THE AROMATIC RICHNESS OF...INDIAN CUISINE
Known as the world’s greatest exporter of spices, India’s food is rich with the warmth of treasured and complex flavours that have been lovingly passed down in families for generations. While dishes vary from Northern to South Indian culture, spices and rice are the way of life, which creates the strong aromatic flavours together with the vibrant colours.
TASTE OF INDIAN FOOD
Rice is such an important part of Indian cuisine and has its place in the culture too. Be it a morsel of kheer (rice pudding), boiled rice being fed as a child’s first solid food or uncooked rice grains applied to foreheads with sandalwood paste to form a ‘tilak’, a burning symbol of the soul’s energy.
Cultural facts about India
70% of the world’s spices come from India where there are more than 60 varieties grown in different regions.
‘Namaste’ is the most common daily greeting and it can be used at any time of day with anyone to say both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’.
Rice is a staple ingredient in India and is eaten every day
Ponni, a kind of rice used in breakfast foods, is one of India’s most popular rice
The bhut jolokia, commonly known as the Ghost Chilli Pepper, is one of the world’s hottest chillies and it grows in areas across India, including Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. It has a Scoville rating of about 1 million, making it 400x hotter than Tabasco sauce.
The concept of “masala” (a blend of spices) is an integral part of Indian cuisine and is used to enhance the flavours of various dishes.
The traditional method of cooking in Indian cuisine involves the use of clay ovens called “tandoors,” which are used to prepare dishes like tandoori chicken, naan bread and kebabs.
“Chaat,” a popular street food in India, refers to a variety of savoury snacks typically served with tangy chutneys and spices. Some popular chaat items include samosas, pani puri and bhel puri.
“Lassi,” a refreshing yoghurt-based drink, is a popular beverage in India. It can be flavoured with fruits like mango or rose syrup and is often consumed during the hot summer months.
The “thali” is a traditional Indian meal that consists of a selection of various dishes served on a large plate. It provides a balanced combination of flavours, textures and nutrients.
“Dosa,” a popular South Indian dish, is a thin, crispy pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter. It is often served with coconut chutney and sambar.
THE SIGNATURE FLAVOUR OF THE INDIAN INGREDIENTS
Floral, spicy, and sweet, Green Cardamom is a signature flavour that can be detected in a host of sweet and savoury Indian dishes. An essential for fragrant curries and puddings alike.
Cumin is used extensively in Indian cuisine, both as seeds and ground cumin. It provides a warm, nutty flavour and is found in curries, rice dishes, lentil preparations and spice blends like garam masala.
Known for its vibrant yellow colour, turmeric is used in both powdered and fresh forms. It adds a warm, earthy flavour and is a key ingredient in curries, rice dishes and spice blends.
Coriander seeds and fresh coriander leaves are both widely used in Indian cooking. The seeds have a warm, citrusy flavour and are used in spice blends, while the leaves add freshness and are used as a garnish or in chutneys.
A fundamental component of Indian meals. Basmati rice, known for its fragrance and long grains, is commonly used. It is the foundation for biryanis, pulaos and plain steamed rice.
Mustard oil is commonly used in Eastern Indian cuisine, particularly in Bengal and Odisha. It has a pungent flavour and adds a unique taste to dishes.
Jaggery, made from sugarcane juice or palm sap, is used as a sweetener in Indian desserts, snacks and some savoury dishes. It has a caramel-like flavour.
Tamarind pulp, extracted from the fruit, is used as a souring agent in Indian cuisine. It lends a tangy taste to dishes and is used in chutneys, curries and sambar (a lentil and vegetable stew).
Lentils and pulses
Lentils and pulses such as red lentils, yellow split peas, chickpeas and black lentils are staple ingredients in Indian cuisine. They are used to make various dals (lentil stews), curries and snacks.
Coconut is used in various forms, such as grated coconut, coconut milk and coconut oil. It is prevalent in coastal regions and South Indian cuisine, adding a distinct flavour and creaminess to curries, chutneys and desserts.
Onions and garlic – Onions and garlic are essential flavour enhancers in Indian cooking. They are used as the base for many curries, stir-fries and rice dishes.
INDIAN SPICES GUIDE
Asafoetida is used sparingly in Indian cooking as a flavour enhancer, particularly in vegetarian dishes. It has a strong, pungent aroma.
Bay leaves are aromatic and add a subtle, earthy flavour to dishes. Most often they are used in rice dishes, stews and curries.
Cardamom seeds have a sweet and floral flavour. They are used in both sweet and savoury dishes, such as curries, rice dishes and desserts. Cardamom powder is a convenient alternative for adding the spice’s flavour.
Carom seeds are commonly used in Indian bread (parathas), savoury snacks and lentil dishes. They have a pungent, thyme-like flavour.
Cassia bark, also known as Chinese cinnamon, is similar to cinnamon but has a slightly stronger and more pungent flavour. It is used in both sweet and savoury dishes, including curries, rice dishes and desserts.
Cinnamon has a sweet and warm flavour and is used in a wide range of Indian dishes, such as curries, rice dishes and desserts as well as spice blends like garam masala.
Cloves have a strong, warm and slightly sweet flavour. They are used in both sweet and savoury dishes, such as rice pilafs, curries, spice blends and desserts.
Coriander seeds have a warm, citrusy flavour and are used in spice blends, curries and pickles. Fresh coriander leaves, also known as cilantro, add freshness and are commonly used as a garnish or in chutneys.
Cumin seeds have a warm, nutty flavour and are used significantly in Indian cooking. They are found in curries, rice dishes, lentil preparations and spice blends like garam masala. Cumin powder is a versatile spice used in many dishes.
