I thought it was high time that I wrote a little piece about India on my blog; a country where I was born and has enriched my life in a way that I never imagined possible. Having grown up with parents who had an enormous appetite for good food and our family dining table we always attractively laid out with colourful food ranging from the simplest to the most luxurious. However, what I didn’t know until later was just how diverse Indian food was. It gives me great pride and pleasure t o share with my readers the following information.
India is a land of colourful diversity. It is a vast country, around 3.3 million square kilometres in area, which inevitably produced varied geographical and climatic conditions. From the mighty snow-clad Himalayas in the extreme north, the wonderfully fertile flat lands of the Indus and Ganges rivers, the sandy wastes of the deserts of Rajasthan to the wettest area with the highest rainfall in the world! Along the coast the tropical forests generate heat and humidity while the western mountains keep the Deccan plateau very dry and extremely hot.
It is also a land of many religions: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Buddhist. A variety of architectural monuments such as the numerous temples, mosques, churches etc. are evidence of their impact on the land. Religious influence on Indian food has been profound. The two main religions, Hindu and Muslim have certain ‘taboos’. For example, Hindus do not eat beef as the cow was the companion of Lord Krishna, which made it sacred. Muslims are prohibited in their holy book, ‘Koran’, from eating pork.
There are eighteen officially recognised languages and scores of dialects and these have influenced not only the names of different dishes but also the way in which these names are pronounced. Translation into non-phonetic English creates a number of options to the way in which an Indian word can be spelled.
The diverse climate of the country dictates the type of crops grown in different regions. This influenced Indian cuisine to a very great extent in the old days when transport and communications were poor. Each region had to use what grew naturally around them and use them imaginatively to create a wide range of dishes. This is one of the reasons why there are so many variations of the same recipe.
It was inevitable that a land with such varied aspects would give rise to a cuisine of essential diversity. A breath-taking range of food, with very clear regional differences, makes Indian cuisine a multi-dimensional tapestry which is as rich as it is colourful and as intoxicating as inimitable. Most aromatic of them all, Indian cuisine reflects the heritage of the people of its land, the influences of historical and cultural developments, religious beliefs and, of course, the geographical conditions of the country. India’s ability not only to absorb the different cultures that were imposed on it, but positively to encourage them to flourish individually, gave birth to a cuisine which is incomparable in its vastness and richness.
I am certainly very proud to be a part of this colourful culinary world of India and will happily continue to promote this exquisite cuisine throughout the globe.
Next time: The Food Heritage of India