Indian cuisine is not one cuisine, but rather shaped by many cultures. Cooking influences are a result of significant historical invasions. Led by Alexander the Great, the Greeks invaded India and brought Greek and Middle Eastern ingredients and cooking techniques. Mongul invaders introduced meat and rice dishes, Portuguese rulers brought chilies, and British rulers introduced chutney. Not only shaped by history, Indian cuisine is influenced by geography, climate, culture, including wealth and religion. There is one common bond, spices, vegetables, and dairy products. Indian cuisine provides a larger variety of vegetables than many cultures. Many Indians are vegetarian, therefore their protein source comes from dairy products.
One thing that does set India apart from other cultures is their use of spices. Curry powder, one of the many spices used in India, consists of many different spices, such as cardamom, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cloves, and others. The British introduced curry in India centuries ago as a way to hide the bad taste of spoiled meat. Today curry powder is used to enhance the flavor of meat. Chicken curry is a traditional meat dish served in India and it is one of the few dishes that every non-vegetarian family in India makes.
In the north and west, Asian influences dominate food preparation. A variety of flours are used to make chapatis and other breads in the northern plains. In the north-eastern foothills and along the coasts, rice is used to create Indian dishes. In the south near the equator, the food is spicy hot, almost fiery hot. Along the coastal regions fish and coconuts are used in food preparation.
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