Dried ginger has a warm and slightly spicy flavour. It is used in spice blends, curries, marinades and pickles, adding a fresh and distinctive taste.
Fennel seeds have a sweet and aromatic flavour with a hint of liquorice. They are used in spice blends, curries, rice dishes, bread and desserts.
Fenugreek seeds have a slightly bitter taste and are used in spice blends, curries and pickles. Fenugreek leaves (known as kasuri methi) are dried and used as a flavouring agent in curries, lentil dishes and bread.
Garam masala is a blend of ground spices commonly used in Indian cuisine. It typically includes cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, coriander, nutmeg and black pepper. Garam masala adds warmth and complexity to dishes.
Kashmiri chilli powder is known for its vibrant red colour and mild heat. It is commonly used in Indian dishes to add colour and a touch of spice.
Mango Powder (Amchur)
Mango powder is made from dried unripe green mangoes and has a tangy and sour flavour. It is used in chutneys and marinades.
Mustard seeds come in yellow, brown and black varieties and have a pungent, tangy flavour. They are used in tempering, pickles, spice blends and vegetable dishes.
Nigella Seeds (Kalonji)
Nigella seeds have a nutty and slightly bitter flavour. They are used as a spice in various Indian bread, curries and pickles.
Nutmeg and Mace
Nutmeg has a warm, sweet and slightly spicy flavour, while mace, the outer covering of the nutmeg seed, has a similar flavour but is more delicate. Both spices are used sparingly in Indian dishes, such as spice blends, desserts and creamy sauces.
Panchporan is a blend of five whole spices: fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and fennel seeds. It is used for tempering and adds a unique flavour to various dishes.
Red chillies come in various forms, including whole dried chillies, red chilli powder and crushed chillies. They add heat and spiciness to Indian dishes.
Saffron is a prized spice known for its vibrant colour and unique flavour. It is used in sweet dishes, rice dishes and milk-based desserts.
Star anise has a strong liquorice-like flavour and is often used in spice blends, meat dishes and rich gravies for its distinct taste.
Tej patta, also known as Indian bay leaf, has a strong aroma and flavour. It is commonly used in rice dishes, curries and biryanis to add depth to the flavours.
Turmeric, with its vibrant yellow colour, is a staple spice in Indian cooking. It has a warm and earthy flavour and is used in curries, rice dishes, spice blends and as a natural food colouring agent.
These spices play an integral role in Indian cuisine, imparting distinctive flavours, aromas and colours to dishes and creating the rich tapestry of tastes that make Indian food so renowned and beloved.
Types of Indian Cuisine
India, a land of diverse cultures, languages and traditions, is also home to an astonishing variety of regional cuisines. Each region boasts its unique flavours, cooking techniques and signature dishes.
West Indian Cuisine
The western region of India encompasses states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Rajasthan. West Indian cuisine showcases a mix of bold flavours, vibrant spices and regional specialities with Chinese and Portuguese influences thanks to the area’s trading histories. Being a coastal region, seafood is an important part of West Indian cooking. From the street food paradise of Mumbai to the coastal flavours of Goa, West Indian cuisine has something to offer for every palate. Highlights include Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji, Dhokla, Thepla, Goan Fish Curry, Pork Vindaloo and Dal Baati Churma.
South Indian Cuisine
South Indian cuisine is known for its extensive use of rice, lentils, coconut and a wide range of spices. From the iconic dosas and idlis to the aromatic Biryani and flavourful seafood curries, South Indian cuisine tantalises taste buds of the locals, but its dishes are lesser known outside of India. South Indian cuisine is often fried or cooked on griddles. Notable dishes include Masala Dosa, Sambar, Rasam, Appam, Hyderabadi Biryani and Malabar Fish Curry.
North Indian Cuisine
North Indian cuisine is renowned for its rich and indulgent flavours – and most Indian food eaten outside of India is based on North Indian cooking. Influenced by Mughal and Persian culinary traditions, it features an assortment of aromatic spices, dairy products and meat preparations. Curries in the north are often made with creamy coconut milk or yoghurt. Iconic dishes include Butter Chicken, Rogan Josh, Biryani, Tandoori Naan, Chole Bhature and Rajma Chawal.
East Indian Cuisine
The eastern region of India encompasses states like West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand, each with its distinctive culinary traditions. East Indian cuisine features a unique blend of flavours, including a balance of sweet and savoury tastes – although East Indian cuisine uses less spice and more sweetness than the rest of the nation. From the delectable Bengali sweets to the flavoursome fish curries and spicy street food, East Indian cuisine is a treat for the senses. Must-try dishes include Rosogolla, Mishti Doi, Machher Jhol, Litti Chokha and Rasabali.
INDIAN RICE DISHES
Cooks In31 – 60 Minutes
Pure Basmati Rice
Vegetable Biryani a prized dish and real labour of love and hence made at special occasions.
WHICH RICE FOR INDIAN CUISINE?
Each variety brings something different so choosing the right type of rice for your dish is important. Your meals deserve the best, so let’s take it to the next level and create authentic plates that impress.
Basmati is the most popular grain in Indian cuisine and is widely considered as the ‘queen of grains’ for its unique qualities. Our Pure Basmati, with its aroma and fluffy texture, makes it the perfect companion to Indian curries to soak in the delicious Indian spices. What’s more, our Grand Extra Long Basmati is ideal for those grand occasions with its elegant long grains made to impress – why not try it when cooking up a Biryani?Explore rice for Indian cuisines
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