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Indian cuisine

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Title: Indian cuisine  
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Indian cuisine

Indian cuisine encompasses a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India. Given the range of diversity in soil type, climate and occupations, these cuisines vary significantly from each other and use locally available spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Indian food is also heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices and traditions.

The development of these cuisines have been shaped by Dharmic beliefs, and in particular by vegetarianism, which is a growing dietary trend in Indian society.[1] There has also been Central Asian influence on North Indian cuisine from the years of Mughal rule.[2] Indian cuisine has been and is still evolving, as a result of the nation's cultural interactions with other societies.[3][4]

Historical incidents such as foreign invasions, trade relations and colonialism have also played a role in introducing certain foods to the country. For instance, the potato, a staple of the Indian diet was brought to India by the Portuguese, who also introduced chillies and breadfruit.[5] Indian cuisine has also shaped the history of international relations; the spice trade between India and Europe is often cited by historians as the primary catalyst for Europe's Age of Discovery.[6] Spices were bought from India and traded around Europe and Asia. It has also influenced other cuisines across the world, especially those from Southeast Asia, the British Isles, and the Caribbean.[7][8]


Indian cuisine reflects a 5,000-year history of various groups and cultures interacting with the subcontinent, leading to diversity of flavours and regional cuisines found in modern-day India. Later, mughals, British, and Portuguese influence added to the already diverse Indian Cuisine.[9]


A normal diet in early India consisted of legumes, vegetables, fruit, grain, dairy products, honey, and sometimes eggs and meat. Over time, segments of the population embraced vegetarianism. The advent of Buddhism and Jainism affected this shift, as well as an equitable climate permitting a variety of fruit, vegetables, and grains to be grown throughout the year. A food classification system that categorised any item as saatvic, raajsic or taamsic developed in Yoga tradition. The Bhagavad Gita prescribes certain dietary practices (Chapter 17, Verses 8–10).[10] During this period, consumption of beef became taboo, due to cattle being considered sacred in Hinduism.[11] Many Indians continue to follow this belief, making the use of beef in Indian cuisine somewhat rare. Beef is generally not eaten by Hindus in India.[12]

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, several North Indian dynasties were predominant, including the Gupta dynasty. Travellers to India during this time introduced new cooking methods and products to the region, including tea and spices. Northern India was later invaded by Central Asian cultures, which led to the emergence of Mughlai cuisine, a mix of Indian and Central Asian cuisine. Hallmarks include seasonings such as saffron.[13]


Spices at a grocery shop in India

Staple foods of Indian cuisine include pearl millet (bajra), rice, whole-wheat flour (atta), and a variety of lentils, especially masoor (most often red lentils), toor (pigeon pea), urad (black gram), and moong (mung bean). Lentils may be used whole, dehusked—for example, dhuli moong or dhuli urad—or split. Split lentils, or dal, are used extensively.[14] Some pulses, such as channa (chickpea), Rajma or kidney beans, lobiya are very common, especially in the northern regions. Channa and mung are also processed into flour (besan).

Many Indian dishes are cooked in vegetable oil, but peanut oil is popular in northern and western India, mustard oil in eastern India,[13] and coconut oil along the western coast, especially in Kerala.[15] Gingelly (sesame) oil is common in the south since it imparts a fragrant nutty aroma.[16] In recent decades, sunflower and soybean oils have become popular across India.[17] Hydrogenated vegetable oil, known as Vanaspati ghee, is another popular cooking medium.[18] Butter-based ghee, or desi ghee, is used frequently, though less than in the past. Many types of meat are used for India cooking, but chicken and mutton tend to be the most commonly consumed meats. Fish and beef consumption are prevalent in some parts of India but they are not widely consumed.

Lentils are a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine

The most important and frequently used spices and flavourings in Indian cuisine are whole or powdered chilli pepper (mirch) (introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century), black mustard seed (sarso), cardamom (elaichi), cumin (jeera), turmeric (haldi), asafoetida (hing), ginger (adrak), coriander (dhania), and garlic (lehsun).[19] One popular spice mix is garam masala, a powder that typically includes five or more dried spices, especially cardamom, cinnamon (dalchini), and clove.[20] Each culinary region has a distinctive garam masala blend—individual chefs may also have their own. Goda masala is a comparable, though sweet, spice mix popular in Maharashtra. Some leaves commonly used for flavouring include bay (tejpat), coriander, fenugreek, and mint leaves. The use of curry leaves and roots for flavouring is typical of Gujarati[21] and South Indian cuisine.[22] Sweet dishes are often seasoned with cardamom, saffron, nutmeg, and rose petal essences.

Regional cuisines

Cuisine differs across India's diverse regions as a result of variation in local culture, geographical location (proximity to sea, desert, or mountains) and economics. It also varies seasonally, depending on which fruits and vegetables are ripe.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Seafood plays a major role in the cuisine of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[23] Since the indigenous Andamanese traditionally had very little contact with the outside world, raw fish and fruits have long been a staple diet for them. Immigration from other regions of India, however, has resulted in variations in the cuisine.

Andhra Pradesh

Pesarattu, a popular Andhra dish, served with kobbari pachadi (chutney made using coconut)

The cuisine of Andhra Pradesh belongs to two Telugu speaking regions of Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra and part of Telugu cuisine. The food of Andhra Pradesh is the part of South Indian food but known for their heavy use of spices and similar to South Indian cuisine, the use of tamarind in the food is very common. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods are both popular. Seafood is common in the coastal region of the state. Rice is the staple food eaten with lentils like dhal and sambar often with spiced vegetables or curries. Various pickles are part of local cuisine, popular among those are avakaya (a pickle made from raw mango) and gongura (a pickle made from red sorrel leaves). Yogurt is a common addition to meals, as a way of tempering spiciness. Breakfast items include dosa, vada, idli, etc.

