One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked. “What’s happened to me? ” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls.
I love Indian food – it’s my favourite cuisine. I love the mixture of spices and the subtle flavours. It’s really erotic; the spices are so sensuous
Indian cuisine uses the whole palette of flavors—spicy, sour, sweet, and hot all at the same time—making it something that wants to jump off the plate,” says Floyd Cardoz, the executive chef and a partner of North End Grill in New York City and the author of One Spice, Two Spice ($36, amazon.com).
Don’t be afraid to start playing around with cooking Indian food at home. First, it’s important to understand the various dishes and flavors that make up Indian cuisine. “There’s as much varied cuisine in India as you would find in Europe. It’s all totally different, and the only thing that connects it is a judicious knowledge of the use of spices,” says Jaffrey
There are a basic 20 to 30 spices that are used in many dishes—cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger, to name a few—and there are an infinite number of ways of using them. “Every spice has a reason for being there. They have health benefits, and they make the food more exciting and flavorful,” says Cardoz.
Contrary to common belief, not all Indian dishes are curries. However, “curry” has become a catch-all name for any spice-based meat or vegetable dish with a sauce. Curries can be watery, dry, red, green, hot, or really, really hot—it’s completely up to the chef in charge. In fact, a basic chicken curry is one of the simplest things to start with when first experimenting with Indian cooking. Serve it with a side of dal (a stew made of lentils, peas, or beans) and some roti (a tortilla-like wheat flat bread, available for mail order at ishopindian.com) and you’ll feel as if you’re halfway around the world.
As with most countries, there are large regional differences and each state’s cuisine can vary greatly even within a specific state. There are typically vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes for all five states. Additionally, all regions have typical main dishes, snacks, light meals, desserts, and drinks that are well-known in their respective region.