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Indian Cuisine--Indian Cooking



Regional cuisines

Indian cuisine can be broken down into three distinct regional styles:

North Indian

South Indian

Eastern Indian

Due to India's geography, wheat is a staple of North Indian foods, while rice is the primary constituent of Southern and Eastern foods.

Staple ingredients and spices

The staples of Indian cuisine are rice, atta (a special type of whole-wheat flour), and at least five dozen varieties of pulses, the most important of which are chana (bengal gram; similar to the chick pea but smaller and more flavorful), toor (pigeon pea or red gram), urad (black gram) and mung (green gram). Pulses are used almost exclusively in the form of dal, except chana, which is often cooked whole for breakfast and is processed into flour (besan).

The most important spices in Indian cuisine are chilli pepper, black mustard seed (rai), cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, ginger, coriander and asafoetida (hing). In sweet dishes, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and rose petal essence are used.

Regional specialties

  • Idli, also from Southern India.
Steam-cakes, which are prepared from a fermented batter of rice and urad dal (gram). Soak rice and gram in water for about 12 hours, then grind the stuff to a watery paste. Place the paste into plates that contain small compartments with tiny holes under them, then cook in a pressure-cooker.
Idlis are very tasty when eaten with chutney or sambhar as a side-dish.
Made from wheat(rava) and vegetables. It is partly fried and boiled along with the cut vegetables and spices added.

Other famous Indian dishes

Indian bread is known by various names, including roti, poli, paratha, dosai and naan.

Some sweets and desserts

Indian food abroad

Britain has a particularly strong tradition of Indian cuisine that originates from the British Raj. At this time there were a few Indian restaurants in the richer parts of London that catered for British officers returning from their duties in India.

In the 20th century there was a second phase in the development of Anglo-Indian cuisine, as families from countries such as Bangladesh migrated to London to look for work. Some of the earliest such restaurants were opened in Brick Lane in the East End of London, a place that is still famous for this type of cuisine.

In the 1960s, a number of inauthentic "Indian" foods were developed, including the widely popular "chicken tikka masala". This tendency has now been reversed, with subcontinental restaurants being more willing to serve authentic Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani food, and to show their regional variations. In the late 20th century Birmingham was the centre of growth of Balti houses, serving a newly developed style of cooking in a large, wok-like, pan, with a name sometimes attributed to the territory of Baltistan, but more often derived from the Portuguese Balde, meaning 'bucket'.

Indian food is now a staple of the British diet: indeed it has been argued that Indian food can be regarded as part of the core of the British national cuisine.

In the United States of America, Indian cuisine has become far more popular and prevalent since the 1970s, especially in New York City but also in other large metropolitan areas nationwide, as a result of the huge increase in South Asian immigration.

See also



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