Arunachal Pradesh

The staple food of Arunachal Pradesh is rice, along with fish, meat and leaf vegetables.[24] Many varieties of rice are used. Lettuce is the most common vegetable, usually prepared by boiling with ginger, coriander and green chillies.[25] Boiled rice cakes wrapped in leaves are a popular snack. Thukpa is a kind of noodle soup common among the Monpa tribe of the region.[26] Native tribes of Arunachal are meat eaters and use fish, eggs, beef, chicken, pork and mutton to make their dishes. Apong or rice beer made from fermented rice or millet is a popular beverage in Arunachal Pradesh and is consumed as a refreshing drink.[27]


Assamese Thali

Assamese cuisine is a mixture of different indigenous styles, with considerable regional variation and some external influences. Although it is known for its limited use of spices,[28] Assamese cuisine has strong flavours from its use of endemic herbs, fruits, and vegetables served fresh, dried or fermented. Fish is widely eaten. Other Non-vegetarian items include chickens, ducks, pigeons, snails, silkworms, insects, mutton, pork, venison, beef and turtle. The region's cuisine involves simple cooking processes, mostly barbecuing, steaming, boiling or fermenting. Bhuna, the gentle frying of spices before the addition of the main ingredients, generally common in Indian cooking, is absent in the cuisine of Assam. A traditional meal in Assam begins with a khar, a class of dishes named after the main ingredient and ends with a tenga, a sour dish. As one goes through an Assamese meal, one is taken through a range of pH, starting from acidic and ending in alkaline. Homebrewed Rice Beer or Rice Wine is served before a meal. The food is usually served in bell metal utensils.[29] Paan, the practice of chewing betel nut, generally concludes a meal.[30]


Roasted stuffed Litti from Bihar
Palak paneer, a dish made from spinach and paneer (cottage cheese)

Bihari cuisine is wholesome and simple. Litti chokha, a baked salted wheat flour cake filled with sattu (baked chickpea flour) and some special spices, is well known among the middle-class families.[31][32] Among meat dishes, Meat saalan is a popular dish made of mutton or goat curry in garam masala and cubed potatoes. Dalpuri is another popular dish in Bihar. It is salted wheatflour bread, filled with boiled, crushed and fried gram pulses. Malpua is a popular sweet dish of Bihar, prepared by a mixture of maida, milk, banana, cashew nuts, raisins, sugar, water and green cardamom. Another notable sweet dish of Bihar is Balushahi which is prepared by a specially treated combination of maida and sugar along with ghee. During the festival of Chhath, thekua, a sweet dish made of ghee, jaggery, and whole-meal flour, flavoured with aniseed, is made.[31]


Chhattisgarh cuisine uses many foods not found in the rest of India, although the staple food is rice, like in much of the country. Many Chhattisgarhi people drink liquor brewed from the Mahuwa flower.[33] The tribal people of the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh eat whatever is available: mushrooms, squirrels, bamboo pickle, bamboo vegetables, etc.[19][34]

Dadra and Nagar Haveli

The local cuisine shows resemblances with cuisine of Gujarat. Ubadiyu is a local delicacy made up of vegetables and beans with herbs. The common food includes rice, roti, vegetables, river fishes and crab. People also enjoy buttermilk and chutney made up of different fruits and herbs.[35]

Daman and Diu

Daman and Diu is a union territory of India which, like Goa, was a former colonial possession of Portugal. Consequently, both native Gujarati food and traditional Portuguese food are common. Being a coastal region, the communities are mainly dependent on seafood. Normally, Rotli and tea are taken for breakfast, Rotla and saag for lunch, and chokha along with saag and curry are taken for dinner. Some of the dishes prepared on festive occasions include puri, lapsee, potaya, dudh-plag, and dhakanu.[36] While alcohol is prohibited in the neighbouring state of Gujarat, drinking is common in Daman and Diu. All popular brands of alcohol are readily available.[37][38]


Rajma-Chawal, curried red kidney beans with steamed rice

Delhi was once the capital of the Mughal Empire, where it is the birthplace of Mughlai cuisine and is thus known for Mughlai cuisine. Delhi is noted for its street food. The Paranthewali Gali in Chandani Chowk is just one of the culinary landmarks for stuffed flatbread (Paranthas). Delhi has people from different parts of India and thus the city has different types of food traditions its cuisine is influenced by from the various cultures. Punjabi cuisine is common, due to the dominance of Punjabi communities.[39] Delhi cuisine is actually an amalgam of different Indian cuisines modified in unique ways. This is apparent in the different types of street food available. Kababs, kachauri, chaat, sweets, Indian ice cream (commonly called kulfi), and even western food items like sandwiches and patties are prepared in a style unique to Delhi and are immensely popular.[40]


Pork Vindaloo (pictured). Vindaloo is a popular curry dish in Goa and around the world.

The area has a tropical climate and the spices and flavours here are intense. Use of kokum is a distinct feature of the region's cuisine. Goan cuisine is mostly seafood and meat-based; the staple foods are rice and fish. Kingfish (Vison or Visvan) is the most common delicacy, and others include pomfret, shark, tuna, and mackerel; these are often served with coconut milk.[41] Shellfish, including crabs, prawns, tiger prawns, lobster, squid and mussels are commonly eaten. The cuisine of Goa is influenced by its Hindu origins, four hundred years of Portuguese colonialism, and modern techniques.[41][42] Bread is eaten with most of the meals. Frequent tourism in the area gives Goan food an international aspect. Brahmins belonging to Pancha Dravida are strict vegetarians.[43]


Khaman is a popular Gujarati snack.
Vegetable Handva is a salty dinner dish.

