Generally when you ask somebody about Indian food they will spout adjectives like hot, spicy, rich, fatty, and curry. However, trying to characterize Indian cuisine in just a few words is an incredibly daunting task. The country is home to a vast array of regional cuisines, and the food evolved over thousands of years based on internal and external influences. Those who are passionate about Indian cuisine would argue that preparing the food involves an intricate blending of spices and ingredients that make it something of an art. So let’s address some of the many misconceptions about the cuisine with these 5 things you didn’t know about Indian food.
- Not all Indian food is spicy. In fact, most Indian dishes incorporate a variety of spices, but this is not what makes particular dishes spicy. Many recipes call for chilies or other “hot” spices, but these can almost always be omitted as a matter of taste. Moreover, some dishes have a very simple spice profile, and some require only one or two spices.
- Indian food is healthy. While it’s true that many curry dishes may be a little heavy with respect to fat content, Indian food is really what you make of it. Like you wouldn’t expect all Japanese dishes to feature rice, you shouldn’t expect all Indian dishes to feature fat. Many recipes can be augmented with respect to oil or fat content, and there are a wide range of dishes that do not require oil at all. Indian cooking is also full of vegetables and healthy spices cooked so that they have a rich and satisfying flavour. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, and green chillies are commonly used in Indian recipes and they’re all known for their positive health benefits.
- Indian food can be easy to cook. Some recipes take time and effort to fully develop flavours, but this is true of just about any cuisine in the world. Some of the most popular Indian dishes are actually quick and easy. Tandoor chicken, mutter paneer, bhindi ki subji are just a few examples of recipes that are easy to prepare.
- There is no such thing as “curry”. For inexperienced diners, curry seems to be the only ingredient in Indian food, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. First of all, “curry” is generally a collection of spices known as garam masala. The basic ingredients in garam masala are similar but the final recipe can even vary between households.
- Indian food has diverse regional characteristics. Whether you’re talking about north/south/east/west or various provinces in India, the cuisine varies significantly. Northern Indian food is probably the most popular internationally. Meats and vegetables cooked in a tandoor are common and cream is often used in marinades. Nevertheless, Indian cuisine is incredibly diverse, so you can enjoy trying new and interesting varieties from all over the country.