India’s national must-try dishes
In fact, if you prepare material on the topic of Indian cuisine, you will get an impressive multi-volume edition. The local cuisine is so multifaceted and varied that it is hardly possible to try at least a tenth of the national dishes in one visit to India. Each state has a huge variety of dishes that can be tasted only here. Only at first glance it may seem that Indian dishes taste the same – just spicy, but believe me, there are many treats without spices, exquisite desserts and drinks in the national cuisine.
General information about Indian cuisine
The country has preserved certain national features and traditions of Indian cuisine – here they give priority to vegetables, a huge variety of spices, along with this you will not find beef on the menu. A vegetarian will certainly feel in a gastronomic paradise in India. The locals don’t eat meat or even fish.
Interesting fact! About 40% of the residents eat only food of plant origin.
In the past, various recipes were introduced into Indian cuisine by the Mongols and Muslims. Besides, the peculiarities of national dishes of Indian cuisine were influenced by the religious views of the inhabitants – more than 80% of the local population profess Hinduism, which excludes any violence. The essence of religion is that any living being is spiritual, containing a divine particle. That is why most people in India are vegetarians, but at the same time Indian national dishes have a rich, bright taste, spicy, oily.
Since we are talking about vegetarianism within a particular state, a huge variety of treats from cereals, vegetables, legumes appeared in the local cuisine. The most famous is sabji, a vegetable stew with lentils seasoned with various spices. It is eaten with rice, bread flatbread.
Good to know! In India, it is customary to use long-grain basmati rice. As for legumes, there are more than one hundred varieties of peas alone, chickpeas, lentils, mung bean, dal are also popular.
A separate volume in the encyclopedia of traditional Indian cuisine must be devoted to spices and flavorings. By the way, it is not only a spice, but also the name of an Indian dish with bright orange color. It is this spice that gives the treat a thick aroma and a unique taste.
There are many spices mixed in the curry and it would be very difficult to list them all, probably the Indians themselves would not be able to name the recipe exactly. It is known for certain that it contains: cayenne, red and black pepper, cardamom, ginger, coriander, paprika, cloves, cumin and nutmeg. Although the composition of curry may vary, turmeric is invariably present. It is noteworthy that Indian families have a personal recipe for making curry, it is carefully passed down from generation to generation.
It is not customary in India to bake bread the way it is baked in Europe. They serve flatbread or thin pita bread. The traditional Indian dish is called chapati and accompanies every meal from the first course to dessert.
The recipe is simple enough, every housewife can repeat it – mix coarse flour, salt, water, fry tortillas without oil (if cooking outdoors, use an open fire). The finished tortilla resembles a ball, because it is bloated, vegetables, legumes are added inside, eaten simply with sauce.
Another common type of pastry in India is samosas – fried triangular cakes with various fillings. They are most often prepared for the festive table. With real national samosas, the dough is tender, crispy, melting, and the filling must necessarily be evenly heated.
Interesting fact! If there are no bubbles on the dough, the patties are cooked according to the original recipe and with compliance with the technology. You do not need to overheat the oil too much for this.
In India, many dishes are made with milk. Yogurt is no exception, fruits, berries are added to it.
Good to know! Natural yogurt is customary to flavor the first dishes before serving them to the table.
Besides, yogurt is the basis for a cool drink and dessert – lassi. Water and ice are added, and the yogurt is whipped until it becomes a thick froth. The result is a refreshing beverage in hot weather. They also add fruit, ice cream or cream to the drink.
A few helpful tips:
- almost all food in India is very spicy, so if you do not like peppered dishes, tell the waiters – no spice, the spice will still add to the treat, but much less;
- In restaurants, and even more so in markets, do not always adhere to the rules of hygiene, so it is strongly recommended not to try raw fruits and vegetables before buying;
- In India, there is an acute shortage of clean, potable water, it is strictly prohibited to drink water from the tap, you must buy bottled;
- It is also better to refuse to use ice, because it is made from tap water.
Traditional Indian dishes
As noted earlier, the national Indian cuisine is very diverse, and it is almost impossible to cover all the dishes worthy of tourists’ attention. We decided to simplify the task and prepared a review of the best 15 national dishes of Indian cuisine.