Gujarati cuisine is primarily vegetarian. The typical Gujarati thali consists of roti (rotli in Gujarati), daal or kadhi, rice, sabzi/shaak, papad and chaas (buttermilk). The sabzi is a dish of different combinations of vegetables and spices which may be stir fried, spicy or sweet.[44] Gujarati cuisine can vary widely in flavour and heat based on personal and regional tastes. North Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh, and South Gujarat are the four major regions of Gujarati cuisine.[45] Many Gujarati dishes are simultaneously sweet, salty (like Vegetable Handva), and spicy. In mango season, keri no ras (fresh mango pulp) is often an integral part of the meal. Spices also vary seasonally. For example, garam masala is used less in summer. Regular fasting, with diets limited to milk, dried fruit, and nuts, is a common practice.[46]


Cattle being common in Haryana, dairy products are a common component of its cuisine.[47][48] Specific dishes include kadhi, pakora, besan masala roti, bajra aloo roti, churma, kheer, bathua raita, methi gajar, singri ki sabzi, and tamatar chutney.

Lassi, sharbat, and nimbu pani are three popular non-alcoholic beverages in Haryana. Liquor stores are common there, which cater to a large number of truck drivers.[49]

Himachal Pradesh

The daily diet of Himachal people is similar to that of the rest of North India, including lentils, broth, rice, vegetables, and bread, although non-vegetarian cuisine is preferred. Some of the specialities of Himachal include sidu, patande, chukh, rajmah and til chutney.[50]

Jammu and Kashmir

Rogan Josh is a popular Kashmiri dish.

The cuisine of Jammu and Kashmir is from three regions of the state Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Kashmiri cuisine has evolved over hundreds of years. Its first major influence was the food of the Kashmiri Hindus and Buddhists. The cuisine was later influenced by the cultures which arrived with the invasion of Kashmir by Timur from the area of modern Uzbekistan. Subsequent influences have included the cuisines of Central Asia, Persia, and the North Indian plains. The most notable ingredient in Kashmiri cuisine is mutton, of which there are over 30 varieties.[51] Wazwan is a multicourse meal in the Kashmiri Muslim tradition, the preparation of which is considered an art.[52]

Kashmiri Pandit food is elaborate, and an important part of the Pandits' ethnic identity. Kashmiri Pandit cuisine usually uses yogurt, oils, and spices such as turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin, ginger, and fennel, though they do not use onion and garlic.[53]


Traditional Jharkhand dishes are not available at restaurants, as they have not been commercialised. Prepared exclusively in tribal regions, this cuisine uses oil and spices infrequently, except for pickle production and special occasions. Baiganee Chop, a snack made of brinjal slices or eggplant, is popular in Jharkhand. Thekua is a sweet dish made of sugar, wheat, flour and chopped coconuts. Hadia, which is made out of paddy rice is a refreshing drink.[54] A wide variety of recipes are prepared with different types of rice in Jharkhand, including recipes like Dhuska, Pittha, and different kinds of Rotis prepared with rice.


Karnataka food served on a plantain leaf
Bisi bele bath, a delicacy in Karnataka made of rice, lentils, spices and vegetables

Varieties in the cuisine of Karnataka has similarities with its three neighbouring South Indian states, as well as the states of Maharashtra and Goa to its North. Typical dishes include bisi bele bath, jolada rotti, chapati, idli vada, ragi rotti, akki rotti, saaru, huli, vangibath, khara bath, kesari bhath, benne dose, ragi mudde, and uppittu. The Kodagu district is known for spicy pork curries (pig curry)[55] while coastal Karnataka specialises in seafood. Although the ingredients differ regionally, a typical Kannadiga Oota (Kannadiga meal) is served on a banana leaf. The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi have slightly varying cuisines, which make extensive use of coconut in curries and frequently include seafood.[56][57]


Spicy fish from Kerala

Traditional Kerala food is vegetarian and includes Kerala Sadhya, which is an elaborate banquet prepared for festivals and ceremonies. Over time the cuisine has blended indigenous dishes while foreign ones have been adapted to local tastes. Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala, so grated coconut and coconut milk are commonly used for thickening and flavouring.[58] Kerala's long coastline and numerous rivers have led to a strong fishing industry in the region, making seafood a common part of the meal. Rice is grown in abundance; along with tapioca. It is the main starch ingredient used in Kerala's food.[59] Having been a major production area of spices for thousands of years, the region makes frequent use of black pepper, cardamom, clove, ginger, and cinnamon. Most of Kerala's Hindus, except its Brahmin community, eat fish, chicken, beef, pork, eggs and mutton.[60] In most Kerala households, a typical meal consists of rice, fish, and vegetables. Kerala also has a variety of breakfast dishes like idli, dosa, appam, idiyappam, puttu, and pathiri.[32] Thalassery biryani is the only biryani variant of (Malabar origin) Kerala. The dish has considerable difference when compared to the other biryani variants.[61]


The culinary influence of Kerala is quite evident in the cuisines of Lakshadweep, since the island lies in close proximity to Kerala. Coconut and sea fish serve as the foundations of most of the meals. The people of Lakshadweep drink large amounts of coconut water, which is the most abundant aerated drink on the island.[62]

Madhya Pradesh

Daal Bafla, a popular dish in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat

The cuisine in Madhya Pradesh varies regionally. Wheat and meat are common in the North and West of the state, while the wetter South and East are dominated by rice and fish. Milk is a common ingredient in Gwalior and Indore. The street food of Indore is renowned, with shops that have been active for generations.[63] Bhopal is known for meat and fish dishes such as rogan josh, korma, qeema, biryani, pilaf and kebabs. There is a street named "Chatori Gali" in old Bhopal where one can find traditional Muslim non-veg fare like Paya Soup, Bun Kabab, and Nalli-Nihari as some of the specialties.[64]

Dal bafla is a common meal in the region and can be easily found in Indore and other nearby regions, consisting of a steamed and grilled wheat cake dunked in rich ghee which is eaten with daal and ladoos. The culinary specialty of the Malwa and specially the Indore region of central Madhya Pradesh is poha (flattened rice); usually eaten at breakfast with jalebi.[65] Beverages in the region include lassi, beer, rum and sugarcane juice. A local liquor is distilled from the flowers of the mahua tree and date palm toddy is also popular. In tribal regions, a popular drink is the sap of the sulfi tree, which may be alcoholic if it has gone through fermentation.[66]


