Indian food is different from the rest of the world, not only in taste but in cooking methods. It reflects a perfect blend of various cultures and ages. Just like Indian culture, food in India has also been influenced by various civilizations, which have contributed their share in its overall development and the present form.

Foods of India are better known for their spiciness. Throughout India, be it North India or South India, spices are used generously in food. But one must not forget that every single spice used in Indian dishes carries some nutritional as well as medicinal properties.

The most important (or most frequently used) spices in Indian cuisine are: chili pepper, black mustard seed (rai), cumin (jeera), tumeric (haldi), fenugreek (methi), asafoetida (hing), ginger (adrak), coriander (dhania), and garlic (lehsun). A popular spice mix is garam masala, a powder that typically includes five or more dried spices, especially cardamom, cinnamon, and clove. Each region, and sometimes each individual chef, has a distinctive blend of garam masala. Some leaves are commonly used, including teipat (Bay leaf), coriander leaf, fenugreek leaf, and mint leaf. Sweet dishes are seasoned with cardamom, saffron, nutmeg, and rose petal essences.

Punjabi cuisine (Chef Avtar was born and raised in Punjab, India) can be non-vegetarian or completely vegetarian. One of the main features of Punjabi cuisine is its diverse range of dishes. Home-cooked and restaurant Punjabi cuisine can vary significantly, with restaurant-style using large amounts of clarified butter, known locally as ghee, with liberal amounts of butter and cream, with home-cooked concentrating mainly upon preparations with whole wheat, rice, and other ingredients flavored with masalas (spices). The main masala in a Punjabi dish consists of onion, garlic, and ginger. Tandoori food is a Punjabi specialty especially for non-veg dishes. Many of the most popular elements of Anglo-Indian cuisine, such as tandoor, naan, pakoras, and vegetable dishes with paneer, derive from the Punjab.

Is Indian food beneficial to our health? Spices used in Indian cooking have certainly been used for thousands of years to alleviate coughs, colds, inflammation, and other symptoms. People are constantly searching for more natural remedies for all manner of ailments. Studies have shown that Indian food may benefit the heart, reduce the effects of diabetes, and lower the incidence of some cancers, as well as halt Alzheimer's and alleviate arthritis. Any diet low in fat and high in vegetables, fruits, and lean meat is a good step to take in benefitting health. Or it may be just another good excuse for a curry!

"Namaste"