There is documentary evidence that curry, an Indian dish, was first cooked several thousand years ago. This is the name of not only a popular spice, but also the national dish. It is prepared from legumes, vegetables, sometimes adding meat and, of course, a whole bouquet of spices. In the finished dish can be up to two dozen spices. Ready meal is served with rice.
Good to know! Together with curry, betel leaves are served, they are eaten at the end of the meal. The leaves are wrapped with chopped betel nut and a set of spices. It is believed that such a set of products improves digestion.
There is no single recipe for curry, the technology varies depending on the region of India and the culinary preferences of a particular family. It is noteworthy that curry is an Indian dish, but has become known in many countries around the world. Today there are Thai and Japanese curries, and it is also cooked in Britain. In India, the dish can be spicy or sour-sweet.
A typical example of a combination of vegetables, pulses (peas), rice, curry in one Indian dish is dal. Soup is a must for an Indian lunch and includes legumes or peas, eaten with rice, bread flatbread.
Indian soup is called not just a national dish, but a folk dish, because it is necessarily prepared without exaggeration in every family. The first dish is served both hot and cold. The locals say that there are so many methods of cooking soup that it is easy to cook it all year round, without repeating itself.
The main ingredients are onions, garlic, tomatoes, a set of spices, and yogurt. The dish is boiled, baked, stewed and even fried. Depending on the set of products and method of preparation, the treat is served for breakfast, lunch, or dessert.
Another well-known national Indian dish is fried small balls of potatoes and paneer cheese. Greens, spices, and nuts are also added.
The name means – meatballs (kofta) in cream sauce (malai).
Useful to know! Paneer is a soft, fresh cheese common in Indian cuisine. The finished product does not melt and has a low acidity. The basis of the cheese is cottage cheese from milk, lemon juice and food acid.
Locals call the dish capricious because it requires careful handling. If you cook it without due delicacy, malai kofta will turn out unpalatable. By the way, even in India, not everywhere it is prepared successfully. As a result, tourists do not pay proper attention to the food. If a true master cooks it, however, you will be captivated by the delicate taste of vegetable balls in sauce.
In the list of the most famous dishes of Indian cuisine includes spinach and cheese soup, spices and vegetables are also added. Actually, palak means spinach, and paneer is a type of soft cheese similar to Adigean cheese. The Indian dish is delicate, with a pleasant creamy taste. Served with rice, bread tortillas.
Tip: Newcomers who are just getting acquainted with Indian culture and national cuisine are recommended to order palak paneer with a minimal set of spices so that they can feel the real, creamy taste of the dish.
To make it clearer, the finished national dish can be called Indian pilaf. The name comes from the Persian word which means fried. It is prepared according to the following technology – basmati rice is fried with the addition of ghee oil, vegetables, spices. It’s noteworthy that each region has its own composition of spices and cooking algorithm, most often saffron, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves are used.
Interesting fact! Biriani can not be called a truly Indian dish, because its recipe was brought to the country by Persian merchants.
The name of the Indian street dish combines vegetables, cheese and meat fried in batter. Slavic cuisine has a counterpart, but the only difference is that in India they use chickpea flour instead of wheat flour – they grind chickpeas (hummus beans). As a result, the crust is tender and crispy, and the dish gets extra nutritional value, because beans are high in protein.
The most common pakora is made of vegetables, and different bases are used – pumpkin, yams, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and potatoes. The finished dish is served with a seasoning of apples or tomatoes.
Tip: If you want to cook pakora on your own, the main thing is to choose and maintain the right temperature.
In translation, the name of the Indian dish thali means a tray with treats. In fact, it is so – on a large dish they put small plates with different dishes. Originally, it was served on a banana leaf; by the way, in some regions it is still served like this today – the old-fashioned way.
Rice is an essential ingredient of the thali, as are stewed vegetables, papad (lentil flour flatbread), chapati (bread flatbread), chutney sauces, and piculi. Traditionally 6 dishes are prepared at home, while a cafe or restaurant serves a maximum of 25 dishes. The set of treats varies from region to region.
Perhaps the most famous bread flatbread in India is chapati. The dish is made very quickly because it requires a minimum of products – whole grain flour. In the Indian dish uses a special flour – atta. The flatbreads are baked on a dry pan, without adding oil. Thus, the scones are great for those who do not want to gain extra calories.