Pav Bhaji, a popular fast food originating in Maharashtra

Maharashtrian cuisine is an extensive balance of many different tastes. It includes a range of dishes from mild to very spicy tastes. Bajri, wheat, rice, jowar, vegetables, lentils, and fruit form important components of the Maharashtrian diet. Popular dishes include puran poli, ukdiche modak, batata wada, masala bhat and wada pav.[67] Shrikhand, a sweet dish made of strained yogurt, is a main dessert of Maharashtrian cuisine.[68] The cuisine of Maharashtra can be divided into two major sections—the coastal and the interior. The Konkan, on the coast of the Arabian Sea has its own type of cuisine, a homogeneous combination of Malvani, Goud Saraswat Brahmin, and Goan cuisines. In the interior of Maharashtra, the Vidarbha and Marathwada areas have their own distinct cuisines.

The cuisine of Vidarbha uses groundnuts, poppy seeds, jaggery, wheat, jowar, and bajra extensively. A typical meal consists of rice, roti, "poli" or '"Bhakar" along with "varan" or "aamtee"—lentils and spiced vegetables. Cooking is common with different types of oil. People love spicy food. Savji food from Vidharbh is well known all over Maharashtra. Like other coastal states, there is an enormous variety of vegetables, fish and coconuts, where they are common ingredients. Peanuts and cashews are often served with vegetables. Grated coconuts are used to flavour many types of dishes, but coconut oil is not widely used; peanut oil is preferred.[69] Kokum, most commonly served chilled, in an appetiser-digestive called sol kadhi, is prevalent. During summer, Maharashtrians consume panha, a drink made from raw mango.[70][71]


A non-veg type Eromba from Manipur

Manipuri cuisine typically features spicy foods that use chili pepper rather than garam masala. The staple diet consists of rice, leafy vegetables, and fish. About 60 years ago most of the Valley people did not eat meat except fish because of Hinduism. But in the pre-Hinduism era, the valley people and the hill people had similar food habits. Meats like chicken and pork are popular in both valleys and hills. Other special delicacies include snails, crabs, eels, etc. A large variety of vegetables are eaten as well as leaves and herbs. Bamboo shoots are eaten both fresh and fermented. Fermented dry fish, locally known as ngari, is very popular and is used in almost every dish prepared. Fermented soybeans are also popular. Another popular dish is kangsoi which is a soup of potatoes, tomatoes, dried fish and other vegetables, prepared without spices. The hill people eat beef and the Muslim Pangals eat mutton. Fruits, especially citrus fruits, are also very popular.[72] Manipuris typically raise vegetables in kitchen gardens[73] and rear fish in small ponds around their homes. The Umarok is a very popular chili in the area, also known by names such as naga jolokia or "ghost chili" (in US media).[74][75]


Meghalayan cuisine is unique and different from other northeastern Indian states.[76] Spiced meat is common, from goats, pigs, fowl, ducks, and cows. In the Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts, common foods include jadoh, ki kpu, tung-rymbai, and pickled bamboo shoots. Other common foods in Meghalaya include minil songa (steamed sticky rice), sakkin gata, and momo dumplings. Like other tribes in the northeast, the Garos ferment rice beer, which they consume in religious rites and secular celebrations.[77]


The cuisine of Mizoram differs from that of most of India, though it shares characteristics to other regions of North East India and North India. Rice is the staple food of Mizoram while Mizos love to add non-vegetarian ingredient in every dish. Fish, chicken, pork and duck are popular meat among Mizos. Dishes are served on fresh banana leaves. Most of the dishes are cooked in mustard oil. Meals tend to be less spicy than in most of India. A popular dish is bai, made from boiling spinach with pork and bamboo shoots and served with rice. Sawchair is another common dish, made of rice and cooked with pork or chicken.[78][79]


Dried fish, prawns, ghost chili and preserved colocasia leaf
Dried fish, prawns, ghost chili, and preserved colocasia leaves are common ingredients in Naga cuisine

The cuisine of Nagaland reflects that of the Naga people. It is known for exotic pork meats cooked with simple and flavourful ingredients,[32] like the extremely hot bhut jolokia pepper, fermented bamboo shoots and soya beans. The Naga use oil sparingly, preferring to ferment, dry, and smoke their meats and fish. Traditional homes in Nagaland have external kitchens that serve as smokehouses.[80]


Chungdi Jhola (ଚିଙ୍ଗୁଡି ଝୋଳ) is a spicy gravy based prawn curry of Odisha State with different flavors of spices.

The cuisine of Odisha relies heavily on local ingredients. Flavours are usually subtle and delicately spiced, unlike the spicy curries typically associated with Indian cuisine. Fish and other seafood, such as crab and shrimp, are very popular, and chicken and mutton are also consumed. Panch phutana, a mix of cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek and kalonji (nigella) is widely used for flavouring vegetables and dals,[81] while garam masala and turmeric are commonly used for meat-based curries. Pakhala, a dish made of rice, water, and yogurt, that is fermented overnight, is very popular in summer in rural areas.[82] Oriyas are very fond of sweets, so dessert follows most meals. Few popular Oriya cuisines, Anna, Kanika, Dalma, Khata (Tamato & Oou), Dali (Different types of lentils, i.e. Harada (Red Gram) known as Arhar in Hindi, Muga (Moong), Kolatha (Horsegram) etc. And many more varieties both in Veg. (Niramisha) & Non-Veg. (Aamisha).


The union territory of Puducherry was a French colony for around 200 years, making French cuisine a strong influence on the area. Tamil cuisine is followed by majority of the people as it's major population is Tamil. The influence of the neighbouring areas, such as Andhra Pradesh and Kerala is also visible on the territory's cuisine. Some favourite dishes include coconut curry, tandoori potato, soya dosa, podanlangkai, curried vegetables, stuffed cabbage, and baked beans.[83]


Tandoori chicken is a popular grilled dish.

