India has a complex history that includes long periods of European
colonization. It has developed culinary traditions that reflect
centuries of heritage and a variety of cultural influences. In addition
to the various cultures that have assimilated into the cuisine of
the region, the geography also has influenced the development of
the culinary traditions of East India, as has the climate.
and Spanish explorers first brought the spices of India to Europe
in the 15th and 16th centuries, inspiring European political and
economic colonization of the area. The famous and infamous British
East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, both established
in the 17th century, were companies specifically created for the
production and sale of a variety products from the region, ranging
from the famous spices to opiate poppies. Naturally, as the native
populations interacted with the European exploiters, a European
influence came to affect local cuisines.
to the coast ensures that seafood is an important part of the East
Indian diet. The wide variety of fish is prepared in many ways.
Naturally, the area is well known for delectable fish curries, but
seafood is also fried with spices that serve to enhance rather than
to mask flavors, served steamed and delicately spiced, and is used
to create snacks and appetizers like pakora, offered with chutneys
and other dipping sauces.
of the prominence of seafood in the cuisine, and a climate conducive
to the growth of a variety of vegetables and fruits, the food of
East India tends to be of a lighter sort. Spices are used with a
lighter hand and preferred cooking methods are often of the sort
that enhance natural flavors and encourage the subtle blending of
flavors, such as stir frying, steaming and boiling. A moist, rainy
climate allows for the production of rice, which functions as a
staple of most meals.
addition to savory fish dishes, East Indian cuisine is known throughout
the world for the quality of its sweets, with many of its confections
deeply rooted in Hindu culture. Many religious ceremonies and celebrations
have specific confections associated with them, and they include
ritual offerings of sweets to gods and to the poor.
with many East Indian dishes, the sweets of this region tend to
be less dense, making them a bit more appealing to westerners than
some of the very heavy, ultra-sweet confections of other regions
in India. In addition to candies and other similar dessert-style
sweets, the region is known for its fine cakes, which have a distinctly
European influence, as does the preference for tea as a beverage.
Indian cuisine has a distinct flavor that sets it apart from the
cuisines of other parts of India. European explorers who were attracted
to eastern shores contributed their own culinary style to the region,
as did Muslim settlers, resulting in the amazing combination of
cultures that created the unique flavors of East Indian cuisine.
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