Cuisine Focus – Indian Cuisine – An Interesting Mix of Herbs, Spices, Culture, and Religion

When we think of the Indian cuisine, we usually think of aromatic dishes peppered with herbs and spices, and that thought is usually right. The Indian cuisine is definitely known for its strong taste and strong aroma because of the variety of herbs and spices that they use on their dishes.

The Indian cuisine also varies from one region to another. This is because there have been a lot of factors that helped shape the evolution and history of the Indian cuisine, depending upon the region as stated above.

The Indian techniques and methods of cooking can be traced back to about 5,000 years ago. It has been shaped by the land as well as the produce that comes from a specific region; thus, there are varying regional Indian cuisines. Aside from this, their religion has also greatly influenced their cooking. Another factor that significantly influenced the Indian cuisine is the traders as well as the travelers that pass through the region. They leave behind new cooking methods as well as new dishes and new ingredients that the locals incorporate into their cooking. The rulers who ruled also influenced Indian cuisine. But what is most fascinating is that the identity of the original Indian cuisine never got lost. In fact, it has retained its uniqueness, and all those influences only enhanced the cuisine and made it richer.

The normal diet consists of meat, usually game meat, and they also make use of fruits and vegetables. The use of spices had long been used in Indian cuisine, and this can be traced back to about 3,000 BCE. When religions like Buddhism and Hinduism grew in India, vegetarianism became prevalent and flourished. In fact, the prohibition of eating beef became the longstanding characteristic of Hinduism, and this practice is still going on even to this present day.

Come the Middle Ages,tea and spices were introduced to India by the travelers and traders. Much later, the Indian cuisine was again influenced by the invaders and conquerors coming from Central Asia as well as the Afghan region. It was also during this time that seasonings became a part of the Indian cuisine, particularly the use of saffron. By the 18th century, when the British came to India to rule the land, a marriage between the two cuisines and two cultures happened, and it has been coined as the Anglo-Indian cuisine. It was not surprising then to see traditional British cuisine like roast beef having an Indian influence by making use of local Indian spices like red chilies as well as curry. Raj traditions also emerged, one of which is the high-tea tradition.

If there is one thing that can be said about the Indian cuisine is that, even if a lot of international cuisines have greatly influenced the traditional recipes and methods of Indian cooking, it has always retained its authenticity and originality. Furthermore, it has retained its culture and history, particularly when it comes to avoiding the use of pork or beef in their dishes due to religious reasons.

As stated above, there are a variety of regional Indian cuisines that helped shape what it is right now. These regions are the Awadhi, Mughlai, Bengali, Rajasthani, Konkani, Udupi, Malabari, Punjabi, Hyderabadi, Sindhi, Marwari, Chettinadu, Dogri, Kashmiri, and Marathi. These regional Indian cuisines differ in ingredients used as well as methods used in cooking their dishes, and each regional Indian cuisine will be discussed in short details in the succeeding articles.

Ingredients Utilized in Indian Cuisine

* The following list is, by no means, exhaustive. It is only intended as a reference source.

Pulses and Legumes: Bengal gram, black gram, green gram, lentil, split gram, soyabean.

Condiments and Spices: Asafetida, cardamom, chili, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mace, nutmeg, oregano, pepper, tamarind, turmeric, walnut.

Nuts and Oilseeds: Almond, cashew nut, gingelly, coconut, groundnut, linseed, mustard, pistachio, safflower, sunflower.

Cereals and Grains: Millet, barley, buckwheat, milo, maize, ragi, rice, semolina, wheat, wheat flour.

Vegetables: Onion, garlic, spinach, peas, tomato, chickpeas, potatoes.

Meats: Chicken, mutton, lamb.

Seafood: Prawns, shrimps, lobsters, and a variety of seawater fishes.

Classical Chicken Tikka Masala


* 2 tbsp vegetable oil

* 1 tbsp butter

* 400g onions, chopped

* 600g chopped tomatoes

* 1kg chicken breast, skin removed and cut into 2.5-4cm cubes

* 4 tbsp Patak’s Tikka Masala Paste

* 2 tbsp thick plain yoghurt

* salt, to taste

* 150ml cream

* large pinch dried fenugreek leaves (optional)

* 3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

* juice of ½ lemon

* pinch of sugar


1. In a bowl mix together 2 tbsp Patak’s Tikka Masala Paste and the yoghurt. Add the chicken, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight if you have time.

2. Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan over a low heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté for about 10 minutes until light golden brown.

3. Add the remaining 2 tbsp Patak’s Tikka Masala Paste and cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in some water if the sauce begins to stick.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes and butter. Cover and leave to cook over a low heat for about 25-30 minutes, stirring at regular intervals until the butter separates from the gravy.

5. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the sauce. Continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

6. Add salt and sugar to taste and stir in the cream.

7. Finally, add the dried fenugreek leaves and squeeze in the lemon juice. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve hot with Patak’s Naan Bread

Classic Chicken Korma


* 450g chicken breast, diced

* 100g onions, sliced

* 1 tsp cracked black pepper

* 1 tbsp flaked almonds

* 25ml double cream

* 1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

* 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

* 1 tomato, chopped

* 2 tbsp vegetable oil

* 1/2 tsp root ginger, finely chopped

* salt to taste

* 3 tbsp Patak’s Korma Paste


1. Heat the oil in a pan and saute the sliced onions. Add the fennel seeds and fry for 1-2 minutes.

2. Add the black pepper and the chicken and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes then add the Patak’s Korma Paste and tomato.

3. Cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, sprinkle with water if the mixture begins to stick to the pan.

4. Stir in the ginger, half the coriander leaves, flaked almonds and cream. Cook for a further 3 – 4 minutes and serve hot, garnished with the remaining coriander.

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