People of India are fond of cooking as it plays a vital role in their everyday life and festivals, religious and cultural events. In India, Food is cooked and decorated as a part of the everyday meal, consisting of various course dishes and side dishes. Indian food culture is rich with diverse dishes and cooking styles.
The Food of India that we see in the present form has attained its shape after going through many changes. Due to this reason, North Indian food is quite different from South Indian food, while East Indian Food is totally unique from West Indian food.
The primary reason behind the diversity of Indian Food is that it was greatly influenced by the neighbors, travelers, and rulers. Moreover, India’s unique geography and exciting history have also impacted the Food as well as overall eating habits of the people.
History Of Indian Food, Culture & Traditions
Having a detailed look at Indian history helps us understand how Indian Food is strongly related to culture and traditions.
In this era, India was a part of the Indus Valley Civilization that laid the foundation for the Ayurvedic cooking style.
It was the time when Aryans entered India and gave rise to the caste system. They devised different eating standards for the lower and upper class of society.
In this era, Buddhism and Jainism dominated India. As a result, people started to follow the foods recommended by religious scholars.
Around 400 BC, Greeks entered India and started living in various Indian regions. Their eating habits, culture as well as traditions also impacted the way Indian people live and eat.
1200 -1500 AD
In this Era, Portuguese people invaded India. Moreover, it also became home to Persian and other non-Indian Dynasties. All of them came up with their unique Food as well as traditional eating habits.
Mughals dominated this area in this era. They were Muslims, and their favorite Food was meat. It was the time when various meat dishes became a part of Indian culture.
1800 – 1947 AD
As we know, the British ruled India from 1857 to 1947, which gave rise to the popularity of British Anglo Indian cuisine, including tea.
1948 and onwards
In the late 20th century and the 21st century, significant foods that are a part of Indian culture today include rice and wheat as staple foods.
However, this is not the end. Many varied accompaniments and desserts add deliciousness to family gatherings, functions, parties, and festivals.
In-depth Details About Indian Classic Cuisine
The major factor that distinguishes Indian Food from other foods is the use of spices. Indian Food does not rely only on a single spice; instead, different herbs are used to prepare various dishes.
The best part about Indian spices is that they carry various medicinal as well as nutritional benefits.
Here it is worth mentioning that spices are used very generously in Indian Food. In fact, spiciness is the major reason behind the immense popularity of Indian cuisine.
Let’s study Indian food culture in various regions of India in detail.
North Indian Food
Indian food culture in North India comprises Kashmiri cuisines. An interesting thing about North Indian Food is that every dish revolves around rice. It is due to the reason that rice is the primary food that is found abundantly in the beautiful valley of Kashmir.
In other words, rice is the principal Food of North Indian people.
Let’s have a look at some other major food dishes of North India.
- One of the tastiest and delicious dishes of Indian Food is Saag. It is similar in appearance to other leafy green vegetables such as spinach and mustard greens. The Interesting part about it is that it is prevalent in Kashmir, but the people of all religions and areas of India and Pakistan equally love Saag.
- In some areas of North India, people are also fond of preparing chapatis with a variety of flours, including rice, wheat, and besan.
- It is a cultural norm of Kashmir people to cook various breads baked in tandoors or natural stoves on numerous occasions, including weddings, festivals, and religious celebrations. These chapatis have different names based on their unique recipes, including Tandoori, rumali, and naan, etc.
All of the foods mentioned above of the north Indian region strongly reflect the Mughlai food. So we can say the people of Kashmir follow the cultural and traditional cooking styles of Mughlai foods.
West Indian Food
When we move from North to west, we find that the food trend slightly changes and converts into dessert cuisine. It is most commonly observed in the areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat, where people are used to preparing and eating various pickles, vegetable preserves (chutneys), and other similar food items.
Each of these desserts comes up with a different flavor and unique taste, while spices also make them different from one another.
In this region, people are more geared towards the use of pulses than the use of chicken or other meat-related dishes.
If you mainly study the classic food trends of the states like Goa and Maharashtra, you will know that people usually love the amalgamation of both Northern and Southern Food.
So, we can see that people use rice and wheat to make chapati and add various desserts and pickles to their diet. The great benefit of using vegetable preserves and pickles is that you can always use them without keeping your vegetables fresh.
Moreover, they are a very delicious and unique addition to our daily meals.
The use of pickles reveals the eating habits and lifestyles of Persian people and North Indian Dynasties. So the use of desserts dates back to almost 800 years.
In Mumbai, dishes related to fish are ubiquitous, such as Mumbai prawn and pomfret.
If we closely observe and examine the Food of Goa, we know that it is closely related to Portuguese Food. The cooking style recipes and the dishes of this region closely resemble the Portuguese dishes. Some of the examples of the dishes include duck baffad, egg molie, etc.
East Indian Food
Eastern dishes are very strongly influenced by Bengali food. Remember that Bengali Food comprises fish and rice as the major food items.
In Eastern India, the Assamese style of cooking is also very prominent and noticeable.
The people of Bangladesh, as well as East India, have a strong inclination towards the use of fish for the preparation of a variety of dishes.
The most common dish of Eastern India is “Hilsa,” in which fish is wrapped in the pumpkin leaf and then cooked.
Various sweet dishes are also common in this region, including Sandesh, Cham Cham, and rose Gullahs.
South Indian Food
As the Southern region of India comprises coastal areas, fish, spices, and coconut are ubiquitous. Or we can say that almost all the dishes of the South Indian region have these components as the star ingredients.
To further add characteristic spicy odor and sour flavor, people use tamarind in their coastal dishes.
Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the most prominent regions of South Asia where people are fond of adding chilies and spices to their Food. Some of the examples of these dishes are fish Moli, Dosas, and rice puttu.
Puttu is a highly unique and exciting dish of South India consisting of glutinous rice powder.
In short, when we compare all four Indian regions, we come to know that the most interesting area in terms of food culture is the Southern Indian region.
Indian Food, culture, traditions and their role in community health
As we have seen that Indian cuisine changes from region to region, which is strong evidence that the people of India are ethnically different and live in the diverse subcontinent.
However, they share some common food styles, such as spices as an integral part of their food and cooking.
It is also said that India’s significant and integral part of food preparation resembles that of Indus Valley civilization.
If you have ever eaten Indian food, you should know that herbs, vegetables, pulses, and legumes are the primary food components. Moreover, all the foods of Indian cuisine are equally delectable, aromatic, and favorable, which ensure health benefits and provide a highly delicious taste.
Various spices that are used in the preparation of Food come up with nutritional benefits.
In most areas where people use chilies excessively, the dishes are tasty, but they may cause stomach burning. However, the use of various drinks such as lassi makes it easy for people to digest spices and enjoy the improved taste of the dishes.
By the way, now that you have read about Indian food culture, does this discussion seem interesting to you? Which of the four Indian Food Traditions do you like the most? Have you ever enjoyed eating Indian Food?
Let us know in the comment section below.