The Great Indian Culinary History

This is not just a Blog; this is a story, a story so magnificent that it brings all our senses to life. This story is about a journey that began 4000 years ago, during which cultures have changed, geographical boundaries have changed.

Welcome to the land of gastronomic wonder- INDIA.

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Most people believe that the origins of Indian history and therefore the cuisine are as old as humankind itself. The earlier formal civilization is the Mohenjo-Daro and Harrapan Civilization, which is at about 2000 BC. The Ayurveda tradition of cooking which is a complete holistic approach to cooking evolved at this time. This lays the foundation of the concept that everything we eat affects both our body and mind; therefore food should be pure, from nature, and balanced. The core balance consists of balancing the six tastes – Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent. These tastes relate to the attributes of Essence and Effect.

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Its difficult to narrate a story that starts from the Bay of Bengal to the Coasts of Konkan, from the rugged peaks of the Great Himalayas through the land of Five rivers ‘Punjab’ right into the Gangetic plains and the southern coast.

India’s language, religion, customs and food differ from place to place within the country, but nevertheless possess a commonality. India is the only country in the world to have so many religions and beliefs. The food culture of India is an amalgamation of these diverse subcultures spread all over the Indian subcontinent and traditions that are several millennia old.

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The cuisine in India is classified into three major categories. Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. Satva, which stand for balance, Rajas stands for passion, and Tamas stands for indulgence. Food is consumed according to the lifestyle of the person. For example: A King has to be aggressive to defend his country, he would be taking food, which would give much passion and that aggressiveness which is required. When a person tries to lead his life in want of self-realization, he would prefer a Satvic food or known as Satvic diet, which would help to keep his mind in balance. Tamasic food or known as static food is to be taken only if its required, like consumption of Alcohol.

 

Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge. Varied uses of spices are an integral part of food preparation, and are used to enhance the flavor of a dish and create unique flavors and aromas. Cuisine across India has also been influenced by various cultural groups that entered India throughout history, such as the Persian, Mughal and European Colonists. Sadly in most Indian restaurants outside India the menu does not do justice to the enormous variety of Indian cuisine available. My Blog is a small tribute to this great land, gastronomically diversified.

 

Chef Ashish Bhatia

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