Mouthwatering Indian Dishes – what makes our cuisine so delicious?
Spices to warm and entice the palate
There are thousands of regional dishes originating from the continent of India and Asia most of which are flavoured with spices and date back centuries. Some of the Indian spices are Chilli Pepper, Turmeric powder (said to possess antiseptic properties), Ginger, Garlic, Fennel, Fenugreek, Coriander, Black Mustard seeds, Cumin and many more.
Our sub-continent has a wide and varying climate providing the ideal conditions to cultivate many of these spices which have resulted in hundreds of regional variations and given us the exciting cuisine that so many people love today.
One of the ingredients we use widely is the chilli pepper, but this was originally imported from Portugal and picked up by enterprising locals virtually establishing it as native produce.
To cook and prepare the wide choice of dishes, we also have an enormous variety of cooking techniques and to prepare traditional recipes, which have been handed down through the generations, the precise selection of spices, which can be a matter of family tradition. Some of our dishes are named after their ingredients, the spices we use or, cooking methods. This is particularly noticeable for food cooked in a Tandoor, a charcoal-fired clay oven, where the dishes are described as Tandoori dishes.
One of the traditional spice mixes is Garam Masala, which means Hot Spices Mix. This is made up of five or more dried spices and, every chef has their unique recipe. Food cooked in the home will vary considerably from that prepared in Indian restaurants due to the methods of preparation.
Spices can be used ground or whole, raw or cooked and they might be added at different times to the cooking process to produce different results which is why what you cook at home is very different to what is prepared in the kitchen of a traditional Indian Restaurant such as the Bengal Palace in Seaford.
Curry has become synonymous with Indian Cuisine
The word ‘curry’ frequently epitomises how people refer to Indian dishes, but the term is one that has been popularized by Western culture. Your curries can come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand or other parts of Southeast Asia and they contain a much less complex mix of spices and herbs.
Curries can contain meat, fish, poultry, shellfish or, be entirely vegetarian. A ‘curry-powder’ as such is a commercial combination of spices thought to have been prepared by Indian merchants for sale to British colonials.
You can also have ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ curries. The former has large amounts of sauce or gravy based on yogurt, lentils, coconut milk or stock and dry curries are cooked with very little liquid which evaporates during cooking leaving the dish coated with the mixture of spices.
History has seen our cuisine evolve
The diversity of our cuisine is, in part, a reflection of the many different cultures and conquerors that have been part of the making of the Indian subcontinent. From the Asian and Afghan conquerors right through to overseas visitors from the Caribbean and the British, have all had their influence and helped make our dishes unique, diverse and ever popular.