Cuisine differs across India’s diverse regions as a result of variation in local culture, geographical location (proximity to sea, desert, or mountains) and economics. It also varies seasonally, depending on which fruits and vegetables are ripe.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Seafood plays a major role in the cuisine of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Since the indigenous Andamanese traditionally had very little contact with the outside world, raw fish and fruits have long been a staple diet for them. Immigration from other regions of India, however, has resulted in variations in the cuisine.
Pesarattu, a popular Andhra dish, served with kobbari pachadi (chutney made using coconut)
Main articles: Telugu cuisine and Hyderabadi cuisine
Cuisine of Andhra Pradesh is a blend of Telugu cuisine along with Hyderabadi cuisine (also known as Nizami cuisine). The food is rich in spices, for which it is popular among south Indian cuisine. Rice is the staple food of Andhra people. Starch is consumed with a variety of curries and lentil soups orbroths. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods are both popular. Seafood is common in the coastal region of the state. Hyderabadi cuisine includes popular delicacies such as Biryani, Hyderabadi Haleem, Baghara baingan and kheema. Various pickles are part of local cuisine, popular among those areavakaya (a pickle made from raw mango) and gongura (a pickle made from red sorrel leaves). Yogurt is a common addition to meals, as a way of temperingspiciness. Breakfast items like dosa, vada are influenced by spices native to Andhra Pradesh.
Main article: Cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh
The staple food of Arunachal Pradesh is rice, along with fish, meat and leaf vegetables. Many varieties of rice are used. Lettuce is the most common vegetable, usually prepared by boiling with ginger, coriander and green chillies. Boiled rice cakes wrapped in leaves are a popular snack. Thukpa is a kind of noodle soup common among the Monpa tribe of the region. Native tribes of Arunachal are meat eaters and use fish, eggs, chicken, pork and mutton to make their dishes. Apong or rice beer made from fermented rice or millet is a popular beverage in Arunachal Pradesh and is consumed as a refreshing drink. Assam
Main article: Assamese cuisine
An Assamese food containing boiled rice mixed with salt and mustard oil and boil potato mixed with onion, green chilli, salt and mustard oil.
Panta Ilish—a traditional platter of Panta bhat with fried ilish slice, supplemented with dried fish (shutki), pickles (achar), dal, green chillies, and onion—is a popular dish for the Pohela Boishakh festival. Assamese cuisine is a mixture of different indigenous styles, with considerable regional variation and some external influences. Although it is known for its limited use of spices, Assamese cuisine has strong flavors from its use of endemic herbs, fruits, and vegetables served fresh, dried or fermented. Fish is widely eaten. The region’s cuisine involves simple cooking processes. Bhuna, the gentle frying of spices before the addition of the main ingredients, generally common in Indian cooking, is absent in the cuisine of Assam. A traditional meal in Assam begins with a khar, a class of dishes named after the main ingredient and ends with a tenga, a sour dish. The food is usually served in bell metalutensils. Paan, the practice of chewing betel nut, generally concludes a meal.
Main article: Bihari cuisine
See also: Bhojpuri cuisine and Mithila (India)
Palak paneer, a dish made from spinachand paneer (cottage cheese) Bihari cuisine is wholesome and simple. It is mainly influenced by their neighbours. Biharies are fond of meat. Litti chokha, a baked salted wheat flour cake filled with sattu ( baked chickpea flour ) and some special spices, is famous among the middle-class families. Meat saalan is a famous dish made of lamb curry in garam masala and cubed potatoes. Dalpuri is another popular dish in Bihar. It is salted wheatflour bread, filled with boiled, crushed and fried gram pulses. Malpua is a popular sweet dish of Bihar, prepared by a mixture of maida, milk, banana, grated coconut, cashew nut, raisin, sugar, water and green cardamom. Another famous sweet dish of Bihar is Balushahi which is prepared by a specially treated combination of maida and sugar along with ghee. During the festival of Chhath, thekua, a sweet dish made of ghee, jaggery, whole-meal flour, flavoured with aniseed, is made.
Chattisgarh cuisine uses many foods not found in the rest of India, although the staple food is rice, like in much of the country. Many Chattisgarhi people drink liquor brewed from the Mahuwa flower. The tribal people of the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh eat whatever is available, including food which would not be eaten by people of other states and regions, such as red ant chutney. Flying ants, mushrooms, squirrels, bamboo pickle, bamboo vegetable, suran ki sabji and but fish a large part of Chhatisgarhi cuisine.
