The first thing to do in talking about Indian cooking is that of the popular misconceptions that the cuisines are hot and unsanitary. As regarding to the reference of "hot" most Indian dishes are spiced only enough to make them interesting and to act as a pick-me-up for jaded hot weather appetites. The second misconception for no earthly reason for them to be loaded with fierce microbes since they have almost all been cooked long and thoroughly. Hence most travellers will find that if they no longer fear an ulcerated digestive tract or a rare tropical disease they can sit right down and enjoy the gastronomic possibilities that India offers.

Rice and Sambar is the staple food in south. Roti and Dhal is the staple food in North. But one can easily be amused with the variety of dishes available in India; some as far as from the western and eastern frontiers. There has been a lot of migration of Indian dishes from one part of India to another. Historians reveal that cuisines are a part of Dowry with the royals and this was the main reason for numerous dishes available in India. The names of the same thing change from place to place in the country and even the travelling Indian himself is in almost as much linguistic difficulty as the neophyte foreign tourist.

No one can convince that Indian cooking is as bland as a milk pudding - the evidence is to the contrary but it won't take the skin of your tongue either. There are about twenty five commonly used spices. They not only give an added fillip to the food but give the cook a chance to use some imagination and show off his talent. In India spices are treated with care, not to say awe, by the cook.

The spices have distinct medicinal uses and the Indian cook has his eye on a given effect other than purely gastronomic one. For example

Turmeric powder - is used in almost everything - helps to preserve food and gives it a pleasant yellow colour. It is also a very good cleaning agent for vegetables and meat.

Chillies - Different types of chillies like the whole, green, dry, red or powdered are used in India. Contrary to what you might suppose, the little green ones are the most lethal.

Ginger - It is considered good for digestion and many people like it not only in food but in crystallized form after a meal.

Mustard, Cinnamon, Nutmeg , Pepper, Clove, Poppy and Caraway seeds though are all familiar to Western cooks; they are likely to taste better in India because they are unimpeachably fresh. The famous Garam Masala is a combination of cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns.

Cardamoms - are strong and sweet and used in almost every Indian desert and in some of the richer main dishes.

Saffron - is delicate and costly since several thousand flowers is needed to produce a pound of it. Fortunately it does not take much to give a pale yellow colour and subtle fragrance to rice or curries.

Below we will initiate into some of the more complicated culinary mysteries.


A very common word know to tourists visiting India, this universal Indian dish, whose name covers the best - Curry can be made with anything - meat, fish, eggs, vegetable etc. Fried in ghee or a vegetable fat, it is always more or less spiced according to the cook's fancy and is always served with rice or Indian breads. There are vegetables in India you have never seen before and will never see again, no matter most of them are quite tasteless in their natural state and are only rendered palatable through intelligent preparations.

Kuzhi Paniyaram

In Tamil is a dish made by steaming batter - traditionally made from pulses (specifically black lentils) and rice using a mould. The batter used is the same as that for idli and dosa. Kuzhi paniyarams can be made sweet or spicy. The spicy version has sauteed onions and green chillies mixed with the batter.