Indian food is particularly loved all round the world for its spicy, hot and unique tastes.
Indian cuisine is divided mainly into four regions based on the four cardinal points of this great nation. Each region has its own characteristics and is influenced directly by different cultures and local traditions, as well as by the geography and by the availability of certain kinds of food.
In the north of India food is usually less spicy than the rest of the country, thanks to the influences of the nearby countries it uses a great variety of spices and the typical dishes are usually more complex.
Dried fruit, yoghurt and nuts are used to prepare dishes based on goat and lamb meat. Very frequent is also the use of saffron.
The dishes that we usually identify as the “typical” Indian cuisine are from Punjab.
Among the most famous dishes you can find the tandoori chicken (cooked in the tandoor, a clay oven), the naan and roti (two kinds of bread). The most used flavours are ginger and garlic. These are the main ingredients to create the typical mix of tastes that we usually associate to India.
The cuisine in the west is influenced by the religion and by the sea. The regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat have a mainly vegetarian diet. Sometimes fish and very rarely pork and chicken meat are part of the diet. Coconut oil and milk are used as seasoning for many dishes of this region.
In the east of India the main cooking tradition is the one from Bengal. Once again fish, spices (especially the unmistakable cumin) and the mix of sweet and spicy are the ingredients that make the dishes of this corner of India unforgettable.
If you are searching for the hottest and spiciest tastes of India, you can’t miss traditional southern Indian food. The most famous dish of this cuisine is the biryani, made with basmati rice and meat. In this region the food is served on banana leaves.
Finally, how not to mention lassi, the typical yoghurt-based beverage with spices which is popular all around India. Usually it is enriched by rose water, mango, lemon, ginger or saffron flavours.
Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh is famous for its refined cuisine, called Awadhi, developed among the old aristocratic classes. This gastronomic tradition is based on different influences from Turkey, Persia, Punjab, Mughal and even British heritage.
The main dishes of this cuisine include kebab balls of ground meat, marinated and slightly spiced, stuck on skewers and cooked in a tandoor or on a griddle.
There are also other specialties, including Awadhi bread and korma, braised meat with sauces and rice, as well as tasty desserts with nuts and saffron.
Thanks to its position, India has always been at the center of commercial routes over the millennia, so, especially in the coastal states, cuisine is so varied and heterogeneous. For example, Moplah cuisine of North Kerala combines local food tradition and Arabian influence: Arab traders were in fact the first to open commercial routes in India.
Moplah cuisine offers tasty biryani dishes, but also aleesa, which has its roots in Yemen, and pathiri, slices of thin delicate bread.
In the state of Tamil Nadu, tiffin are common: we are talking about delicious teatime snacks available in several versions and flavours, both sweet and salty. A very tasty kind is the lemon-coconut-tamarind tiffin, but there are really endless variations on the theme, to be enjoyed during the high tea.
You can savour tiffin in every eatery in Tamil Nadu, but the best option is to try them in a local home. So, if while on your India tour you happen to be invited in for tea, definitely go ahead and say yes!