India is the world’s second most populated country but is perhaps unparalleled in sheer diversity of culture. The people, their languages, their lifestyle as well as their cuisine vary greatly across the country. Every region has its characteristic cuisine and culinary style. There is so much to talk about Indian food, and so much that the world has not seen yet.
What Is a “Masala”?
A masala is a mixture of herbs and spices in Indian cuisine. Masalas are used to add a whole new dimension to a dish’s flavour and can be simple or incredibly complex, some popular ones consisting of as many as 20 ingredients. Some masalas are known to help boost the body’s water retention and immunity too.
What Does “Curry” Mean?
Cultural appropriation has led to any dish with a remotely South Asian origin being referred to as a curry. In truth, an Indian curry is any dish which has sauce and gravy. Curries can be rich and flavourful or subtle, light comfort-food. They are eaten with flatbread (“rotis”) or rice. Try out some great curries at an Indian restaurant in Melbourne today.
What Are Chutneys and Aachars?
Chutneys are pastes made from grated or overcooked fruit and veggies. They can be sweet, spicy, or tangy and are used as dips or accompaniments with fried food. The word chutney quite literally means “finger-licking”.
An aachar is essentially a pickle. Vegetables are pickled in oil and various spices to come up with this brilliant, tangy product that can be eaten at any time, with pretty much any meal. You could make them at home or purchase ready-made mixes in stores. If you are in Melbourne and visit any Indian restaurant, you are quite likely to be served an aachar as a condiment.
Common Culinary Misconceptions about India
While “Indian food” has made it onto the global gastronomic scene, a lot of things are still unknown to the global public, and a number of stereotypes about Indian culture and cuisine have crept into people’s minds, which need to be dispelled.
#1 Indian Food Is Vegetarian Only
This is as far from the truth as you could possibly get. It is true that a large number of Indians are vegetarians, but there are an equally large number of people who consume meat as well. Since India is a Hindu-majority country and cows are considered sacred by Hindus, it is likely that you won’t come across too many Indian beef dishes, but there is a mind-boggling array of offerings in chicken, fish, and lamb.
#2 Indian Food Is Really Fiery to Taste
This is untrue as well. Most people are daunted by the colour and richness of Indian food and it is true that they use a variety of condiments and spices, but not all of these are hot. Spices have several layers of taste, and all of it adds to the flavour. There is definitely plenty of milder Indian food for you to choose from. You could also opt for the spicier items with a palate cleanser like yogurt or a refreshing drink.
#3 Indian Food Is All about Rice
India is too big a country for its cuisine to be generalized this way; it is true that rice is a staple in East and South India, but most of the North and West have wheat, maize, and other grain plantations, which is why rotis are preferred over rice.
#4 Indian Food Is Way Too Greasy
Most people believe Indians fry all their food, which means it is oily, greasy and unhealthy. In fact, several Indian dishes are baked or grilled, and for the rest, the addition of butter and oil is mostly optional. People who are figure-conscious don’t have much to worry about; Indian food has something for everyone.
Come discover the joys of Indian cuisine and dispel all your misconceptions. There are plenty of culinary wonders to be found at any Indian restaurant in Melbourne.