Immigrating Indian Culture
Culture of India comprises diverse traditions of different regions and communities in the country. Here, every region has its own language, dance, music, festival, philosophy, cuisine, etc., to name a few. For instance, greetings differ on the basis of language and religion. People say Namaste (in Hindi), Namaskara (in Marathi), Vanakkam (in Tamil) and Sat Shri Akal (in Punjabi). Yoga, which lately gained popularity around the world, has originated in India. Ancient Indian architecture has been a prominent part of Indian Culture. Taj Mahal, previously recognised as one of the 7 wonders of the world, is considered as an ‘unrivalled architectural wonder’.
Indian Culture is the essence of each and every element of India. One can feel the Cultural Heritage just by a glimpse of it.
Indian Food and Regional Diversification
Just like any other aspect of the culture, Indian cuisines are also very diversified. The taste, fragrance, and colour are different in different parts of the country. Most people get curious when they learn about these differences. How can the food of different regions of India be different? The most basic ingredient is the reason why this dilemma exists. Indian Spices, popularly known as Indian Masala, bring the difference of taste, fragrance, and colour in every Indian Cuisine. In order to understand Indian culture, one needs to understand two things. Firstly, how is a particular Indian Cuisine cooked? And secondly, what do the ingredients and cuisines signify?
Indian Masala: A way of Life
A diverse variety of Indian Masala is used in a variety of forms. For Instance, Tej Patta (Bay Leaf) is used as a whole, Hari Mirch (Green Chilli Pepper) is chopped, Garam Masala is ground before used, Jeera (Cumin Seeds) is roasted, Chakra Phool (Star Anise) is sautéed, Haldi (Turmeric) is fried, and Dhaniya Patta (Coriander Leaves) is used as a topping.
Across the globe, some people love to add Indian spices in order to enhance the flavour and fragrance of the food. There are some people who hesitate to use them but appreciate the flavour they bring. Finally, there are people who dislike them. But, the question is how many people are actually aware of the association of spices with Indian Culture and have some understanding as to why spices are so prominent.
Flavour of Life
There are people who add spices to give a distinct flavour and fragrance to a cuisine. Adding spices to food is similar to adding adventure in their lives. Without Indian Masala, the food becomes very dull and boring. On the contrary, adding spices makes the food look, smell, and taste amazing. Similarly, life becomes boring without adventures. For example, some people give so much priority to work that they forget to take a timeout for themselves which is not only bad for their health but also quite boring and frustrating in the long run. On the other hand, life becomes extremely fun and lively if it gets mixed up with work, extra-curricular stuff, and a pinch of adventure.
Symbol of Joy and Prosperity
Indian Masala is a symbol of a colourful life. In Indian households, spices are considered as a symbol of joy and prosperity. The only point in life when food is cooked without spices is at the time of a funeral in order to reciprocate grief. On the other hand, spices are used in cuisines on occasions and festivals.
There are some spices which possess medicinal properties. Adrak (Ginger) is a commonly used spice which is actually an antioxidant. It treats nausea, reduces muscle pain, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and improves brain functionality. To read more about the benefits of ginger, click here.
Apart from ginger, Daalcheene (Cinnamon) is helpful in improving blood circulation, or during diarrhoea and common cold. Laung (Cloves) is known to contain anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Jeera (Cumin) provides the body with iron and magnesium. Kesar (Saffron), the most expensive spice in the world, possesses the power to treat depression, and improve memory. To view the complete list of medicinal Indian spices and their benefits in detail, click here.
How to make regional Indian Food taste Indian?
There is one question that is extremely popular not only amongst Non-Indians but also many Indians. The question is – How to make authentic Indian Cuisine? First thing’s first. One must understand the meaning of authentic in this context. Every Indian Cuisine belongs to a particular region or state. They are made using a specific set of ingredients which has remained constant for a very long time now. While cooking a cuisine, if changes are made in its recipe, it loses its authenticity.
Preparing any cuisine authentically is like a journey to that part of India. Use of ingredients allows understanding the nature of people and their culture. For instance, Gujarati Food has a very specific nature. It tends to have a sweet taste. Gujarati people add Cheene (Sugar) or Gud (Jaggery) in most food items. This phenomenon can only be seen in Gujarat. Why is it so?
Gujarat lies on the western coast of India. Also, most of Gujarat is a desert and a large producer of common salt. In earlier times, the drinking water also had considerable salt content. Therefore, they had to put sugar in order to nullify the salty flavour. This is how Gujarati Food picked up this flavour which has now become its symbol. The most important ingredient in an authentic Gujarati Curry is, therefore, sugar. This shows the level of optimism, simplicity, and wittiness of Gujarati people.
Apart from getting to know people and their culture, one also gets to know about the neighbouring areas. For instance, one of the most popular Indian Food is South-Indian Food. Suppose you own a restaurant and you are claiming to sell authentic South-Indian cuisines, then having Kadi Patta (Curry Leaves) and Imli (Tamarind) in the kitchen is a compulsion. What is the reason behind the prominent use of curry leaves and Tamarind in every south-Indian kitchen?
The reason is cultivation. Curry Leaves are extensively cultivated in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Along with these states, Tamarind is also cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, and other parts of central India. One of the most famous South-Indian curries is Sambar. It is a combination of vegetables, lentils, and spices. Among spices, Curry leaves and Tamarind are exclusively a part of South-Indian culture implying that they are not considered a part of other regional cultures in India.
It is one of the most famous Indian cuisines. Their food is known for a mouth-watering buttery flavour. Tandoori cooking, a Punjabi style of cooking is renowned and accepted worldwide. Apart from Tandoori cooking style, wood-fired and masonry Ovens are also closely associated with Punjabi Culture. There are a lot of Punjabi cuisines. A few of them are Makke di Roti (Corn flour Bread), Sarson da Saag (Mustard Greens Curry), Paratha (Fried Stuffed Bread), and Chole Masala (mix-spiced small Chickpeas). What is one thing which is common in these world-famous cuisines?
It is Desi Makkhan (home-made butter). Punjab has always been regarded as an agricultural state. Traditionally, every household in Punjab domesticated cows and buffalos. It is a part of their culture to extract milk from them and use home-made dairy products. This is why every Tandoori food item is garnished with a lot of butter before serving. Majority of people fail to cook authentic Punjabi cuisines because they try to find the authenticity in spices and groceries, but are unaware of the fact that the magic ingredient is home-made butter.
Diversity makes it a tricky business to understand regional cultures, especially in a country like India, where one can find cultural differences in every third village. The fact that there are some spices which are part of only one Indian culture (South-Indian) broadens people’s perspective towards cultural diversity in India.
The primary objective when cuisines of one region are brought to different regions is cultural globalization. But as humans, people are habitual to making assumptions about our surroundings instead of trying to gain some perspective. People across the globe have critical opinions about Indian Cuisines, but judging a book by its cover is not fair. Instead, understanding its connection with the culture, and then feeling the authentic flavour of the cuisine is the way to go.
So are you ready to explore the taste of India. Hop on and become a part of this curious journey with EasyCookAsia.
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