Indian Food - Guide to Indian Meals, Curries & Indian Sweets
Indian food is very unique, not just taste-wise but in the way the meals are cooked and its structure. The amount of flavours and textures found in Indian cuisine is in part due to the influences of other civilisations that have contributed their ways and flavours to create the current form of cuisine. Hence it reflects the different cultures through the ages.
The cuisine differs significantly between regions, with different areas being influenced by varying civilisations and local produce. Typically the northern states of India reflect Asian influences with classic dishes being somewhat richer and creamier than other regions. Southern states make the most of their spices, coconut and seafood ingredients making the classic dishes of dosa, sambhar and coconut chutney.
Indian food is fantastically expressed with brilliant colours, flavours, aromas and textures. Although rice is the staple part of the meal, the curries, soups and meat add extreme flavours to your taste buds thanks to the range of spices used.
Although the majority of Indians are vegetarians, they still create incredible meat dishes such as tandoori and many fish dishes in coastal areas. You can expect vegetables to be served at main meals created using different methods while often you can enjoy the wonders of Indian sweets for those of us with a sweet tooth. Some favourites are barfi, a fudge-like sweet and jalebis, which is a deep-fried batter of sorts, dipped in syrup and served while it’s hot. So there is a lot to look forward to cuisine wise on your Indian adventure, so make sure you take your adventurous taste buds with you!
So the next step is to find places that will give you the best experience. There is a vast range of restaurants from the cheap roadside eateries to the more upmarket dining facilities. However don’t get caught up in the westerners idea of fast-food, as arguably some of India’s best food can be served in these places. One thing to be wary of is street food as hygiene could be an issue. The best bet for street vendors is go for the ones that are most popular with the locals (the ones with the longest line) providing a good sign of the food’s quality. Exercise caution when faced with good looking fruit, especially those which are pre-sliced and are not able to be peeled. A general rule is if you cannot peel or cook it, don’t go near it.
In the Indian culture, it is normal to have three meals a day which involves a light breakfast, a sizeable lunch and dinner being the main meal of the day. Often dinners can be served quite late in the day, sometimes as late as 9pm. You should always wash your hands before and after eating and try to eat only with your right hand.
Water is a great necessity while exploring India especially during the summer months as it is vital you stay hydrated. Water-borne diseases are very common so being safe with the water you drink is very important. So never drink tap water, only sealed bottled water should be had and avoid ice seeing as it could have been made from tap water. You can use water filters or iodine also to purify the water.
Popular Indian drinks:
Chai tea – served with plenty of milk and sugar
Masala soda – Indian style of soft drink usually dosed with lime, spices, salt and sugar
Lassi – a delicious yoghurt based drink, often served with curries
Falooda – a rose flavoured milky drink with nuts and strands of vermicelli
There are a few things to be careful with when dabbling in alcohol. It is advisable to only buy and drink alcohol that is bought from a reliable place as some instances have occurred where the drinker has become blinded after drinking a contaminated mahua (a clear spirit) spiked with methyl alcohol. Most of the upmarket bars in India serve the international brands you are likely to be familiar with such as Heineken.
USEFUL WORDS FOR EATING OUT
I’d like the …please – muje…chaahiya
Tea – chai
Rice – chawal
Flavoured ice-cream – kulfi