Indian culinary traditions are based upon thousands of years of
Indian culture, but they have also absorbed and assimilated the
influences of the many settlers, conquerors, and colonists that
made their way onto Indian shores. Even within west Indian cuisine,
there are distinct regional influences, with individual styles arising
out of several states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.
Climate and geography have played a role in the development of the
variety of West Indian culinary traditions.
rice is the fundamental part of most West Indian cuisine, the dishes
out of Gujarat are the exception, as wheat and other grains also
play a major role in the dining experience. Rotis and several other
types of flat breads are served with most meals. Jainism, which
is a branch of Hinduism, has had a great affect on the culinary
of traditions of this area and thus the area is well known for its
vegetarian cuisine. The foods of this area tend to be simpler than
the cuisine of other regions of India, reflecting basic Jain values.
aren't meant to overpower or mask foods but rather to enhance natural
flavors and to encourage the subtle blending of the flavors of combined
vegetables without losing the unique flavor contribution of each.
Cooking methods refrain from overcooking that can make individual
components of a dish indistinguishable from each other. The texture
of the food, as well the color and presentation style is as important
to the Gujarati cook as are the spices and freshness of produce.
food of Maharashtra is perhaps one of the more varied cuisines in
India, ranging from simple vegetarian preparations to complicated
delicacies created from the abundance of seafood available in the
region. Like most Indian dishes, rice is the foundation. However,
West Indian cuisine, particularly that of Maharashtra, uses a good
deal less oil than other regions of India.
than ghee, which is prominent in other locales of India, peanut
oil is used, and in small amounts. In fact, for many dishes, the
mark of quality is the lack of visible oil. Vegetables are often
prepared in more health conscious ways, such as steaming. Deep-frying
is rarely used in the cuisine of this region. Sweet and sour flavors,
created through the use of jaggery, a type of deep brown sugar,
and tamarind, are popular for both vegetable and fish dishes.
masala is a regional spice mixture common to many dishes. Aside
from being flavorful, it has a long shelf life when kept in the
refrigerator. It is made of coriander seeds, dried coconut, red
chilies, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, black cardamom, white
cumin, turmeric, karala, asafetida, nakeshwar, dagad phool, masala
phool, sesame seeds,poppy seeds, and cinnamon or cassia tree bark.
Different cooks use slightly different ratios to blend these spices.
the regional cuisines grouped together as West Indian culinary traditions
may differ somewhat, with various states having their own specialties,
they do have a few common elements. Primary among these elements
is the attention devoted to quality of ingredients and the creation
of harmonious dishes that allow the essential note of each ingredient
to have voice, even as they blend to create a delicious whole.
Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties
and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.