Tip: Chapatis should only be eaten hot. Many tourists do not know this and restaurants take advantage of this – they serve yesterday’s dish. It is recommended to order the flatbread as needed so that a freshly baked dish is served to the table.
One of the most beloved dishes in India is naan flatbread. Yogurt and vegetable oil are added to the usual yeast dough. The tortillas are baked in an Indian tandoori oven.
There is a wide variety of scones in India, experienced tourists recommend trying naan butter (with butter), naan chies (with cheese), naan garlic (with garlic).
Naan can be tasted at any Indian café or restaurant; the tortillas are served as a meal by themselves or with a filling of meat, potatoes, or cheese.
To be in India and not taste tandoori chicken is like not having been to this exotic country. So, a tandoor is a traditional Indian roasting oven. Before the chicken is marinated in yogurt and, of course, spices (the traditional set – cayenne pepper and other hot peppers). After that, the bird is baked on a high heat.
Good to know! In India, you can buy special sets of spices for marinating chicken and cooking chicken tandoori. In the original version, aimed at locals, the dish turns out too spicy, and for tourists the amount of ground pepper is reduced. The chicken is served with rice and naan tortillas.
The composition of the Indian national dish is clear from the name – alu – potatoes, and gobi – cauliflower. Additionally, tomatoes, carrots, onions, spices are added. It is eaten with rice, traditional tortillas, drunk with Indian masala tea.
Why has this dish become national and popular? Products for its preparation can be purchased at any market, regardless of the season.
The dish is a vegetable mixture cooked in a sauce of cream and nuts. The national dish traditionally has nine ingredients, as the name means nine jewels and korma means stew. The treat is served with rice and unleavened tortillas.
Tip! For the sauce instead of cream you can use coconut milk or natural yogurt.
Indian national cuisine has a large selection of sweets and desserts. Jalebi is a pretzel with a rich orange color, it is known in every corner of India. The treat is made from liquid dough, it is poured into boiling oil and then soaked in sugar syrup. The national treat is crispy, juicy, but turns out greasy, sweet, hence very calorie-dense.
Traditions and customs of Indian cuisine vary, primarily depending on the region. But in general we can note several features – spicy, spicy, vegetarian.
Indian cuisine is one of the most colorful in the world and if you want to explore the culture of the country, be sure to pay attention to the gastronomic aspects.
Street food in India:
Author: Julia Matyukhina
Updated: 17 Jan, 2019 Thai cuisine offers a lot of unique and unusual for…
Updated: 6 Apr, 2020 Georgian cuisine is something you need to try more than one…
Updated: 31 Oct, 2018 God gave the Dutch nothing but water. Everything …
Indian cuisine – 81 homemade delicious cooking recipes
Cooking in any country in the world is part of a distinctive culture. To briefly describe Indian cuisine is a splendor of flavor contrasts. It is revered by gourmets, it is impossible to get used to, it will not get boring. Read more…
The ancient Vedas divided cooked food into three groups: goodness, passion, and ignorance. Many people think that Indian cuisine is characterized exclusively by spicy dishes (these are the ones that belong to passion), but in fact, the preference is for goodness – when everything is in moderation.
The territory of the country is vast, and the cuisine of India represents the quintessence of recipes and traditions of all regions. What is common is the abundance of spices that emphasize the flavors of the product. All kinds of spices are added – from the usual types of pepper to the exotic resin of asafetida or fenugreek. Pulses and a large number of vegetables are traditionally used.
The rest of the world also owes the appearance of vegetarianism to India, where it is associated with religious beliefs. Therefore, lovers of such cuisine will find many interesting recipes where meat is not used or is replaced by minced beans and nuts.
However, in the northern provinces, meat dishes made of pork and chicken are popular. The main food is pork and rice. Butter is especially regarded here, its abundance in the dish is a sign of wealth and prosperity. The South is famous for its world famous curry. Here they eat a lot of vegetables, rice is obligatory, and coconut is often used. On the coast: fish and seafood, of course, of any kind and method of preparation. You can’t ignore the Bombay duck, the Bengali sweets.
We can talk about this cuisine for a long time, and enjoy its masterpieces – endlessly!