Indian food insights

Rajasthani Thali

Thali is how traditional Indians eat! A thali is a stainless steel platter with little bowls consisting of a variety of different dishes providing a mix of textures, flavours and colours for a healthy meal in accordance with age-old Indian traditions of eating a nutritionally balanced meal in controlled portions. Thalis vary by the region and are indeed one of the greatest joys of eating in India.

In Rajasthan the thali has been an integral part of dining, both in palaces of the kings and the simple homes of the common man. Replete with papad, roti, rice, vegetables, curries and Indian dessert, a traditional Rajasthani Thali is a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, influenced by the royal lifestyles of the Maharajas and the availability of ingredients in this arid region, where one must note that due to scarcity of water, milk is often used for cooking.

The dishes served in the Rajasthani Thali may vary a little from one region to the other but its signature dishes that one must look out for are Laal Maans-A thick semi dry tangy mutton curry prepared using butter milk or curd and lots of onions, garlic and Mathania Red chillies from Jodhpur; and Gatte ki sabzi-gram flour steamed dumplings, called "Gattas" dunked into a yogurt based curry.

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Hyderabadi Biryani

Hyderabadi cuisine, like its culture and history stands high and unparalleled. In fact, for travellers one of the prime reasons for visiting Hyderabad, other than its rich architectural history is to taste the authentic Hyderabadi biryani. This aromatic preparation of basmati rice and mutton is meticulously prepared in the ‘Kutchi' (raw) biryani style, in which raw rice and raw meat are cooked together in a ‘handi' (earthen pot) with onions, saffron, and spices.

Biryani was brought to Hyderabad by the invading Mughal army of Aurangazeb. As the traditional Indian food such as roti, rice and curries would be too elaborate to prepare and eat in times of war, the biryani was developed as a quick yet full meal for the troops. The blending of Mughlai and Andhra cuisines resulted in the Hyderabadi biryani. Over time chicken and vegetarian variants of the traditional biryani have also become popular. The Hyderabadi’s can’t do without the biryani and after tasting it you too might want to take the recipe back home.

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 Chettinad chicken

Hot, spicy and aromatic are the unique features of Chettinad cooking. A successful trading community of Tamil Nadu, the Chettiar community is known for their richly decorated enormous bungalows, their warm hospitality and above all their food, which is indeed one of the spiciest in India.

The dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas, and use a lot of sun-dried meats and salted vegetables. Chettinad Chicken, popular world over, is characterized by its predominant ingredients – fennel, star anise and chilli and is a feast for spice lovers. It is eaten with rice and rice-based accompaniments such as dosais, appams, idiyappams, adais and idlis. Every household will have its own recipe for cooking the Chettinad chicken, and will have both the dry and curry variants of it. But no matter which recipe you follow and which variant you try it is always spicy and finger licking good that leaves you craving for more.

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Butter chicken

This is probably the most well-known Indian dish in the world! One bite of the thick tasty gravy of this legendary dish and you’ll understand that the people of North India love chillies, saffron, milk, ghee (clarified butter) and nuts...all the ingredients that make the cuisine rich and hearty.

The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to Delhi. It is believed to have been first introduced by the restaurant Moti Mahal, when its chef hastily prepared it, for a hurried VIP customer who wanted “some” chicken dish. He tossed half of a Tandoori chicken with liberal amounts of butter, tomato, and garam masalas. It was so well appreciated that it became the signature dish of the restaurant, though modified a little subsequently to improvise it.

Although today various versions exists for the recipe, the one where the chicken is marinated overnight in yoghurt and spice mixtures including a host of spices like ginger, garlic paste, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli, is still the favourite of most people. A favorite of North Indians and a staple at most Indian restaurants, the butter chicken has made its place in every corner of the world!

(Information from Luxe India)

 
 

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