The foods of India are diverse and beautiful. Being a huge country, regional favorites and staples are obviously very important. People living in different regions eat a variety of foods depending on what is most available. For instance, the North and South part of the country has an extremely different cuisine. However, there are some basic staples which are common everywhere. Though India is not a ‘vegetarian’ country, a lot of its people are. As such, there is a strong base of simple vegetarian food in the country. Even among people who eat meats and fish, a few vegetarian staples are common. The basic recipes of Indian cuisine are enhanced by the use of simple cooking techniques and spices.
1. Rice: This is a very staple and basic food in the country. It actually forms the basis of most meals eaten daily. Rice is taken in accompaniment with other dishes. The southern part of the country uses it more as a staple than the north. There are other varieties of rice as well, such as the pulao and the biriyani.
2. Roti: This is a staple part of the Indian diet and most people eat it at least once a day. Roti is basically the common name for bread and is almost always made by hand in Indian households. It is usually whole wheat bread and is very fibrous and healthy. Roti is typically eaten along with lentil soup and a vegetable dish. The ‘Naan’ is a variety of bread that is baked in a tandoori oven. There is another variety of bread called the ‘paratha’ which is fried in oil. Sometimes rotis are made after being filled with mashed vegetables and spices.
3. Potatoes: Potatoes are widely available and is used in a variety of ways in Indian cuisine. It is a vegetable that is popular with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian eaters. It forms an essential part of vegetable dishes, meat dishes, fish dishes, pakoras, samosas and parathas. Because of its high starch content, the potato is a filling and satisfying vegetable. A simple dry potato fried dish is something that is a staple in many Indian meals. Indians are known to put potatoes even in traditional Chinese dishes like the Fried Rice and Chowmein.
4. Paneer: This is nothing but cottage cheese and is a basic ingredient of Indian cuisine. It is especially popular with people who eat mostly vegetarian food because of its high protein content. Paneer is made with milk and is used to make dishes like Alu Paneer, Matar Paneer, Kadai Paneer and Paneer Sabzi. Indians love their paneer so much that they even put it in their rice, pakoras, parathas and what not. Paneer is a versatile ingredient and its mild taste goes with almost all other ingredients.
If you are just starting out with cooking Indian food, it is a good idea to get the basic recipes right first. This article will give you a good idea about what it is you have to learn.
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