]Daman and Diu
Daman and Diu is a union territory of India which, like Goa, was a former colonial possession of Portugal. Consequently, both native Gujarati food and traditional Portuguese food are common. Being a coastal region, the communities are mainly dependent on sea food. Normally, Rotli and tea are taken for breakfast, Rotla and saag for lunch andchokha along with saag and curry are taken for dinner. Some of the dishes prepared on festive occasions include, puri, lapsee, potaya, dudh-plag, dhakanu. While alcohol is prohibited in the neighbouring state of Gujarat, drinking is common in Daman and Diu. All popular brands of alcohol are readily available.
Main article: Goan cuisine
See also: Saraswat cuisine and Malvani cuisine
Pork Vindaloo (pictured). Vindaloo is a popular curry dish in Goa. The area has a tropical climate and the spices and flavors here are intense. Use of kokum is a distinct feature of the region’s cuisine. Goan cuisine is mostly seafood based; the staple foods are rice and fish. Kingfish (Vison or Visvan) is the most common delicacy, and others include pomfret, shark,tuna, and mackerel; these are often served with coconut milk. Shellfish, including crabs, prawns, tiger prawns, lobster, squid and mussels are commonly eaten. The cuisine of Goa is influenced by its Hindu origins, four hundred years of Portuguese colonialism, and modern techniques.Bread is eaten with most of the meals. Frequent tourism in the area gives Goan food an international aspect. Brahmins belonging to Pancha Dravidaare strict vegetarians.
Main article: Gujarati cuisine
Khaman is a popular Gujarati snack.
Gujarati cuisine is primarily vegetarian. The typical Gujarati thali consists of roti (rotli in Gujarati), daal or kadhi, rice, sabzi/shaak and papad. Thesabzi is a dish of different combinations of vegetables and spices which may be stir fried, spicy or sweet. Gujarati cuisine can vary widely in flavor and heat based on personal and regional tastes. North Gujarat, Kathiawad, Kachchh, and South Gujarat are the four major regions of Gujarati cuisine. Many Gujarati dishes are simultaneously sweet, salty, and spicy. In mango season keri no ras (fresh mango pulp), is often an integral part of the meal. Spices also vary seasonally. For example, garam masala is used less in summer. Regular fasting, with diets limited to milk, dried fruit, and nuts, is a common practice.
Kadhi, a spicy north Indian dish
Cattle being common in Haryana, dairy products are a common component of its cuisine. Specific dishes include kadhi, pakora, besan masalaroti, bajra aloo roti, churma, kheer, bathua raita, methi gajar, singri ki sabzi, and tamatar chutney. Lassi and sharbat are two popular non-alcoholic beverages in Haryana. Liquor stores are common there, which cater to the traffic of many truck drivers.
Main article: Culture of Himachal Pradesh#Cuisine
The daily diet of Himachal people is similar to that of the rest of North India, including lentils, broth, rice, vegetables, and bread, although non-vegetarian cuisine is preferred. Some of the specialities of Himachal include sidu, patande and til chutney.
Jammu and Kashmir
Main article: Cuisine of Kashmir
Rogan Josh is a popular Kashmiri dish.
Kashmiri cuisine has evolved over hundreds of years. Its first major influence was the food of the Kashmiri Hindus and Buddhists. The cuisine was later influenced by the cultures which arrived with the invasion of Kashmir by Timur from the area of modern Uzbekistan. Subsequently influences have included the cuisines of Central Asia, Persia, and the North Indian plains. The most notable ingredient in Kashmiri cuisine is mutton, of which there are over 30 varieties. Wazwan is a multicourse meal in the Kashmiri Muslim tradition, of which, the preparation is considered an art. Kashmiri Pandit food is elaborate, and an important part of the Pandits’ ethnic identity. Kashmiri Pandit cuisine usually uses yogurt, oils, and spices such as turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin, ginger, and fennel, though they do not use onion and garlic.
Main article: Traditional cuisine of Jharkhand
Traditional Jharkhand dishes are not available at restaurants, as they have not been commercialised. Prepared exclusively in tribal regions, this cuisine uses oil and spices infrequently, except for pickle production and special occasions.Baiganee Chop, a snack made of brinjal slices or egg plant, is popular in Jharkhand. Thekua is a sweet dish made of sugar, wheat, flour and chopped coconuts. Hadia, which is made out of paddy rice is a refreshing drink. A wide variety of recipes are prepared with different types of rice in Jharkhand which include recipes like Dhuska, Pittha and different kinds of Rotis prepared with rice.
