cuisine.
Kashmir is known as paradise on earth because of its scenic beauty and so it does for its cuisine. Kashmiri Cuisine is a meat based cuisine where lamb and chicken are the basic ingredients of many dishes. The things which make this cuisine special are the Kashmiri spices and the cooking techniques. You can seriously find yourself full just by taking in the aroma of the dishes prepared.
Also, the variety in this very cuisine itself is huge. There is a lavish use of dry fruits and cottage cheese while preparing food in Kashmir. Discussion about Kashmiri Cuisine isn’t complete without talking about ‘Wazwan’. Wazwan is a Kashmiri version of buffet consisting of more than 36 dishes all served together just like in a ‘royal dinner’ in ancient India. It’s said, if you go to Kashmir and don’t have Wazwan, your visit is never complete.
If you are strong hearted enough, then try out the Punjabi Cuisine which has both vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes with an abundant use of milk and ghee (clarified butter). There are some exclusive dishes in Punjabi Cuisine which are famous all over the world. Sarson ka Saag and Makki Di Roti – no human can deny these two things. Go to any part of the world, every foodie would know about this.
Don’t doubt about the variety of dishes in Punjabi Cuisine. Apart from the two popular ones, there are many dishes which are very popular and delicious. Tandoori Food is another specialty of Punjabi Cuisine which consists of mainly the non vegetarian dishes. Also, Punjabis have their own version of Mughlai food which has become really popular in major hubs of the country like Delhi, Mumbai etc.
The cuisine has been greatly influenced by the availability of resources in the region. Due to the scarcity of water, Rajasthanis make more use of milk and clarified butter. Even green vegetables are not that common in the cuisine. The cuisine makes use of local spices like turmeric, mint, garlic etc. Each region in Rajasthan is specialized for a different dish. However, very popular Daal, Bhati and Churma is what that gave an international recognition to Rajasthani Cuisine.
Uttar Pradesh Cuisine
People of Uttar Pradesh are quite good in hospitality. They would feed you until you beg them to stop. There is a variety of vegetarian food ranging between very popular Aloo – Puri and desserts created by the Hindu Community.
Communities like Muslims, Kashmiri and Christians have introduced some of the amazing non – vegetarian dishes into this cuisine. The very popular Dum Technique of cooking is a creation of people from Uttar Pradesh. This technique is one of the most difficult to master and prepares really amazing dishes with a wonderful aroma which you cannot forget easily. Many popular snacks in India like Samosa are originally from Uttar Pradesh. Also, the Nawabi food of Uttar Pradesh is worth trying out.
This is a unique cuisine which is quite different from other culinary traditions prevailing in the country. As majority of the Gujaratis are vegetarians, food in Gujarati Cuisine is vegetarian food and has some really unique and popular recipes. Once you taste Gujarati food, the flavors and textures of the food would leave an irremovable mark on your memory. There are a number of recipes invented by the food fond Gujaratis but my favorite one is always the ‘Dhokla’.
At last, I am talking about my personal favorite – Bengali Cuisine. Though I am from Punjab but I love the food cooked by native people of Bengal. The flavor and the variety of food – both are amazing. Bengalis are famous all over the world because of the sweets which are made from curdled and burnt milk. For example, Rasgullas, Rasmalaai and Gulab Jamun etc. But my personal favorite is the recipes involving use of fish as basic ingredient. Bengalis love fish and that’s why they have a huge variety of dishes made from fish.
Panchphoron is what give all the Bengali dishes a different and unique taste. Panchphoron are actually five spices which are widely used in Bengali Cuisine – Zeera, Saung, Kalaunji, mustard seeds and fenugreek.
Let’s talk about the hottest and spiciest cuisine of India – Hyderbadi Cuisine.
Use of different spices with vegetables provides different kind of delicious and aromatic flavors to the Hyderabadi dishes. Exotic spices and ghee have been the key components which distinguish Hyderabadi Cuisine from others. In non vegetarian dishes, lamb is the most widely used ingredient. Also, Hyderabadi Biryani is an all time favorite of foodies in India.
Lots of fish, aromatic meat, coconut and rice - if you are looking for a cuisine like that; Maharashtrian Cuisine is the one which should know about. The people are in love with fish curries and make subtle use of spices in all the dishes. Desserts are mostly rice based and therefore, quite rare in India. Also, the crunchy and crispy flavor that each Maharashtrian Dessert possesses can make anyone ask for one more. Girls who are on diet should strictly stay away from Maharashtrian sweets for they wouldn’t be able to stop themselves from trying out the unique and not so common flavors again and again.
The only reason why I signed up for a trip to Goa is the seafood. People who are crazy about seafood must visit Goa. Prawns, Pomfrets, Lobsters and crabs - Goa will present you all of these in different forms like soups, pickles, curries, fries and salads. The taste of coconut milk in dishes is seriously awesome. And I must not forget to mention Feni which is a locally brewed popular drink in Goa.
Do you want to try the ‘best breakfast in India’? Malabari Cuisine is what you need. Defined and known for its simplicity, the cuisine provides some amazing vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. The most unique part of this cuisine is the way the food is served. The food in Malabari Cuisine is served on a banana leaf which defines the simplicity and humbleness of the people of India. Don’t worry about the hygiene. Serving food on banana leaf is considered to be very hygienic and easy as well.
Other Regional Cuisines
There are many other regional cuisines which I would be missing here. Some cuisines have blended with other cuisines so nicely that it becomes really difficult to distinguish between such cuisines. But one cuisine I would still like to mention is cuisine of Madhya Pradesh. The cuisine in the state varies from region to region. While north and west regions of the state, you would find meat and wheat eaters, south and east remain dominated by fish and rice. The state has some legendary dishes like Spicy Rogan Josh, Keema etc.
If I start talking about how Indian Cuisine is, all I can talk about is variety, mouth watering aroma and delicious taste. These three things are common in each of the cuisine prevalent in India. Every state takes you to a different paradise. Yes, a paradise is what a food lover finds in Indian Cuisine.