India and food is almost synonymous. Not only the language, customs and culture change after every few hundred kilometres in India, but the taste of the people also changes. And because of this, India is home to a variety of lip-smacking dishes. One simply cannot stop himself from drooling when the aroma of Indian cuisine mixes with the air around him. The Indian cuisine is not only known for its taste or the blend of spices, but also each cuisine tells us more about the culture of that particular area. It is aptly said that the true culture of the country is found in the “Khau-gallis” of India.
Indian Cuisine made its debut into the international market in the 1800s. The story goes like, the then Queen of England was so impressed with the Indian cuisine that she ordered Indian food to be made every day in the royal kitchen. Today, there are more than 10,000 establishments in England that serve Indian dishes and in 2001, Chicken Tikka Masala became the national dish of England along with Fish and Chips! So the Indian Cuisine now rules the country which once ruled India herself!
Below are the slices of India that the entire world craves for:
- Chicken Tikka Masala
When Kundan Lal Gujral saw that the Tandoori chicken would dry up hanging on the seekh all day, he thought that instead of throwing away those pieces of chicken in the trash can, (even thinking about it causes pain!), why not throw those pieces into a basic tomato, onion and spicy gravy! And thus, history was created! Traditionally cooked in clay pots, heavily laced with home-made butter, just the aroma of this dish can melt the heart of the toughest of souls! Though most restaurants outside of India do not make the original version of this dish, they still retain the elemental flavour which makes it what it is!
The name is enough to make you drool! This classic Indian blend of rice and chicken has more variants than any other dish! Traditionally, chicken or mutton marinated in curd and fragrant spices is mixed with rice and slow cooked for hours. Modifications specific to various regions is what keeps this dish interesting. While some keep it classic, many restaurants resort to mixing the rice with a pre-cooked gravy for the moist flavoursome appeal and then add the meat. Whichever way it is, the Biryani is sexy, and the world knows it! It is a gift to your eyes and your taste buds from the country of spices!
A mixture of curd, potatoes, boiled white peas, spices and herbs, this dish is found in nooksand corners all over the world. Its simplicity and versatility makes it a success. Panipuri or Golgappa or Phuchka (it is widely named!) is another extremely popular snack. These little fried balls of goodness can be found all over the world today. Now, healthy snacking can be made extremely delicious and tasty. Uncalled guests? Serve some chaat! Bored of your routine dinner? Throw in some chaat! Sick and taste buds are craving for some taste? BRING ON THE CHAAAATT!!
Another popular Indian snack that has made its way into our regular lives is the samosa. This innocent dish of crispy fried dough triangles stuffed with flavoured mashed potatoes has gone international with its versatility. These little pockets of happiness can be stuffed with practically anything that suits your taste buds (and mood, ofcourse!), and can be made in both savoury and sweet forms. Dip them in a tangy tamarind chutney or a spicy coriander and green chilli chutney and you are ready to experience heaven.
- South Indian Food
South Indian fare has set up a firm foot all over the world. While many places serve South Indian food exclusively, most Indian restaurants abroad serve the basic rice flour idli and dosa. Soft, steamed idlis are not just extremely healthy, but are absolutely delicious with coconut chutney and sambhar. Crispy fried dosas are a breakfast favourite and is the father of versatility and can accompany practically any gravy. Though traditionally made with coconut, the chutney can also be made with onions, tomatoes, chillies and coriander! Relish the fermented beauty!
The Mughals handled meat like nobody else. They introduced the art of making kebabs to India and then there was no looking back. Kebabs are loved by people all over. Minced meat is combined with a variety of spices and then cooked in skewers over a charcoal fire. What results is juicy, delicious meat infused with several flavours that can be enjoyed as a snack or with flat breads like roomali rotis or naan. Made most commonly with mutton, it can also be made with fish or chicken. Close your eyes and feel’em melt in your mouths, folks!
Like butter is to bread, cheese is to pizza, like that naan is to the Indian gravies! Cooked in the same clay oven as the chicken, that is how the naan gets its distinct burnt, charcoal flavour which distinguishes it from other flat breads. The flour can be kneaded with a variety of spices and herbs, like garlic, coriander, etc. One of the most popular versions is the butter naan which is not just kneaded with butter, but has a generous layer of it on top when served. The stuffed cousins are called kulcha. (FYI – The famous Pita bread is inspired from this!)
- Palak Paneer
If you need your food to be healthy, delicious and innovative, Palak Paneer is your bestfriend! Made essentially with spinach and cottage cheese (paneer), this is the star of the table when it comes to vegetarian fare. Add a few naans or rotis to it and you have a complete meal, full of flavour and nutrients.
What do the vegetarians do when they see their non-vegetarian friends relishing Butter Chicken? Well, they invent its vegetarian sibling, that is, the Dal Makhani! A blend of various lentils, tomato puree and butter, this dish is the one that cannot be ignored. Who does not loves protein that is also yummy? Competing with the chicken curries, it has slowly but definitely made a place for itself in the world food map. We still believe in “Slow and steady wins the race”, don’t we?
This is in no way a complete list of all the popular Indian dishes across the globe. The number is huge! Indian cuisine has created a permanent place for itself in the hearts of millions across the globe and is here to stay. So which one is your favourite? *drools and jumps into a plate of butter chicken.*