Food- the spice of life

January 12, 2013 10:23 am 0 comments

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Indian ThaliIndians strongly believe that the best way to reach the heart is through the stomach. The culinary tradition of India is as diverse as its communities are. It is known for its gastronomic pleasure and to dine in an Indian home is to taste the beauty of the tongue. The eateries are spread out in nooks and corners of the country and are a sheer delight for the gourmet. Multilingual and multicultural communities with their different taste buds have added an aura to festival of stomach in the country. The importance of food cannot be denied in our lives. Food is not just which provides us with energy but it’s the spice of our life. Food has a special place in the life of an Indian.

Our morning starts with food. Eating is considered as one of the most important ritual in an Indian way of life. We can not exist without food is a well know fact but an Indian does not only eats to live; his life revolves around food. Festivals in India are surrounded with food being the key factor. Traditionally, meals in India were eaten while seated either on the floor or on very low stools or cushions. Food is most often eaten with the right hand rather than cutlery and this traditional way of eating is still a part of Indian homes. Specially, during traditional festivals conventional way of eating is preferred. Traditional serving styles vary regionally throughout India. The preparation of special dishes marks the completion of any festivals. Harvest festivals are very important in India since time immemorial and continue to be till today. These festivals mark the importance of food in a society. There can be a region wise division of Indian cuisine and each region has a unique way to celebrate food through harvest festivals. Each region has a specialty and has an exceptional way of using local herbs and vegetables. Indian cuisine encompasses all the regional specialty together under one strap. Each region has abundant herbs and vegetables exclusive to the specific region and is well used by the people of the particular region. The distinctive use of natural ingredients is the forte of the land. Food in India has had a transformation since ages and the transformation was due to the number of invasions it had. The influence of Mughals can be seen the most in Indian food. Even Western and European cuisines have influenced the way Indian dishes are developed in many ways. The present India is grabbed by the fast food culture though the fast food culture has blended well with the traditional Indian food.

Indian culture is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and the use of natural ingredients in food for health benefits is well known. Historical incidents such as foreign invasions, trade relations, and colonialism have also played a role in introducing certain foods to the country. Invaders have influenced Indian culture to a large extend. Food is the area, which has had the maximum influence. The present India shows a blend of both modern and ancient cultures together in all walks of life and the blend can be well seen in the area of food. However, the fast food culture is blended well with our traditional culture. The new restaurant tycoons are cooking up big expansion plans and they are bringing in their favorite international restaurants to India too. The diners are having a wide range to choose from when it comes to food in India. The traditional food has its own place and the place for modern cuisine is well reserved in India.

The influence of food has been a mutual relation in the world throughout the ages. It is not that only Indian food has been influenced by other cuisines. Indian food has entered into the mainstream diets of many other countries. One can see many Indian food joints in Europe and America which are flourishing well and also the traditional recipes and spices are considered into preparation of a variety of dishes by chefs all over the world. Indian cuisine is very popular in Southeast Asia, due to the strong Hindu and Buddhist cultural influence in the region. Indian cuisine has had considerable influence on Malaysian cooking styles and also enjoys popularity in Singapore.

The key feature of Indian food is the use of vegetables. Indian food mainly consists of the preparation of vegetarian dishes. Vegetables are a healthy source of fibers and other important vitamins and minerals. The specialty of Indian preparation of vegetable dishes not only creates a wonderful combination of spices and curries to make the dish a delight for the taste buds; it also helps in bringing out the best qualities of the vegetables, which can be absorbed by the body. Similar can be said about the preparation of non-vegetarian dishes. Be it fish, egg or meat, their cooking involves a sequence of well known steps which helps in making the dish safe for consumption, tasteful and also a healthy bank of nutrients and other daily body requirements. India is well known as “the land of spices” since time immemorial. Spices play a major role they are used in food as well as for healing purposes. Therefore, the daily use of spice in food heals our body internally and prevents diseases. One such example can be the use of “haldi” in our food regularly. “Haldi” has medicinal property is a scientific fact so its use in everyday food heals the body and explains the reason behind its use in everyday food.

Indian cuisine include pearl millet (bajra), rice, whole-wheat flour (atta), and a variety of lentils, especially masoor (most often red lentils), toor (pigeon pea), urad (black gram), and moong (mung bean). Lentils may be used completely, de-husked—for example, dhuli moong or dhuli urad—or split. Split lentils, or dal, are used extensively. Some pulses, such as channa (chickpea), Rajma or kidney beans, lobiya are very common, especially in the northern regions. Channa and mung, are also processed into flour (besan). Many Indian dishes are cooked in vegetable oil, but peanut oil is popular in northern and western India, mustard oil in eastern India, and coconut oil along the western coast, especially in Kerala. Sweet dishes, desserts and non- alcoholic drinks also represent Indian culture. The desserts are gaining popularity all over the world. Any occasion or festivity in India is incomplete without a sweet dish.

We can find that food and dining hold a very important place in every Indian’s life. The dishes, preparation and serving techniques may vary across the land but the feelings attached and the soul of the food remains the same all over the country. Food is something which stitches the whole nation together.

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