Monday, April 4, 2016

C for Cuisine

Welcome to the "Believe it or Not- That's Incredible India!" series. India is home to some of the most astonishing wonders in the world. The rich culture, heritage, food, scriptures, architectural marvels and scores of known and unknown facts come together to create this multicolored melange that is India. Throughout this month, read about the various believe it or not facts about India and know what goes into the making of this incredible country!


Food is a big part of being Indian! We love to eat and how! While Westerners might think ‘Chicken tikka masala’ represents Indian food, it is so not true! It’s impossible to put a finger on one particular food and say this represents India because every part of the country has its own specialty which makes food a distinctly regional delicacy. Instead, I’d like to take you to different corners of the country and give you a virtual taste of what tastes best there.

Breakfast in Tamil Nadu/ Karnataka/ Kerala- These South Indian states offer the best in terms of breakfast. Choose from a steaming plate of fluffy white idlies, dosas, medu vadas, puttus, or paniyarams saddled with a variety of chutneys and sambhar. This is one of the most wholesome breakfasts you can have as it has just the right mix of carbs, proteins, and nutrients.

Snack up in Gujarat- Craving a mid-morning snack? Have a quick stopover at Gujarat and fill your plates with the softest Khaman Dhoklas, Shrikhand and crispy fried farsans, Khakra and Fafda.

Lunch needs a bit more variety, doesn’t it?

If you fancy meat you would love the Kasmiri cuisine which is more meat based. They like to cook their dishes for a long time to infuse it with flavours giving you rich succulent meat to dig your teeth into.

Thinking of chicken? Then Punjabi is the way to go. The Punjabi cuisine is rich and has a strong dose of butter and ghee. It is definitely not for the weak hearted! You can also get varieties of stuffed flat breads called parathas and food cooked in tandoor (an open earthen oven) to go with your chicken.

If you fancy pork or seafood, then head straight to Goa. And don’t forget to round it off with the best wines you can get.

And if it is fish that you are dreaming about go wading all the way to Bengal. The Hilsa fish is a specialty here and is cooked in mustard sauce.

I’m sure you’d fancy some rice to go with the meal. While there’s plenty of rice dishes to choose from I’d recommend Biryani. Every place in India has different variations in biryani but two of the best biryanis are the Lucknowi- cooked in sealed pots called ‘handis’- cooked over slow fire and left to cook in its own juices and has a more meaty flavor and the Hyderabadi Biryani which is Dum cooked (steamed over coals) and is more yogurty flavoured.

After all the spice and fats you must round off the meal with a tall chilled glass of thick sweet Lassi from Punjab.

Wait there’s more! Did you think you can leave without ordering desserts?

While there are umpteen desserts to choose from, the Bengali sweets win hands down. Whether it is the mouth-watering Payash or Sandesh or Rasogulla - the yummy spongy cottage cheese balls soaked in sweet sugar syrup, you can never have just one!

Before you know, it’s time for tea. But I’d say skip the tea and head back to Karnataka for the finest Coorgi filter coffee.  If it is tea that you fancy, then your finest cuppa will be the Darjeeling or Assam Black tea. And to go with your tea or coffee, try the spicy Vada-Pav from Maharashtra –cutlet sitting smug in between soft bread rolls called pav and is almost burger-like and is served with tangy chutney.

Dinner should be light right? I’d say Rajasthani food is best for dinner. It’s light, it’s clean and non-fussy but there's a lot of variety…you’d still be clutching your tummy after you’ve finished. Munch on the finest Dal-Bati-Churma - small balls of wheat flour dough, baked in tandoor and called Bati are served with lentil curry and sweet Churma. Oh, and did I mention there’s a generous dollop of ghee that goes on top of it? The heart will ask you to go on but the tummy knows it cannot take any more.

This is just a peek into what India has to offer in terms of food. The variety is mind boggling and if you are a foodie there’s so much you can choose from.

Believe it or not- That is Incredible India!

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