The cuisine of Punjab is known for its diverse range of dishes. Punjabi cuisine is not different from other cuisines in the sense that most of the cuisine is inspired by the Central Asian and Mughlai cuisines since it was the entering spot for the Muslim invaders. Home-cooked and restaurant Punjabi cuisine can vary significantly. Restaurant-style Punjabi cooking uses large amounts of ghee, butter and cream, while home-cooked equivalents center around whole wheat, rice, and other ingredients flavoured with masala.[84] Regional differences also exist in Punjabi cuisine. For example, people of Amritsar prefer stuffed paratha and dairy products. Ambar Panjabi of Amritsar created the well known lentil and bean sprout curry which swept the nation with its zesty flavor and texture.[85] Certain dishes are exclusive to Punjab, such as makke di roti and sarson da saag.[84] The main masala in a Punjabi dish consists of onion, garlic and ginger. Much of this food was made to meet the demands of traditional Punjabi lifestyle, with high calorie counts to support rural workers. Tandoori food is a Punjabi speciality, especially with non-vegetarian dishes.[86]

Many of the most popular elements of Anglo-Indian cuisine, such as tandoori foods, naan, pakoras and vegetable dishes with paneer, are derived from Punjabi styles.[87]


Rajasthani thali
Kadhi, a spicy north Indian dish

Cooking in Rajasthan, an arid region, has been strongly shaped by the availability of ingredients. Because water is at a premium, food is generally cooked in milk or ghee, making it quite rich. Gram flour is a mainstay of Marwari food mainly due to the scarcity of vegetables in the area.[88]

Historically, food that could last for several days and be eaten without heating was preferred. Major dishes of a Rajasthani meal may include daal-baati, tarfini, raabdi, Ghevar, bail-gatte, panchkoota, chaavadi, laapsi, kadhi and boondi. Typical snacks include bikaneri bhujia, mirchi bada, Pyaaj Kachori, and Dal Kachori.

Daal-baati is the most popular dish prepared in the state. It is usually supplemented with choorma, a mixture of finely grinded baked rotis, sugar and ghee.[32]


In Sikkim, various ethnic groups such as the Nepalese, Bhutias, and Lepchas have their own distinct cuisines. Nepalese cuisine is very popular in this area. Rice is the staple food of the area, and meat and dairy products are also widely consumed. For centuries, traditional fermented foods and beverages have constituted about 20 percent of the local diet. Depending on altitudinal variation, finger millet, wheat, buckwheat, barley, vegetable, potato, and soybeans are grown. Dhindo, Dal bhat, Gundruk, Momo, gya thuk, ningro, phagshapa and sel roti are some of the local dishes. Alcoholic drinks are consumed by both men and women. Beef is eaten by the Bhutias.[89]


Sindhi cuisine refers to the native cuisine of the Sindhi people from the Sindh region, now in Pakistan. While Sindh is not geographically a part of modern India, its food is there,[90] where a sizeable number of Sindhi people who are Hindu by religion migrated following the independence of Pakistan in 1947, especially in Sindhi enclaves such as Ulhasnagar and Gandhidam. A typical meal in most Sindhi households consists of wheat-based flatbread (phulka) and rice accompanied by two dishes, one with gravy and one dry. Lotus stem (known as kamal kakri) is also used in Sindhi dishes. Cooking vegetables by deep frying is a common practice that is followed. Sindhi cuisine is mostly influenced by Punjab and Gujarat. Some common ingredients used are mango powder, tamarind, kokum flowers, and dried pomegranate seeds.[91]

Tamil Nadu

Veg Meals in Tamil Nadu traditionally served in banana leaf
Dosa served with Sambar and chutney

Tamil Nadu is noted for its deep belief that serving food to others is a service to humanity, as is common in many regions of India. The region has a rich cuisine involving both traditional non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes. Tamil food is characterised by its use of rice, legumes, and lentils, along with distinct aromas and flavours achieved by the blending of spices such as curry leaves, tamarind, coriander, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, coconut and rose water. The traditional way of eating a meal involves being seated on the floor, having the food served on a banana leaf, and using clean fingers of the right hand to transfer the food to the mouth. After the meal, the fingers are washed, and the banana leaf becomes food for cows. A meal (called Saapadu) consists of rice with other typical Tamil dishes on a banana leaf. A typical Tamilian would eat in banana leaf as it gives different flavour and taste to the food. But it can also be served on a stainless steel tray - plate with a selection of different dishes in small bowls. Tamil food is characterised by tiffins, which is a light food taken for breakfast or dinner, and meals which are usually taken during lunch. The word "curry" is derived from the Tamil kari, meaning something similar to "sauce".[92][93] The southern regions such as Tirunelveli, Madurai, Karaikudi, and Chettinad are noted for their spicy non-vegetarian dishes.[94][95] Dosa, idli and Pongal are some of the popular dishes and are eaten with chutney and sambar. Fish and other seafoods are also very popular here being a coastal state.


Hyderabadi Biryani from the city of Hyderabad

Cuisine of Telangana is a blend of Telugu cuisine along with Hyderabadi cuisine (also known as Nizami cuisine).[96][97] Hyderabadi food is based heavily on non-vegetarian ingredients and Telugu food is a mix of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients. Telugu food is rich in spices and chillies are abundantly used. The food also generally tends to be more on the tangy side with tamarind and lime juice both used liberally as souring agents. Rice is the staple food of Telugu people. Starch is consumed with a variety of curries and lentil soups or broths.[98][99] Vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods are both popular. Hyderabadi cuisine includes popular delicacies such as Biryani, Hyderabadi Haleem, Baghara baingan and kheema.[98] Various pickles are part of local cuisine, popular among those are gongura (a pickle made from red sorrel leaves).[100] Yogurt is a common addition to meals, as a way of tempering spiciness.[101] Breakfast items include dosa and vada.


