Monday, March 08, 2010

India: land of many cuisines

The cuisine of India is characterized by the use of spices, herbs and vegetables grown in India and also for the widespread practice of vegetarianism. Each family of Indian cuisine is characterized by a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques, says Wikipedia.

Around 7,000 BC, sesame, eggplant, and humped cattle had been domesticated in the Indus Valley.[12] By 3000 BC, turmeric, cardamom, black pepper and mustard were harvested in India.[13]

In Vedic (ancient) times, a normal diet consisted of fruit, vegetables, meat, grain, dairy products and honey.[14]

Over time, some segments of the population embraced vegetarianism, due to the ancient Hindu philosophy of ahimsa, which forbids killing or injuring of living beings.[15]

Buddhism, among several other beliefs and practices borrowed vegetarianism from Hinduism to embrace Ahimsa.

invasions from Central Asia, Arabia, the Mughal empire, Persia, and elsewhere had a deep and fundamental effect on Indian cooking. Influence from traders such as the Arab and Portuguese diversified subcontinental tastes and meals. As with other cuisines, Indian cuisine has absorbed New World vegetables such as tomato, chilli, and potato, as staples.

The popularity of curry, which originated in India, across Asia has often led to the dish being labeled as the "pan-Asian" dish.[32] Curry's international appeal has also been compared to that of pizza.[33]

Though the tandoor did not originate in India, Indian tandoori dishes, such as chicken tikka made with Indian ingredients, enjoy widespread popularity.[34]

Historically, Indian spices and herbs were one of the most sought after trade commodities. The spice trade between India and Europe led to the rise and dominance of Arab traders to such an extent that European explorers, such as Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus, set out to find new trade routes with India leading to the Age of Discovery.[4]