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Indian Food – Exclusive in Its Simplicity and Diversity

Every human being needs food to survive and one of the first lessons that we learn in life is that we must eat in order to live. Most often our food patterns are a direct result of the place which we live in where as what we eat is determined by factors such as geographic location, climate, culture, tradition and religion. While the evolution of some cuisines is based on just one or two of the above mentioned factors, the Indian cuisine is unique because it owes its gradual evolution to umpteen factors and yet has been successful in retaining its simplicity.

Whenever there is a mention of Indian food, the first image which comes to mind is that of a variety of spices which are visibly discernible courtesy of their color, flavor and aroma. Indian food is indeed replete with spices of many types and while ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chili powder and cumin are added in almost all preparations, the addition of certain spices like dried red chilies, curry leaves and mustard seeds depends upon the style of preparation being employed and expectations pertaining to the taste of the dish. However, the credibility of the cook lies in adding the spices in perfect proportions so as to come up with well flavored food as opposed to loading them indiscriminately.

Indians attribute a lot of importance to breakfast, known as nashta, and this is taken after the customary cup of tea or coffee which marks the beginning of the day. While nashta in north India features rotis, parathas, a vegetable preparation, pickles and curd, in the southern belt it is idli or dosas accompanied by chutney and in the western region it comprises of dhokla and milk.

Lunch is an important meal of the day for Indians and calls for elaborate preparations in form of at least 2-3 vegetable dishes, curd, a variety of desserts and wrapped up with paan. The main dish during lunch varies from region to region but is usually either rice or roti or both. Indian food in the evenings consists of a cup of tea or coffee with some snacks while dinner serves the purpose of bringing together the family followed by desserts which may be traditional or fruit-based.

Vegetables have been an integral part of Indian food ever since its origin during the Harappan civilization and one is likely to find a wide variety of vegetarian dishes in any Indian meal, some of the common inclusions being spinach, potatoes, cauliflower, okra, green beans, tomatoes and green peas. While certain castes completely abstain from non-vegetarian food including eggs as well, people in general eat egg and meat preparations which are native to the particular area. People in coastal areas treat fish and coconuts as their staple diet while those inhabiting arid areas like Rajasthan and Gujarat depend on pulses, legumes and pickles to compensate for the lack of vegetables.

Beef is avoided by Hindus due to religious reasons due to which it is not served in most households and pork is not consumed much as well because of being unhealthy and unhygienic state of pigs in most parts of the country.