This isolation of India is reflected in the regional nature of Indian
cuisine. Each region made use of the produce that grew locally,
particularly spices, and these dishes have developed their own
particular characteristics and flavours.
Other factors, aside from
regionalism, have influenced the development of
recipes. Over the
centuries India has been invaded by many nations, each of which has made
a contribution to the style of cookery. The Persian influence, brought
to India by the invading Mughals, is particularly marked in northern
India, where the dishes are characterised by their delicate flavours and
smooth sauces. These textures and tastes are achieved by the addition of
coconut and milk or cream, and the use of dried fruit and nuts. The
Kashmiris, too, made a notable contribution with their use 4'sAiron and
other rare spices. Persian, Greek, Roman, Mongol, Portuguese and British
are among the many other cultures that have both given to and learned
from the cookery of India.
It is almost impossible to separate the
development of Indian cuisine from the religious influences that have
shaped the nation. Muslims, for instance, are prohibited from eating
pork, and the consumption of beef is strictly forbidden by Hindus, as
the cow is thought of as a sacred animal. Indeed, high caste Hindus in
many parts of India are bound by their religion to be vegetarian.
despite such obvious differences, similar attitudes to food are
prevalent throughout India. A selection of dishes is usually served at
an Indian meal and these are accompanied by a variety of breads and
rice. Traditionally, six rasas or flavours — sweet, salty, bitter,
astringent, sour and pungent — should be included in every meal. Each of
these flavours is believed to have a health benefit of its own, and
should be included in a meal in a specific ratio to the other flavours.
Indian cooks have long recognised that spices have a value beyond merely
flavouring food, and have used these properties to full effect. Spices
have a place in Indian cookery both as appetite stimulators and as
digestives. Great care, however, is taken to ensure that the spices used
in cooking complement, rather than overpower each other.
here cover some of the principal styles of Indian cooking, and give an
introduction to the techniques needed to create them. The carefully
selected recipes reflect the Indian love of food and give you ideas of
how to create and serve authentic Indian dishes.