Main article: Cuisine of Karnataka
Karnataka food served on a plantain leaf
Varieties in the cuisine of Karnataka reflect influences from the three neighbouring South Indian states, as well as the states of Maharashtra and Goa to its North. Typical dishes include bisi bele bath, jolada rotti, chapati, ragi rotti, akki rotti, saaru, huli, vangibath, khara bath, kesari bath, benne dose, ragi mudde, and uppittu. The Kodagu district is famous for spicy pork curries (pig curry) while coastal Karnataka specializes in seafood. Although the ingredients differ regionally, a typical Kannadiga Oota (Kannadiga meal) is served on a banana leaf. The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi have slightly varying cuisines, which make extensive use of coconut in curries and frequently include seafood.
Main article: Cuisine of Kerala
Spicy fish from Kerala
Kerala cuisine blends indigenous dishes with foreign ones adapted to local tastes. Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala, so grated coconut and coconut milk are commonly used for thickening and flavouring. Kerala’s long coastline and numerous rivers have led to a strong fishing industry in the region, making seafood a common part of the meal. Rice is grown in abundance; along with tapioca. It is the main starch ingredient used in Kerala’s food. Having been a major production area of spices for thousands of years, the region makes frequent use of black pepper, cardamom, clove, ginger, and cinnamon. Most of Kerala’s Hindus, except its Brahmin community, eat fish, and non-vegetarian foods; common among these are chicken, beef, pork catering to Kerala’s large minorities of Muslims and Christians. In most Kerala households, a typical meal consists of rice, fish, and vegetables. Kerala also has a variety of breakfast dishes like idli, dosa, appam, idiyappam, puttu, and pathiri.
The culinary influence of Kerala is quite evident in the cuisines of Lakshadweep, since the island lies in close proximity to Kerala. Coconut and sea fish serve as the foundations of most of the meals. The people of Lakshadweep drink large amounts of coconut water, which is the most abundant aerated drink on the island.
Daal Bafla, a popular dish in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat The cuisine in Madhya Pradesh varies regionally. Wheat and meat are common in the North and West of the state, while the wetter South and East are dominated by rice and fish. Milk is a common ingredient in Gwalior and Indore. The street food of Indore is renowned, with shops that have been active for generations. Bhopal is known for meat and fish dishes such as rogan josh, korma, keema, biryani, pilaf and kebabs. There is street named “Chatori Gali” in old Bhopal where one can find traditional Muslim non-veg fare like Paya Soup, Bun Kabab, Nalli-Nihari as some of the specialties.
Dal bafla is a common meal in the region, consisting of a steamed and grilled wheat cake dunked in rich ghee which is eaten with daal and ladoos. The culinary specialty of the Malwa region of central Madhya Pradesh is poha (flattened rice); usually eaten at breakfast with jalebi. Beverages in the region include lassi, beer, and rum and sugarcane juice. A local liquor is distilled from the flowers of the mahua tree and date palm toddy is also popular. In tribal regions, a popular drink is the sap of the sulfi tree, which may be alcoholic if it has gone through fermentation.
Famous Bastar Beer prepared from Sulfi
Main article: Maharashtrian cuisine
Poha, a popular breakfast dish in Maharashtra
Maharashtrian cuisine includes a range of dishes from mild to very spicy tastes. Bajri, wheat, rice, jowar, vegetables, lentils, and fruit form important components of the Maharashtrian diet. Popular dishes include puran poli, ukdiche modak, batata wada,masala bhat and wada pav. Shrikhand, a sweet dish made of strained yoghurt, is a main dessert of Maharashtrian cuisine. The cuisine of Maharashtra can be divided into two major sections—the coastal and the interior. The Konkan, on the coast of the Arabian Sea has its own type of cuisine, a homogeneous combination of Malvani, Goud Saraswat Brahmin, and Goan cuisines.
In the interior of Maharashtra, the Vidarbha and Marathwada areas have their own distinct cuisines. Apart from Konkan, the state’s cuisine uses ground nuts, jaggery, wheat, jowar, and bajra extensively. A typical meal consists of rice and poli (roti) both along with varan and aamtee—lentils and spiced vegetables. Like other coastal states, there is an enormous variety of vegetables eaten, and fish and coconuts are common. Peanuts and cashews are often served with vegetables. Grated coconuts are used to flavor many types of dishes, but coconut oil is not widely used; peanut oil is preferred. Kokum, most commonly served chilled, in an appetizer-digestive called sol kadhi, is prevalent. During summer, Maharashtrians consume panha, a drink made from raw mango.
