Enjoyed by millions of people around the globe, Indian cuisine has as much heart and soul as its people. In the self-proclaimed ‘world’s largest democracy’, the country’s amazing array of food is what brings family, friends and the Indian community together. Though holding strong to its Hindu and Jain influences, and its Islamic influence from the Mughal years, India’s gastronomy has also been coloured by her historic trade relations and colonial past. While some may know of the British origins of tea, it may be surprising to learn that the humble aaloo (potato) and ubiquitous chilli- two staples of the Indian diet today- were introduced by the Portuguese.
Soaring mountains, sweltering desert, shimmering backwaters, luscious paddy fields: the colossal variety of India’s natural environment will truly make your head spin. From North to South, the country’s food mirrors, and makes the best of, this myriad of landscapes. The extreme climates found in India have created a multitude of cuisines, from the stuffed chilli cutlets found in the north’s parching Rajasthan, to the potent toddy (coconut beer) found in the south’s coconut-rich Kerala.
Ever thoughtful, the colourful cuisine of this country caters to every traveller’s diet. Seafood fans will find fantastic dishes in the north and south: with fruity and Portuguese twists in West Bengal and Goa respectively. If you like slow-cooked meals, the ‘dum pukht’ techniques in Awadhi cuisine will be a revelation, while the delicious masala dosas of the South will satisfy those looking for a quicker meal option. India is truly a vegetarian’s haven, with the amazing array of vegetarian dishes available. One food item that unites all travellers is the refreshing lassi: a milky drink, best in mango or banana flavours, which provides the perfect respite from a spicy curry.
India’s talent for combining her natural assets with the best outside influences has led to a delightful and often surprising cuisine. Prepare to be rocked this way, that way, and another new way altogether: India and her incredible cuisine will transform your taste-buds forever.