has rich and varied culinary traditions, many deeply enmeshed with
spiritual traditions that are thousands of years old. Other culinary
styles arrived throughout India's long history with those who wandered
into the land from afar and settled here and there, as well as with
those who invaded its territories, subjugating native populations.
Still others have been shaped by the natural forces of climate and
geography. These many culinary styles can be generally divided into
four regional cuisines, with north Indian flavors and style standing
out distinctly from the rest.
northern part of India is said to be part of the India in which
the influence of the early light-skinned Aryan invaders can still
be seen, in the cuisine, culture, and language. This is the part
of the world in which Sanskrit is believed to have evolved. North
Indian cuisine encompasses the culinary traditions of the various
northern countries, including Punjabi, Awadh, Kashmiri, Marwari,
Rajasthani, Gharwal, and Pahari. Due to climate and growing conditions,
wheat plays a stronger role in northern Indian cuisine than in other
areas of the country. Also Tandoori cuisine comes from the north.
are an essential element to Indian cuisine, and they employ some
of the most aromatic and beautiful spices on earth. Historically,
however, in addition to adding delectable flavors and attractive
aromas, the spices were chosen for their food preservation and medicinal
properties. While many spices are common throughout most Indian
cuisines, the methods and ratios of usage differ in each region,
with some spices being much more common in some areas and other
flavors being more specific.
Indian cooks tend to use their spices in freshly ground powder form.
peppers are common to Indian cuisine, and in the north, the Degchi
Mirchi, or Kashmiri chili pepper are especially popular. Ground
red chili powder is important northern Indian flavor, as is turmeric,
sweet bay or laurel leaves, cumin, black and green cardamom, coriander,
cassia tree bark -- for which cinnamon is often substituted -- cloves,
saffron, nutmeg, black and yellow mustard seeds, fennel, asafetida,
curry leaves, fenugreek, tamarind, fresh cilantro leaves, and mint.
masala is a spice mixture used extensively in northern Indian cuisine.
This is a blend of spices, which is loosely built upon a set of
common spices, but varies widely from region to region, even from
family to family. In the north, a basic garam masala would consist
of raw cardamom seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Ghee,
or clarified butter, is particularly important to the flavor of
breads of various types, including chapattis, roti, puri, different
types of parantha, and tandoori baked breads like nan are a part
of most north Indian meals. Showing the religious influence of the
Vaishnava Hindus, the northern states -- Uttar Pradesh in particular
-- have created some of the finest vegetarian cuisine in the world,
built upon a wide variety of pulses, or legumes and fragrant Basmati
Indian flavors have become an important part of international cuisine,
spreading through the world's metropolitan centers and into the
food cultures of many countries. Beloved especially for its specialized
tandoori dishes and vegetarian creations, North Indian cuisine continues
to expand and flourish globally.
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