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Culinary Delights

India is a land of mouth-watering culinary preparations.
Indian cuisine has always been an exciting challenge to the international traveller, providing its own reward in terms of the array of culinary delights on offer.

It would be no exaggeration to say that there are as many culinary styles in the country as there are regions. In fact, each state has its own distinctive style of cooking, which is what creates that mind-boggling variety of dishes encompassed in the generic name-Indian Cuisine.

Say the word 'curry'and you might just draw a blank, for the word is alien to most Indians, being a coinage of the British for the Indian gravy (an amalgam of chunks of mutton, ducken or in a sauce composed of onions, tomatoes, yoghurt coconut milk) which is a predominant feature in Indian cuisine.

Much like the arts and crafts, it was royal patronage that propelled the development of different schools of culinary traditions. Among the rather well known are the Mughiai, Awadhi and the Hyderabach styles of cooking, which, as the names suggest, originated in the royal kitchens of the Mughals, Awadh and the Nizams of Hyderabad.

In the northern most state of Jammu & Kashmir, mutton is the piece de resistance in the wazwan, the traditional 24-course banquet.

The Goanese, in fact, make full use- of their proximity to the sea coast by not hmiting their cuisine to just fish, but also including crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and tiger prawns, which not only provide variety but also make the cuisine exciting. And to top it all, there is the locally manufactured wine and vermouth, served alongside, which is a major temptation for the traveller.

In sharp contrast are the states of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat which display a clear penchant for vegetarian dishes. f you're one of them, we can guarantee that the choice of hp-smacking and mouth watering vegetarian preparations, served alongside enticing
accompanitnents, will simply make you fall for them

It would be no exaggeration to say that the gourmet in you will not be satisfied tifl you've discovered for yourself the magic of the tandoori delights. Unique to this part of the world, the tandoor is a day oven whose history stretches baci to centuries. With temperatures inside reaching a whopping 600*C- the fuel being burning coals--cooking time is reduced to mere seconds. One of the joys of partaking tandoori cuisine is the fact that minimal oil is used in the cooking process, which should make it a favourite with the weight conscious.

Take the example of sarson ka saag, originating from Punjab. This dish of mustard greens simmered over coals, sometimes overnight, is a de rigeuer at Punjabi food festivals and at restaurants serving north Indian cuisine. Similar signature dishes of other regions are Pau Bhaji, a combination of vegetables and bun, very popular in Mumbai and Gujarat, Bhelpuri, also in Mumbai and Chaat in Delhi.

What's life without a little sweetness? Since India is the largest producer of milk in the world. Generalising Indian sweets as derivatives of milk would be grossly unfair to a craft that equires utmost dedication for, Indian desserts are a specialisation by themselves. Many culinary styles are renowned for their desert section, prominent among these being Bengali, Bikaneri and Punjabi. A close second in popularity, and probably the clear leader in northern parts of the country, is Lassi or butter milk, a vigorously churned mixture of yoghurt and water, servedsweet or salted.

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