|Indian cuisine is closely related with culture, religion and traditional festivals. The best-known fact about Indian cuisine is that all the Indians adore spicy food. Actually India is a real spice field, the country which manufactures 1 600 000 tonnes of spices that is 86% of all spices in the world! Taking into account these figures, it isn’t surprising that the art of spicy food cooking has achieved such perfection in India that the rest of the world, especially its western part, has no choice but to admire and to try to imitate it.
Indian spicy food can seem too sophisticated to a foreigner for its variety of spices and their blends. To gain an understanding of spicy food cooking tips in India one should know the characteristic of each spice and its combinations with other spices. The Indians call that masala – a blend of some different spices; perhaps everyone knows the famous spicy food chef d’oeuvres like Chicken Tikka Masala and Masala tea.
One third of the Indian population are vegetarians, and that fact causes the popularity of rice and various pulses like chana (bengal gram), toor (red gram) and mung (green gram). Processed in flour, pulses with spice are common spicy food in India. As for the oil, in India the choice is wider than in Europe: preparing their tasty spicy food dishes, besides familiar sunflower and soybean oil, the Indians use also coconut oil, peanut oil, mustard oil and even hydrogenated vegetable oil, known as Vanaspati ghee. The most widespread spices are cumin, chili pepper, coriander, black mustard, ginger, cardamon, nutmeg and fenugreek.
There isn’t one Indian traditional dish, each region has its own customs and cooking secrets. In the north dairy products are on the top, many dishes are milk-based. The Indians like spicy food so much that they put chilies and other spices not only in main courses like Tandoori Chicken, but also in sweets, for example such desserts as gulab jamun or ras malai contain cinnamon and saffron. Indian bread differs from its western confrere: using a griddle called “tawa” Indian housewives bake flat round roti, naan and paratha. One of the most typical snack in the north is samosa, a spicy food dish seasoned with coriander, tamarind and mint.
South Indian cuisine is distinguished by a great variety of spicy food vegetarian dishes like Sambar which is dressed with fresh curry leaves, coriander, mustard seeds and asafoetida. Served on a banana leaf Sambar is a real boon for vegetarians and spicy food connoisseurs.
As regards beverages, Indian spicy food tradition leaves its mark on them too. In a hot day the Indians drink Lassi – a blend of water, salt or sugar, yogurt, and spices. The origins of spicy Lassi is Punjab, where it is traditionally dressed with cumin and topped with malai (clotted cream). Lassi is a perfect refreshment for those who are languid with the heat and also for spicy food admires, who are used to have extra fiery dishes.