India is the paradise for food, boasting of not one or two but about as many cuisines as the number of communities.Food of India can be categorized into North Indian and South Indian for the purpose of simplicity. But that is a simplistic categorization, for even within every state in India one finds great culinary variation.

Kashmiri Cuisine

The food of Jammu and Kashmir differs from region to region. The Hindu Dogras of Jammu being predominantly vegetarian, eat a staple diet of wheat and beans The Ladakhis eat rice, wheat, millet, locally produced vegetables and fruits, goat meat and dairy products made from yak milk. The most famous cuisine of the state though is Kashmiri. Dishes are cooked for a long time, so the meats may fully absorb the flavors of the accompanying condiments. The seasons and availability of fresh produce dictates the ingredients, some of which are dried for use in the winter months. The Kashmiri cuisine is essentially meat-based There is a variation in the different eating habits of the Hindu and Muslim Kashmiris that determines which spices are used and which meats too since beef is prohibited for Hindus.

Punjabi Cuisine

The food of Punjab is meant for the strong-hearted. It is rich in flavours and has a liberal dose of ghee (clarified butter) and spices. Punjab has an abundance of milk and therefore milk products are an important part of daily diet. No meal is complete without large glassfuls of butter milk or lassi (yoghurt drink). The people of this region are largely wheat eaters and have developed variations of breads including the stuffed a/oo paralha (potato bread) and the makke ki roti (maize bread). Vegetarian delights such as sarson saag (mustard leaf curry), rajma-chawal (kidney beans with steamed rice) and kadhi (gram flour and yoghurt curry) are the most popular Punjabi dishes. Punjabis have also created a combination of the northwest frontier cuisine and Mughlai recipes to present rich poultry and mutton dishes. The ubiquitous “tandoori chicken” s a great favorite!

Uttar Pradesh Cuisine

The cuisine of Uttar Pradesh is just as diverse as its geography. Ranging from simple every day fare to rich, elaborate banquets, the cuisine of Uttar Pradesh has absorbed and adapted a variety of cuisines to create an entire smorgasbord of wonderful dishes. The people of Uttar Pradesh love to cook, to eat and to feed! Difference in communities notwithstanding, as a people, they are very warm and hospitable. For most of them, the ultimate in hospitality means you feed your guests till they beg for mercy. Many Hindu communities are staunch vegetarians and they have created a vast variety of vegetarian dishes ranging from the all time favorite puri-aloo (potatoes and fried wheat bread) to savouries and divine desserts and sweetmeats.

The Muslims, Kashmiris, Kayasthas and Christian communities cook up a storm of non-vegetarian dishes including a delectable selection of breads, kebabs, curries and biryanis. The Muslim cuisine, of northern Uttar Pradesh is very different from the Mughlai food of Delhi. The Nawabs of Oudh (now Lucknow) were great gourmets and encouraged their master chefs to create new styles of cooking like the famous Dum Pukht where the food is sealed in large pots called “handis”, placed over a slow fire and left to cook in its own juices. When opened, these dishes release the most fragrant and delicious aromas. Lucknow and its neighboring towns were put on the culinary map of India thanks to these rich curries, melt in the mouth kebabs, fragrant rice biryanis and pulaos and an eclectic collection of leavened and unleavened breads.

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