Indian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world, thanks to its delectable dishes, intricate ingredients, and mouth-watering flavors. Some of India’s most common dishes combine a variety of flavors – sweet, sour, spicy, and tangy – all at once. It’s made up of a diverse range of spices, pulses, seasonings, and cereals.
Each region in India has its distinct cuisine native to that district. In India, there are countless styles and varieties of dishes to choose from, all of which are equally delicious. Many people think of curries and rice when they think of Indian meals. However, Indian cuisine encompasses much more than this. There are several different types of Indian cuisine, each with its own set of delicacies.
Vegetarianism is deeply understood in India, so this will not be a problem for anyone traveling to this country. Veganism is a little different in India because most Indian meals contain a lot of dairy in the form of yogurt drinks and paneer. However, many menus have ingredients clearly labeled, making it simple to skip the few paneer-based dishes and all of the yogurt-based dishes if you are truly vegan.
The entire subcontinent has developed a range of different dishes that is delicious even without the use of meat. There are no fake meat substitutes, and no additional salt or spices are needed. Each area of India has a diverse range of options of dishes both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
A typical Indian meal consists of rice or flatbread, as well as a lentil stew (dal). There may also be a pickle (achar), pappad (a thin round “chip” made from chickpea flour and spices), and chutney, as well as meat, fish, seafood, or vegetable curries.
Meat is usually prepared on the bone and served. Many experts believe that food cooked on the bone has more flavor. However, many Western diners, in my experience, tend not to have to work around bones when dining. To bring out the best flavor, spices are either dry roasted or sautéed (tempered) in ghee or oil. Dry and wet gravies are both used in meat and vegetable dishes. Wet gravies have a sauce made with cream, coconut milk, & water, whereas dry gravies have spices sticking to the main food item at the end of cooking.
Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, pungent, and heat from chilies are all flavors found in Indian cuisine. Indian meals are known for their sophisticated spice balance, resulting in crave-worthy food dominated by vegetables, with eggs and paneer (a fresh Indian cheese) appearing frequently. Meat, poultry, and fish are just small contributors to the already complete dish.
The thali is an extremely common Indian meal. It comes with rice, vegetarian or non-vegetarian curries, pickles, dals (lentils), yogurt, and probably a dessert, and is served for lunch or dinner. Pickles are an important part of an Indian table, and they were created to preserve fruits and vegetables for eating out of season, much like pickles all over the world but slowly pickle has become a staple in any Indian food.
Here are some of the most basic dishes found in Indian meals with each region having its unique variation.
- Achar – An intensely spiced vegetable/fruit pickle.
- Chutney – A sweet and salty condiment made with pureed fruit & spices.
- Dal – A lentil curry.
- Indian Flatbread: Typical Indian bread which is a staple in every meal like roti or paratha.
- Kheer/Payesh – A traditional sweet dish.
- Rice or Khichdi – A comfort staple for Indians.
- Curries – Vegetable or meat preparations with dry/wet gravy.
- Raita: Yogurt mixed with fresh vegetables, fruits, & spices!!!