Introduction to Indian Cuisine – Common Terms and Stereotypes

Introduction to Indian Cuisine – Common Terms and Stereotypes

India is the second largest country in the world (population wise) and food is an important part of Indian culture. Just like the people the food they eat varies from place to place. Each part of India has it own style of cooking and special dishes. According to some ancient  traditions from India, food is a gift from god and hence the preparation and consumption of food requires seriousness, concentration and a lot of time.

We have featured simple and tasty dishes from Indian cuisine, some of them have been contributed by famous Indian food bloggers. Through this we would like you to not only learn to cook something new but also dispel any myths and stereotypes that you may have.

Lets us start by learning some common terms in Indian cooking.

Masala – It means a mixture of herbs or spices and herbs, specific to Indian cuisine. Some masalas are a mixture of about 20 different herbs and spices. Indian spices despite their appearances are used not only to give flavour but they also have practical purposes. They retain water in the body and also protect against infection.

Curry – In Europe, most dishes from South Asia are referred to a “curry”. However, in India curry refers to a dish that has “gravy” and “sauce”. Curries are eaten with either with rice or rotis (flatbread).

Chutney – They are pastes from overcooked or grated raw vegetables and fruit. They can either be spicy or sweet depending on the amount of ginger and chilli in them. They are similar to “dips” in European or American cuisine and go along well with fried food.The word ‘chutney’ is the English equivalent of the Hindu ‘chatni’ word for ‘finger licking’.

Aachar – This refers to Pickles. Pickled vegetables in Oil and spices complete a dining table in India. Pickles can be made from most vegetables and in some parts of India also from seafood. They available in all stores however the best type are home-made.

Some of the stereotypes people have of Indian food and cooking are :-

“Indian food is too spicy”

This is the most common stereotype about Indian cuisine. While Indian food uses a lot of spices and condiments in them not all of them are spicy but they add flavour to the dish. If you are not too fond of spicy food you should add a lesser amount of the spices than required by the recipes. Eating Indian food with youghurt also helps reduce the spiciness of the dish.

“Indian food takes a long time to prepare”

Dishes that use vegetable as an ingredient cook faster than those that require meat. Using fresh ingredients also help speed up the cooking process.

“Indian food to is too greasy”

Dishes from India can be prepared not only by frying but also by grilling and baking. For those who are health concious and conerned about their waistline, they should use less than half of the oil required in the recipe.

“Indian food uses a lot of rice”

Food from the south of India uses a lot of rice since rice is grown there however in the North of India where wheat are grown, people eat rotis or chappatis with their meal. Rotis or chappatis are flatbread made with wheat or any other grain.

“Indian food is only vegetarian”

The most common religion of people from India is Hinduism. For religious reasons most Hindus do not eat meat,  the Cow is a sacred animal to them and hence beef is not common in dishes from India. Chicken and lamb are sometimes used.