Main article: Manipuri cuisine
Manipuri cuisine typically features spicy foods that use chili pepper rather than garam masala. The staple diet consists of rice, leafy vegetables, and fish. About 60 years ago most of the Valley people did not eat meat except fish. Manipuris typically raise vegetables in kitchen gardens and rear fish in small ponds around their homes. The Umarok is a very popular chili in the area, also known by names such as naga jolokia or “ghost chili” (inUS media).
Main article: Meghalayan cuisine
Meghalayan cuisine is unique and different from other northeastern Indian states. Spiced meat is common, from goats, pigs, fowl, ducks, and cows. In the Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts, common foods include jadoh, ki kpu, tung-rymbai, and pickled bamboo shoots. Other common foods in Meghalaya include minil songa (steamed sticky rice), sakkin gata, and momo dumplings. Like other tribes in the northeast, the Garos ferment rice beer, which they consume in religious rites and secular celebrations.
The cuisine of Mizoram differs from that of most of India, though it shares characteristics with other cuisines from the northeastern part of the country. Mizo cuisine blends Chinese and North Indian cuisines, offering mainly non-vegetarian delicacies. Dishes are served on fresh banana leaves. Meals tend to be less spicy than in most of India. A popular dish is bai, made from boilingspinach with pork and bamboo shoots and served with rice. Sawchair is another common dish, made of rice and cooked with pork or chicken.
Dried fish, prawns, ghost chili, and preserved colocasia leaves are common ingredients in Naga cuisine The cuisine of Nagaland reflects that of the Naga people. It is known for exotic pork meats cooked with simple and flavorful ingredients, like the extremely hot bhut jolokia pepper, fermented bamboo shoots and soya beans. The Naga use oil sparingly, preferring to ferment, dry, and smoke their meats and fish. Traditional homes in Nagaland have external kitchens that serve as smokehouses.
Main article: Oriya cuisine
Chungdi Jhola is a spicy gravy based prawn curry with different flavours of spices. The cuisine of Orissa relies heavily on local ingredients. Flavors are usually subtle and delicately spiced, unlike the spicy curries typically associated with Indian cuisine. Fish and other seafood, such as crab and shrimp, are very popular, and chicken and mutton are also consumed. Panch phutana, a mix of cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek and kalonji (nigella) is widely used for flavoring vegetables and dals, while garam masala and turmeric are commonly used for meat-based curries. Pakhala, a dish made of rice, water, and yogurt, that is fermented overnight, is very popular in summer in rural areas. Oriyas are very fond of sweets, so dessert follows most meals.
The union territory of Pondicherry was a French colony for around 200 years, making French cuisine a strong influence on the area. The influence of the neighboring areas, such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala is also visible on the territory’s cuisine. Some favorite dishes include coconut curry, tandoori potato, soya dosa, podanlangkai, curried vegetables, stuffed cabbage, and baked beans.
Main article: Punjabi cuisine
Tandoori chicken is a popular grilled dish.
The cuisine of Punjab is known for its diverse range of dishes. Home-cooked and restaurant Punjabi cuisine can vary significantly. Restaurant-style Punjabi cooking uses large amounts of ghee, butter and cream, while home-cooked equivalents center around whole wheat, rice, and other ingredients flavored with masala. Regional differences also exist in Punjabi cuisine. For example, people of Amritsar prefer stuffed paratha and dairy products. Certain dishes are exclusive to Punjab, such as makke di roti and saron da saag. The main masala in a Punjabi dish consists of onion, garlic and ginger. Much of this food was made to meet the demands of traditional Punjabi lifestyle, with high calorie counts to support rural workers. Tandoori food is a Punjabi specialty, especially with non-vegetarian dishes. Many of the most popular elements of Anglo-Indian cuisine, such as tandoori foods, naan, pakoras and vegetable dishes with paneer, are derived from Punjabi styles.
Main article: Rajasthani cuisine
Cooking in Rajasthan, an arid region, has been strongly shaped by the availability of ingredients. Because water is at a premium, food is generally cooked in milk or ghee, making it quite rich. Gram flour is a mainstay of Marwari food mainly due to the scarcity of vegetables in the area. Historically, food that could last for several days and be eaten without heating was preferred. Major dishes of a Rajasthani meal may include daal-baati,tarfini, raabdi, ghewar, bail-gatte, panchkoota, chaavadi, laapsi, kadhi and boondi. Typical snacks include bikaneri bhujia, mirchi bada, pyaaj kachori, and dal kachori. Daal-baati is the most popular dish prepared in the state. It is usually supplemented with choorma, a mixture of finely grinded baked rotis, sugar and ghee.