A bowl of thukpa

The Tripuri people are the original inhabitants of the state of Tripura in northeast India. Today, they comprise the communities of Tipra, Reang, Jamatia, Noatia, and Uchoi among others. The Tripuri are non-vegetarian,[102] although they have a minority of Vaishnavite vegetarians.[103] The major ingredients of Tripuri cuisine include pork, chicken, mutton, turtle, fish, shrimps, crabs, and frogs.

Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradeshi thali (platter) with naan, daal, raita, gul paneer, and salad
Poha, a popular North Indian breakfast dish

Traditionally, Uttar Pradeshi cuisine consists of Awadhi and Mughlai cuisine,[9] though a vast majority of the state is vegetarian, preferring dal, roti, sabzi, and rice. Pooris and kachoris are eaten on special occasions. Chaat, samosa and pakora, among the most popular snacks in India, originate from Uttar Pradesh.[19][104] Well known dishes include kebabs, dum biryani, and various mutton recipes. Sheer Qorma, Ghevar, Gulab Jamun, Kheer, and Ras Malai are some of the popular desserts in this region.

Awadhi cuisine (Hindi: अवधी खाना, Urdu: اودھی کھانا‎) is from the city of Lucknow, which is the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in Central-South Asia and Northern India, and the cooking patterns of the city are similar to those of Central Asia, the Middle East, and Northern India as well. The cuisine consists of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Awadh has been greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques, and the cuisine of Lucknow bears similarities to those of Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and Hyderabad; and the city is known for Nawabi foods. The bawarchis and rakabdars of Awadh gave birth to the dum style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire, which has become synonymous with Lucknow today.[105] Their spread consisted of elaborate dishes like kebabs, kormas, biryani, kaliya, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and warqi parathas. The richness of Awadh cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer, and rich spices including cardamom and saffron.

Mughlai cuisine is a style of cooking developed in the Indian subcontinent by the imperial kitchens of the Mughal Empire. It represents the cooking styles used in North India (especially Uttar Pradesh). The cuisine is strongly influenced by the Persian cuisine of Iran, and has in turn had strong similarities to the regional cuisines of Kashmir and the Punjab region. The tastes of Mughlai cuisine vary from extremely mild to spicy, and is often associated with a distinctive aroma and the taste of ground and whole spices.[106] A Mughlai course is an elaborate buffet of main course dishes with a variety of accompaniments.[107]


Saag, a popular Kumauni dish from Uttarakhand is made from any of the various green vegetables like spinach and fenugreek.

The food from Uttrakhand is known to be healthy and wholesome to suit the high-energy necessities of the cold, mountainous region. It is a high protein diet that makes heavy use of pulses, soybeans and vegetables. Traditionally it is cooked over wood or charcoal fire mostly in iron utensils. While also making use of condiments such as jeera, haldi and rai common in other Indian cuisines, Uttarakhand cuisine uses some exotic condiments like jambu, timmer, ghandhraini and bhangira. Similarly, although the people in Uttarakhand also prepare the dishes common in other parts of northern India, several preparations are unique to Uttarakhand tradition such as rus, chudkani, dubuk, chadanji, jholi, kapa, etc. Among dressed salads and sauces, kheere ka raita, nimbu mooli ka raita, daarim ki khatai and aam ka fajitha necessarily deserve a mention. The cuisine mainly consists of food from two different sub regions—Garhwal and Kumaon—though their basic ingredients are the same.[108] Both the Kumaoni and Garhwali styles make liberal use of ghee, lentils or pulses, vegetables and bhaat (rice). They also use Badi (sun-dried Urad Dal balls) and Mungodi (sun-dried Moong Dal balls) as substitutes for vegetables at times. During festivals and other celebrations, the people of Uttarakhand prepare special refreshments which include both salty preparations such as bada and sweet preparations such as pua and singal. Uttarakhand also has several sweets (mithai) such as singodi, bal-mithai, malai laddu, etc. native to its tradition.

West Bengal

Bengali authentic full meal

Bengali cuisine is the only traditionally developed multi-course tradition from the Indian subcontinent that is analogous in structure to the modern service à la russe style of French cuisine, with food served course-wise rather than all at once. Bengali cuisine has a high emphasis on chilli pepper, along with mustard oil, and tends to use high amounts of spices altogether. The cuisine is known for subtle flavours with an emphasis on fish, vegetables, lentils, and rice.[32] Bread is not a common dish in Bengali cuisine but a deep fried version called luchi is popular. Fresh sweetwater fish is one of its most distinctive features; Bengalis prepare fish in many ways, such as steaming, braising, or stewing in vegetables and sauces based on coconut milk or mustard. East Bengali food, which has a high presence in West Bengal and Bangladesh, is much spicier than the West Bengali cuisine, and tends to use high amounts of chilli, and is one of the spiciest cuisines in India and the World. Shondesh and Rasgulla are popular sweet dishes made of sweetened, finely ground fresh cheese. The cuisine is found in the states of Tripura, the Barak Valley of Assam, and West Bengal itself.

Fusion cuisines

The interaction of various Indian diaspora communities with the native cultures of their domiciles have resulted in the creation of many fusion cuisines, which blend aspects of Indian and foreign cuisines. These cuisines tend to adapt Indian seasoning and cooking techniques to foreign dishes.

