Hilde Lee: Indian cuisine, Islamic world had a lasting influence | eat

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India really is a world of its own – a country almost of itself. From the Kashmir Valley to Cape Comorin, it encompasses as much land as Western Europe. The holy earth of “Mother India” has more people than in Western Europe. With so much land and so many people, it’s no wonder there is so much variety in food.

The foods of India and the Indian way of serving them have evolved over thousands of years. In contrast, true French cuisine only dates back to the 18th century. Indian cuisine is of such great variety and delicacy that it is only surpassed by Chinese and some French cuisines. And no, Indian cuisine is not just based on curries.

Some say that curry is not really Indian and that Indians do not use ready-mixed curry powders. The word “curry” occurs in both North and South India. For the Indians, it means a dish made from vegetables or meat with a hot sauce, not a dry dish. The claim that Indians never use prepared curry powder is likely true as the curry mixes are freshly ground and leftover powder is saved for future use.

Curry powders differ greatly in strength and taste. In general, the Indian powders are hotter than the finished ones we get in our stores. (The ones you buy in a spice shop here are more authentic.) All Indian curry powders contain the same six ingredients: coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, paprika, and cayenne or chilli. As in India, the servings of each spice vary from house to house. More coriander is usually used.


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