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The Taste of India - Culinary Arts

Chef Praveen Abraham Chef Instructor Culinary Academy Of India

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India is a country that spreads over 3.28 million km² with a population of 139.70 crores. The Indian constitution recognizes 22 major languages and 29 states with different cultures. The country also has a host of tribes and traditions, varied climate and soil conditions, and rich history going as far back as 7,600 BC. India also has all sorts of terrains including mountains, rainforests, hills, plains, deserts (hot and cold), coasts, and islands. This diversity shows itself in the food culture of the country too with people enjoying different tastes, recipes, and styles all over the country. So when we talk about Indian cuisine in general, what exactly are we talking about?

Indian cuisine is an extremely broad category of food and drinks that, as a term, simply does not encapsulate the length and breadth of the country. Cuisines within India vary greatly across each state, geography, and culture. In fact, the dishes prevalent in South India are hard to find in the North, and vice versa. The food habits of each region have also diversified over time due to factors like domestic and international trade, economy, migration, colonialization, and availability of ingredients. This variation in food habits is so immense that Indian cuisine could be considered as one-of-the most diverse food cultures in the world.


Going back in time one can find heavy influences of the pre-Aryan period in Indian cuisine. The spice and aromatic-heavy style of Indian cuisine goes back to this ancient civilization and today, masalas and spices are the heart of Indian cooking. Different combinations of spices, powders, aromatics, and herbs give Indian food its intensive, infinite flavor variations. In addition to spices, Indian cuisine is also rich in various types of dairy products which adds its own flavor to the food.

One of the biggest reasons for food diversity is socio-religious habits. India is a secular country that houses a significant portion of all major religions worldwide including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and more. Ever since ancient times, India and its people have bowed down to the food customs and practices mentioned in their respective religions. While some religions ban meat altogether, others have similar prohibitions on select meat and vegetables.

the-taste-of-india-culinary-arts

Going back in time one can find heavy influences of the pre-Aryan period in Indian cuisine. The spice and aromatic-heavy style of Indian cuisine goes back to this ancient civilization and today, masalas and spices are the heart of Indian cooking. Different combinations of spices, powders, aromatics, and herbs give Indian food its intensive, infinite flavor variations. In addition to spices, Indian cuisine is also rich in various types of dairy products which adds its own flavor to the food.

One of the biggest reasons for food diversity is socio-religious habits. India is a secular country that houses a significant portion of all major religions worldwide including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and more. Ever since ancient times, India and its people have bowed down to the food customs and practices mentioned in their respective religions. While some religions ban meat altogether, others have similar prohibitions on select meat and vegetables.

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the-taste-of-india-culinary-arts

Apart from religion, trade and migration have also helped shape India’s palette. In fact, 1/3rd of India’s most popular ingredients are foreign. Traditional Indian foods such as rice, millets, pulses, sugarcane, bananas, mangoes, lemons, taro, and yam are indigenous to the country. However, common ingredients like onion, tomatoes, potatoes, chilies, mustard seeds, pumpkin, carrots, maize, coffee, garlic, and wheat were all brought to the country over its history. Today, these ingredients are part of a staple Indian diet and deeply rooted within the culinary landscape of India. Apart from ingredients, several kitchen equipment, and items now famous in the country were once brought here, like the Tandoor.

When it comes to the modern staple Indian diet, there are plenty of variations across the country. However, there is quite a lot in common too. Indian meals always contain rice, wheat, or other millets depending on the region. These are generally eaten with lentils, pulses, vegetables, pickles, and chutneys. This is supplemented by regional fruits and dairy products. Chicken and fish are extremely popular inland and in coastal areas, whereas red meat is more prevalent based on the socio-religious demographics of each area. Spices and powders such as mustard powder, red chili powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves are common everywhere. These spices not only help flavor the food but have proven health benefits too.

the-taste-of-india-culinary-arts

My inspiration behind this project is to bring this diversity to the forefront. The culinary history of India is steeped in skill, taste, ingredients, and regional diversity. Using the map of India as an element in the prop allows one to not only visualize the range of Indian cuisine but also allows for co-relation between geographies and taste preferences. This display includes all sorts of recipes, and in my opinion, is a diverse representation of Indian cuisine.

That said, this is in no way the range of Indian cuisine but a simple visual representation of it. Indian cuisine is varied, diverse, and truly one-of-a-kind, where each recipe deserves its time in the spotlight on the center stage.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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