Indian Chinese cuisine

Indian Chinese cuisine originated in the 19th century among the Chinese community of Calcutta, during the immigration of Hakka Chinese from Canton (present-day Guangzhou) seeking to escape the First and Second Opium Wars and political instability in the region.[109] Upon exposure to local Indian cuisine, they incorporated many spices and cooking techniques into their own cuisine, thus creating a unique fusion of Indian and Chinese cuisine.[109] After 1947, many Cantonese immigrants fleeing political repression under Mao Zedong, opened their own restaurants in Calcutta, whose dishes combined aspects of Indian cuisine with Cantonese cuisine.[110] While Indian Chinese cuisine is heavily derived from traditional Chinese cuisine, it bears little resemblance to its Chinese counterpart.[110] The dishes tend to be flavoured with cumin, coriander seeds, and turmeric, which with a few regional exceptions, are not traditionally associated with Chinese cuisine.[111] Chilli, ginger, garlic and yogurt are also frequently used in dishes.[111]

Popular dishes include Chicken Manchurian, Chicken lollipop, Chilli chicken, Hakka noodles, Hunan chicken, Chowmein and Szechwan fried rice. Soups such as Manchow soup and Sweetcorn soup are very popular, whereas desserts include ice cream on honey-fried noodles and date pancakes. Chowmein is now known as one of the most favorite Chinese dishes in India. Specially in West Bengal it one of most loved street foods. Bari-Maidan of Burnpur and "Court More" area of Asansol is known for its Chowmein.

Malaysian Indian cuisine

Indian Singaporean cuisine

Indian Singaporean cuisine refers to food and beverages produced and consumed in Singapore that are derived, wholly or in part, from South Asian culinary traditions. The great variety of Singapore food includes Indian food, which tends to be Tamil cuisine and especially local Tamil Muslim cuisine, although North Indian food has become more visible recently. Indian dishes have become modified to different degrees, after years of contact with other Singapore cultures, and in response to locally available ingredients as well as changing local tastes.

Anglo-Indian cuisine


Many Indian sweets, or mithai, are fried foods made with sugar, milk or condensed milk. Ingredients vary by region. In the eastern part of India, for example, most sweets are based on milk products. See sections or articles on specific regional cuisines for their preferred types of sweets.

Some common Indian sweets and desserts include:

  • Barfi: A sweet made of dried milk with ground cashews or pistachios, often served with a thin layer of edible silver foil as decoration.[112]
  • Chikki: A sweet made out of peanuts and molasses.[113]
  • Gulab jamun: A dessert consisting of fried milk balls soaked in sweet syrup, such as rose syrup or honey.[48]
  • Jalebi: Dough fried in a coil shape dipped in sugar syrup, often taken with milk, tea, yogurt, or lassi.[114]
  • Mysore pak: A sweet dish of Karnataka, made of generous amounts of ghee (clarified butter), sugar and gram flour.
  • Jauzi Halwa: Once upon a time, this was the Nizam of Hyderabad's favourite sweet. Made from germinated wheat milk and khoya, this sweet is elegantly flavoured with nutmeg and saffron.[115]
  • Kulfi: An Indian ice cream in a variety of flavours such as mango, saffron, or cardamom.[116]
  • Kheer: A sweet rice pudding, usually made with rice and milk[19]
  • Malpoa: A type of pancake, made of wheat or rice flour, deep fried and dipped in sugar syrup.[117]
  • Rasgulla: A popular sweetmeat, produced by boiling small balls of casein in sugar syrup.
  • Sandesh: A sweet made from cheese, kneaded with fine ground sugar and molasses.[48]
  • Shrikhand: A creamy dessert made out of strained yogurt, often served with dried fruits such as mangoes.[118]
  • Kaju Katli: Similar to barfi, mainly comprises cashew powder along with ghee, cardamom powder and sugar.[119]
  • Rabri: Rabri is a sweet, condensed milk based dish made by boiling the milk on low heat for a long time until it becomes dense and changes its color to pinkish. Sugar, spices and nuts are added for flavour. It is chilled and served as dessert.[120]


Non-alcoholic beverages

While masala tea (left) is a staple beverage across majority of India, Indian filter coffee (right) is especially popular in southern India.[121][122]
Lassi served at an Indian restaurant
Standard faluda from Hyderabad with kulfi, rose syrup, tapioca pearls and basil seeds

Tea is a staple beverage throughout India since India is one of the largest producers of Tea in the world. The popular varieties of tea grown in India are the Assam tea, Darjeeling tea and Nilgiri tea. It is prepared by boiling the tea leaves in a mix of water, milk, and spices such as cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. In India, tea is often enjoyed with snacks like biscuits and pakoda.

Coffee is another popular beverage but more popular in South India. Coffee is also cultivated in some parts of India. There are two varieties of coffee popular in India, the Indian filter coffee and the Instant coffee.

Lassi is a traditional yogurt-based drink in India.[123] It is made by blending yogurt with water or milk and spices. Salted lassi is more common in villages of Punjab and in Porbandar, Gujarat. Traditional lassi is sometimes flavoured with ground roasted cumin. Lassi can also be flavoured with ingredients such as sugar, rosewater, lemon, strawberry, and saffron.[124]

Sharbat is a sweet cold beverage prepared from fruits or flower petals.[125] It can be served in concentrate form and eaten with a spoon, or diluted with water to create a drink. Popular sharbats are made from plants such as rose, sandalwood, bel, gurhal (hibiscus), lemon, orange, pineapple, and falsa (Grewia asiatica). In Ayurveda, sharbats are believed to hold medicinal value.[126]

Other beverages include nimbu pani (lemonade), chaas, badam doodh (almond milk with nuts and cardamom), and coconut water. Cold drinks unique to southern India include beverages known as "Panner Soda" or "Gholi Soda", which mixtures of carbonated water, rosewater, and sugar and rose milk.

Alcoholic beverages


Bastar Beer prepared from Sulfi

Most beers in India are either lagers (4.8 percent alcohol) or strong lagers (8.9 percent). The Indian beer industry has witnessed steady growth of 10–17 percent per year over the last ten years. Production exceeded 170 million cases during the 2008–2009 financial year.[127] With the average age of the population decreasing and income levels on the rise, the popularity of beer in the country continues to increase.


