India : A melange of cuisines

India is a land of complexity and contrast. A vivid tapestry of people’s languages and cultures. Food being an integral part of Indian culture tells us who we actually are. Indian cuisine reflects an eight thousand year history of various groups and cultures interacting with the Indian subcontinent. Well, Indian cuisine is all about to explore the past and innovate the future. In India, recipes are handed over generation to generation. And you’ll find each family has got their unique recipes which they have been forwarded by their ancestors. We have a glorious food heritage, and we have to preserve what is with us.

A diverse gastronomy

Traditional Indian food has got the same base. It is hot, spicy, creamy, it’ll burn your mouth, and it’s hard to digest. Really? Well, it’s just a wisecrack. Indian cuisine is not just about being spicy creamy or hot. It boasts of an immense variety, and with every 100 yards (0.09 km) you’ll find a change in taste and cooking method.

If you go to the southern part of India, you will find rice being used in most of the preparations with lentil stews. The use of coconut, black mustard seeds, curry leaves and tamarind are prominent in South Indian cuisine. Also, they emphasis more on fermented food like the batter of dosa and idli. Contrastingly, North Indian cuisine is dominated by rich curries paired with breads.  It’s spicy and creamy! The cooking method mostly focus on clay ovens, tandoor basically. Similarly, the bold and rustic flavors of north India contrasts to the subtle sweet and tangy flavors of Gujarat or Maharashtra. And moving to the Eastern part, it’s totally different. From macher jhol to momos, you’ll find the amalgamation of Chinese and Mongolian cuisines. India is a vast country of 29 states, with 1.380 billion people speaking officially 22 languages, and approx. 780 other languages too. It makes a wide canvas with colorful flavors of different cuisines. The food of India is as regionally specific and diverse as it’s population.

Foreign influence

Indian cuisine is not only influenced by its topography but also it is heavily influenced by India’s history, conquerors, trade partners, and the religious, and cultural practices of its populace. Indian spices are highly coveted by Arabs and European traders, and in exchange India received many goods that greatly influenced its traditional gastronomy.
We are thankful to Arabs because of introducing coffee to India! Coffee runs humanity. Also, asafoetida powder is by Arabs itself. While the Portuguese came with tomatoes, chillies, and potatoes, Mughal conquerors came up with Persian flavors. They furnished us with the use of aromatic spices, nuts and dried fruits with cream based gravy between early 1500s to late 1600s. They infused culinary presentation with Persian flavors and practices. British ruled India for almost 200 years. During this time span, they introduced a lot of new cuisines for Indian taste buds. Such as soup and tea. Well, tea has a wide history for its spread, which also influenced the railways during that epoch. Chicken tikka masala being a flavorful non gravy marinated chicken pieces is termed to be an Anglo-Indian Britain’s true national dish. Also, the curry powder is a contribution of British creation. Persia, Ancient Greece, Mongols and West Asia and many other countries who have come here for business as well as to rule the country, has influenced Indian food, and it’s cooking techniques.

Evolution and revolution

India’s restlessness has forced it to innovate with what it had, with what the world gave, to the next level. Every community in India has its own blend of recipes, spices, and cooking techniques with their unique twist. Even your neighbor will cook the same dish with a unique blend of taste. It varies from hand to hand. Now, Indian cuisine is evolving. Food being an integral part of Indian diversity has a lot to give. Indian cuisine is as easy as thermodynamics. Well, it begins from one hundred and fifty-three ingredients in tunday kebab! Quite easy? Not really.

Restaurants are coming up with diverse menu. Which also gives a chance to people to enjoy a food who is not in favor of trying their hands in cooking. Clichéd restaurants is still an option for those who want to explore and learn the taste of other countries as well.

In India food doesn’t only mean sufficing the stomach. “Chappan Bhog”, a famous bhog comprising of fifty six food items. Starting from rice, dal, fritters to kheer. Well, it’s said that Lord krishna held the Gowardhan hill for 7 days without eating. So chappan bhog is to staisfy Lord Krishna’s eight, meals a day which makes 56 (chappan bhog). For Indians, food also means honoring the dead and celebrating the life over it. And so, the ritual of feasting on the thirteenth day after the funeral is done.

India’s regional cuisine and local flavors are crossing boundaries which also gives an opportunity to mélange different communities with their flavors and spices for a drool worthy taste. This makes India unquestionably unique regarding its cuisine.

By :
Shyamali Panda (


  1. Very nicely written. You covered all aspects of Indian cuisine so well and definitely left our mouth watering!

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