Indian food is vibrant, colourful and richly flavoured; described by some as both God-like in its purity, yet devilishly sly as its spices lie in wait for unsuspecting palates. Its cuisine has diversified and strengthened throughout history by all those who have come into contact with it: The Ancient Greeks brought lamb and the art of cheese-making, the early Mughals came looking for land, victory, melons and grapes, yet introduced korma, biryani and the tandoor. Their descendants, with a penchant for lavish banquets, embraced India’s spices, set up huge kitchen brigades, and helped develop the foundations of classical Indian cuisine. Under royal patronage, chefs experimented with different flavours and cooking styles, transforming ingredients to keep their masters’ interest. With the coming of the Portuguese, Indian food gained complexity and heat – chillies, tomatoes and cashew nuts were all added to the Indian food repertoire. The arrival of the British Empire influenced Indian cuisine not with ingredients, but rather with new cooking techniques from English and French recipes.
Today, Indian food is truly global, influencing and being influenced by far-reaching corners of the world. Rustic meals, fine dining, street foods and regional specialties are all incorporated to make it one of the most exciting cuisines available.
My earliest food memories are of the family lunch table, specifically at my grandparents’ home, where plates of kababs, curries, sweet seasonal vegetables, crunchy salads, crumbly breads, beautiful rice dishes, perky aachars (pickles) and chutneys, softened by velvety raitas were consumed, while mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles compared their favourite recipes and tips for making the best parathas. Everyone had their own little story to tell, while us kids just tried to sneak in one more gulab jamun, hoping no one was watching. These recipes were handed down through the years, forever adapting with each new generation.
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