Indian cooking is synonymous with use of spices. A blend of spices is widely used in vegetables, curries, meat dishes, biryani and other types of rice, sweets and even in beverages. Most commonly used spices are cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, dried ginger, bay leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, ajwain and black pepper. Garlic, ginger, mint, fresh and dried chilies, fennel seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, asafoetida are other spices and herbs commonly used in Indian cuisine. Turmeric is used in all parts of India. The reason behind the use of spices is not limited just to taste enhancement but they are mainly used for their medicinal qualities. Some of these spices are avoided in summer as they are of very hot nature. Some spices are consumed in more quantity in winter as they help keep away cold, cough and fever. “Masala Chai” (spiced tea) is the idea for kick-starting a day for most of the people in India. It is a cup of piping hot tea with milk, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger and other spices of choice and is drunk with or without sugar.
Indian cooking involves different cooking methods like steaming, roasting, grilling, pan-frying, frying and combination of multiple methods. Indian cuisine is one of those global cuisines, which use variety of cookware made of different materials ranging from stone, wood, clay to glass, metal and other modern materials. These cookware are also sized and shaped to suite the cooking needs of the cook. Originally from Punjab, Tandoor or a special clay oven is world famous for the texture and aroma it offers to the food being slow cooked inside. Tandoori roti and naan are the famous Indian flatbreads. Tandoori chicken, chicken tikka and kebabs are few tasty outcomes of the Tandoor. Handi (deep, narrow mouthed cooking vessel), kadhai (deep vessel similar to a wok), tava (griddle), clay handi, cast iron cooking vessels are routinely used for cooking in India. Chakla-Belan (Rolling board and pin), chimta (tong) and masala dabba (It is a flat round container with seven small bowls inside. It is used to store the spices like mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric, asafoetida, spice blend, chili powder and coriander powder, which are required in everyday cooking) are other accessories used while cooking.
Various types of spoons are also used for cooking and serving. Steamer is a special cookware with a stand inside that has disk-sized plates. This is used for making idlis (steamed rice cakes), modak (rice dumplings filled with coconut and jaggery mixture) and other steamed snacks. Cast iron, brass, copper and aluminum cooking vessels are traditionally used whereas stainless steel and non-stick vessels are comparatively newer to Indian cooking. Gold and silver were used in those good old days for serving the food on special occasions and to special guests. Banana leaf is still used in some parts of India for serving complete Thali on special occasions.
There are many more things, which are unique in Indian cuisine. Heritage of thousands of years, close connection with spirituality and acceptance for best things in other cultures are the reasons why the Indian cuisine will be there even after thousands of years.