Main article: Sikkimese cuisine
Momo is served in a tomato-based broth.
In Sikkim, various ethnic groups such as the Nepalese, Bhutias, and Lepchas have their own distinct cuisines. Rice is the staple food of the area, and meat and dairy products are also widely consumed. For centuries, traditional fermented foods and beverages have constituted about 20 per cent of the local diet. Depending on altitudinal variation, finger millet, wheat, buckwheat, barley, vegetable, potato, and soybeans are grown. Momo, gya thuk,ningro, gundruk, phagshapa and sael roti are some of the local dishes. Alcoholic drinks are consumed by both men and women. Beef is eaten by theBhutias.
Main article: Sindhi cuisine
Sindhi cuisine refers to the native cuisine of the Sindhi people from the Sindh region, now in Pakistan. While Sindh is not geographically a part of modern India, its food is there, where a sizeable number of Sindhi people who are Hindu by religion migrated following the Partition of India, especially in Sindhi enclaves such as Ulhasnagar and Gandhidam. A typical meal in most Sindhi households consists of wheat-based flatbread (phulka) and rice accompanied by two dishes, one with gravy and one dry. Lotus stem (called as kamal kakri) is also used in sindhi dishes. Cooking vegetables by deep frying is a common practice followed. Sindhi cuisine is mostly influenced by Punjab and Gujarat state. Some common ingredients used are mango powder, tamarind, kokum flowers and dried pomegranate seeds.
Main article: Cuisine of Tamil Nadu
Dosa served with chutney and sambar
Tamil food is characterized by its use of rice, legumes, and lentils, along with distinct aromas and flavours achieved by the blending of spices such ascurry leaves, tamarind, coriander, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, coconut and rose water. Tamil food is characterized by tiffins, which is a light food taken for breakfast or dinner and meals which are usually taken during lunch. The word “curry” is derived from the Tamil kari, meaning something similar to “sauce”. The southern regions of Madurai, Karaikudi, and Chettinad are famous for their spicy non-vegetarian dishes. Dosa and idli are some of the popular dishes and are eaten with chutney and sambar. Tripura
Main article: Tripuri cuisine
A bowl of thukpa
The Tripuri people are the original inhabitants of the state of Tripura in northeast India. Today, they comprise the communities of Tipra, Reang, Jamatia,Noatia, and Uchoi among others. The Tripuri are non-vegetarian, although they have a minority of Vaishnavite vegetarians. The major ingredients of Tripuri cuisine include pork, chicken, mutton, turtle, fish, shrimps, crabs, and frogs.
Main article: Cuisine of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradeshi thali (platter) with naan,daal, raita, shahi paneer, and salad Traditionally, Uttar Pradeshi cuisine consists of Awadhi and Mughlai cuisine, though a vast majority of the state is vegetarian, preferring dal, roti,sabzi, and rice. Pooris and kachoris are eaten on special occasions. Chaat, samosa and pakora, among the most popular snacks in India, originate from Uttar Pradesh. Famous dishes include kebabs, dum biryani, and various mutton recipes. Sheer Qorma, Ghewar, Gulab Jamun, Kheer,Ras Malai are some of the popular desserts in this region.
Main article: Kumauni cuisine
Saag is a popular Kumauni dish made from any of the various green vegetables like spinach and fenugreek. The food from Uttrakhand is known to be wholesome to suit the high-energy necessities of the cold, mountainous region. It is traditionally cooked over wood fire. The cuisine mainly consists of food from two different sub regions—Garhwal and Kumaon—though their basic ingredients are the same. Use of spices like jambu, rai, timmer, ghandhraini, bhangira add bhang is common. A distinctive trait of Kumauni cuisine is the infrequent use of dairy products, as cows from hilly areas do not yield much milk. Both the Garhwal and Kumaon styles make liberal use of ghee, charcoal cooking, lentils or pulses, and bhaatt (rice). To combat the extreme winters and possible exhausting of food, they also use Badi (sun-dried Urad Dal balls) and Mangodi(sun-dried Moong Dal balls) as substitute for vegetables at times. In general, Uttarkhand cuisine resembles that of Uttar Pradesh.
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