Other popular alcoholic drinks in India include fenny, a Goan liquor made from either coconut or the juice of the cashew apple. The state of Goa has registered for a geographical indicator to allow its fenny distilleries to claim exclusive rights to production of liquor under the name "fenny."[128]

Hadia is a rice beer, created by mixing herbs with boiled rice and leaving the mixture to ferment for around a week. It is served cool and is less alcoholic than other Indian country liquors. Chuak is a similar drink from Tripura. Palm wine, locally known as Neera, is a sap extracted from inflorescences of various species of toddy palms.[129] Chhaang is consumed by the people of Sikkim and the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region of West Bengal. It is drunk at room temperature in summer, and often hot in cold weather. Chhaang is similar to traditional beer, brewed from barley, millet, or rice.[130]

Eating habits

Paan is often eaten after dinner.

Indians consider a healthy breakfast important. They generally prefer to drink tea or coffee with breakfast, though food preferences vary regionally. North Indian people prefer roti, parathas, and a vegetable dish, accompanied by achar (pickles) and some curd.[131] People of western India prefer dhokla and milk and South Indians prefer idlis and dosas, generally accompanied by various chutneys.[132]

Lunch in India usually consists of a main dish of rice in the south and east, or whole wheat rotis in the north and west. It typically includes two or three kinds of vegetables, and sometimes items such as kulcha, naan, or parathas. Along with dessert, paan (betel leaves), which aid digestion, are often eaten after lunch in parts of India.[19]

Indian families often gather for "evening breakfast," similar to tea time to talk, drink tea and eat snacks. Dinner is considered as the main meal of the day.[133]

Dietary restrictions

There are many dietary restrictions that people follow based on the religion or faith they profess. Many Hindu communities consider beef taboo. Since it is believed that Hindu scriptures condemn cow slaughter, beef consumption has been banned in many states in India.[134] Followers of [136]


Traditionally, meals in India were eaten while seated either on the floor or on very low stools or cushions. Food is most often eaten with the right hand rather than cutlery. The left hand is used to serve oneself when the courses are not served by the host. Often roti is used to scoop curry without allowing it to touch the hand. In the wheat-producing north, a piece of roti is gripped with the thumb and middle finger and ripped off while holding the roti down with the index finger. A somewhat different method is used in the south for the dosai, the adai, and the uththappam, where the middle finger is pressed down to hold the crepe down and the forefinger and thumb used to grip and separate a small part. Traditional serving styles vary regionally throughout India.

Contact with other cultures has affected Indian dining etiquette. For example, the Anglo-Indian middle class commonly uses spoons and forks, as is traditional in Western culture.[137]

In South India, cleaned banana leaves, which can be disposed of after meals, are used for serving food. When hot food is served on banana leaves, the leaves add distinctive aromas and taste to the food.[9] Leaf plates are less common today, except on special occasions.

Outside of India

Indian migration has spread the culinary of traditions of the subcontinent throughout the world. These cuisines have been adapted to local tastes, and have also affected local cuisines. Curry's international appeal has been compared to that of pizza.[138] Indian tandoor dishes such as chicken tikka enjoy widespread popularity.[139]


As in the United Kingdom and the United States, Indian cuisine is widely available in Canada, especially in the cities of Toronto[140] and Vancouver,[141] where the majority of Canadians of South Asian heritage live.


Indian food is gaining popularity in China, where there are many Indian restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Hong Kong alone has more than 50 Indian restaurants, some of which date back to the 1980s. Most of the Indian restaurants in Hong Kong are in Tsim Sha Tsui.[142]

Middle East

The Indian cuisine scene in the Middle East has been influenced greatly by the large Indian diaspora in these countries. Centuries of trade relations and cultural exchange resulted in a significant influence on each region's cuisines, the most notable being the Biryani.[117][143] It was introduced by Persian invaders into Northern India and has since become an integral part of the Mughlai cuisine and also the use of the Tandoor which originated in northwestern India.[144] The large influx of Indian expatriates into the Middle Eastern countries during the 1970s and 1980s led to the booming of Indian restaurants to cater to this population and was also widely influenced by the local and international cuisines.


Indian cuisine is available in the streets of cities including Kathmandu and Janakpur where the majority of Indians live.

Southeast Asia

An Indian restaurant in Singapore

Indian cuisine is very popular in Southeast Asia, due to the strong Hindu and Buddhist cultural influence in the region. Indian cuisine has had considerable influence on Malaysian cooking styles[7] and also enjoys popularity in Singapore.[145][146] There are numerous North and South Indian restaurants in Singapore, mostly in Little India. Singapore is also known for fusion cuisine combining traditional Singaporean cuisine with Indian cuisines. Fish head curry for example, is a local creation. Indian influence on Malay cuisine dates to the 19th century.[147] Other cuisines which borrow inspiration from Indian cooking styles include Filipino, Vietnamese, Indonesian,[148] Thai,[149] and Burmese. The spread of vegetarianism in other parts of Asia is often credited to Hindu and Buddhist practices.[150]

United Kingdom

Chicken tikka masala, a modified version of Indian chicken tikka, has been called "a true British national dish."[151]

In 2003, there were as many as 10,000 restaurants serving Indian cuisine in England and Wales alone. According to Britain's Food Standards Agency, the Indian food industry in the United Kingdom is worth 3.2 billion pounds, accounts for two-thirds of all eating out and serves about 2.5 million customers every week.[152]

Anglo-Indian restaurants adapt traditional Indian food for British tastes, which are commonly less accustomed to strong spices. The best known example of this is Chicken tikka masala, which has also been called "a true British national dish.".[151]

United States

A survey by The Washington Post in 2007 stated that more than 1,200 Indian food products had been introduced into the United States since 2000.[153] There are numerous Indian restaurants across the US, which vary based on regional culture and climate. North Indian and South Indian cuisines are especially well represented.[154] Most Indian restaurants in the United States serve Americanized versions of North Indian food, which is generally less spicy than its South Indian equivalents.

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  • Pat Chapman. India: Food & Cooking, New Holland, London — ISBN 978-1-84537-619-2 (2007)

External links

  • Indian cuisine at DMOZ
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