Indian Spice and Everything Nice!
It is often said "to know where you're going you must know where you've been". Discover the history of Indian cuisine by the spoonfuls. "Dull" or " boring" aren't considered with the likes of Indian cuisine. This is in part due to the flavors that have developed over thousands of years. Each layer of spice has a story to tell, here is a little bit about how the cuisine has gotten where it is today.
Using What You Have.
Like all civilizations, those in the Indus valley used what had provided them. The soil rich land has since provided its natives with legumes, rice, herbs, wheat and more. Grass was also rich for the cows to graze. Dairy is a prominent part of Indian cuisine, then and now. These whole ingredients are the base of almost every Indian dish. Most main platters with rice (chawal) or bread (roti). Before the time of silverware and utensils, rice and bread were used to eat. In modern day Bengal, you see the fine art of using your hands is still popular. Scoop rice with three fingers while using the thumb to slide the dal or mutton into one bite. Practice makes perfect!
Near and Far.
India is a large country, but what's impressive is the number of cuisines they fit into it! With
the varying settlers and rulers with their different sets of beliefs, state cuisines are the cultural fabric of Indian food. Hindus practice vegetarian lifestyles, Muslim eat halal meat, and Sikhs love eggs. Indians practice a variety of diets. In the southern regions of India, rice is most celebrated with dishes like Puliyogare, Idli, and Dosa. To think rice is boiled and served would be a huge mistake. Fermentation, fried, and soaked in milk are all common rice preparations in India. Roti/bread includes variations like Chapati, Naan, and Paratha. Northern regions of India that favor bread include Delhi with Rumali Roti and Kulcha in Punjab. The variations of Roti deserve a post of its own-stay tuned!
Indian food in America.
Much of what we know in America about Indian cuisine are curry. Curry is actually British and not at all Indian, but Masala and Karahi are. Disguised as "Lamb Curry" or "Mixed Veggie Curry" on a menu, are Indian Sabzis. These spicy, saucy wonders are about as exotic as it can get for the American palate. Cooking Indian food can call for a long ingredient list. Some of these items are rarely held in an American kitchen. To become the next great Indian-American chef discover the power of pre-made Masala's. These boxes of spice mix are the secret to any Indian dish in America. Yogurt is often served as a great cooling agent to temper any dish that is too spicy. In fact, having had only savory yogurt in India, I was surprised to see sweet yogurts more popular in America - leading to the creation of Prayani Indian Savory Yogurts.
Don't be afraid to explore.
The Indian Spice trade was the greatest influence on the world of food and eating. Today travelling by camel, or trading gold will not be necessary to enjoy these sought-after flavors. Understanding the history of Indian cuisine brings about great appreciation for its misunderstood flavors. Like its spices, Indian cuisine calls its eaters to be a bit bold.