Spice Guide

North Indian

North Indian cuisine is distinguished by the higher proportion-wise use of dairy products; milk, paneer (cottage cheese), ghee (clarified butter), and yoghurt are all common ingredients, compared to that of southern India, where milk products, though consumed in large quantities, are usually used unaltered. North Indian gravies are typically dairy-based and employ thickening agents such as cashew or poppy seed paste. Milk-based sweets are also very popular fare, being a particular specialty in Bengal and Orissa. Other common ingredients include chillies, saffron, and nuts.

North Indian cooking features the use of the tandoor, a large and cylindrical coal-fired oven, for baking breads such as naan and khakhra; main courses like tandoori chicken also cook in it. Fish and seafood are very popular in the coastal states of Orissa and West Bengal.

Another important feature on North Indian cuisine are flat breads. These come in many different forms such as naan, paratha, roti, puri, bhatoora, and kulcha.

The samosa is a typical North Indian snack. These days it is common to get it in other parts of India as well. The most common (and authentic) samosa is filled with boiled, fried, and mashed potato, although it is possible to find other fillings.

North Indian cuisine has some typical details that are interesting. There are popular things like Buknu, Gujhiya, chaat, daal ki kachauri, jalebi, imarti, several types of pickles (known as achar), murabba, sharbat, pana, aam papad, and Poha-Jalebi.

There are several popular sweets (mithai) like mallai ki gillori, khurchan (from Mathura), petha (from Agra), rewdi (from Lucknow), gajak (from Meerut), milk cake (from Alwar), falooda, khaja (from Aligarh), Ras Malai, Gulab Jamun, Laddu, Barfi, Halwa, Gul Qand, and Balusahi.

The countries known as Pakistan and Bangladesh were a part of North and East India prior to the partition of India. As a result, the cuisines in these countries are very similar to northern and eastern Indian cuisine.

South Indian

South Indian cuisine is distinguished by a greater emphasis on rice as the staple grain, the liberal use of coconut and curry leaves particularly coconut oil, and the ubiquity of sambar and rasam (also called saaru) at meals.

South Indian cooking is even more vegetarian-friendly than north Indian cooking. The practice of naivedya, or ritual offerings, to Krishna at the Krishna Mutt temple in Udipi, Karnataka, has led to the Udipi style of vegetarian cooking. The variety of dishes which must be offered to Krishna forced the cooks of the temple to innovate. Traditional cooking in Udupi Ashtamatha is characterized by the use of local seasonal ingredients. Garam masala is generally avoided in South Indian cuisine.

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