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Gourmet Tour - Sampling Indian Cuisine
Of all that we have inherited, nothing embodies India's chequered past as completely as food. Even the simplest meal, consumed in a roadside cook shop or dhaba, has a tale to tell. Every dish has a story, every ingredient tells of times past. And as we eat, our senses are drawn into the experience, so that every meal becomes an exploration and a celebration.

South Indian Cusine Each period of India's past has created its own culinary patterns and each one was a blending of a tradition that came from other lands, with the indigenous forms of cooking and the spices for which India was famed. Local fruit and vegetables, local styles of cooking also played their part. Each of the resulting styles is quite unique. While the 'pure' Vedic style of food was vegetarian, lightly spiced and flavored with ghee or clarified butter, the influx of the Afghans, Turks and Persians, brought in a hearty style of meat cooking, which owed a great deal to a portable oven called a tandoor.

When the spices of south India were added to the marinades in which these meats were soaked, new taste sensations came into being, and the effect they had on the palate has lasted until today in the dishes of restaurants such as the Bukhara, and in a later transformation in the sealed steam cooking of Dum Pukht. Rajasthan is one place which waits for an opportunity to celebrate spring. Springtime begins with the excitement of the festival and fairs, where myth and history intermingle in an explosion of merriment and joy. With celebrations on, how can one forget their exotic cuisine.

Rajasthan Cusine The land of Princes', as Rajasthan is called boasts of many a fine kitchen - both within the palaces and outside. Their love for shikar or hunting has made game-meat royalty's favorite. At one time game cooking used to be a highly respected art, as it required great skill and experience to clean, cut and cook the meat. Then it was not incredible to find various shikars like the wild boar, peacock, quail, venison, duck and pheasant being prepared.

Princely kitchens have produced many an incomparable and exotic delicacy of shikar meat. There were as many ways of cooking game, as there were maharajas. The smoked Rajasthani kebab - sule - is bare-be-cued in about a dozen different ways. At the other extreme is Maheshwari Cuisine or the vegetarian cuisine of the Maheshwars of the Marwar or the Jodhpur area. The Marwaris abstain from roots like garlic and onions, as they are believed to excite passions.

Hyderabadi Food If gastronomic considerations form an important factor in your choice of a holiday destination, Hyderabad should feature very high on your list of priorities. As they say "The proof of the biryani lies in the eating". Hyderabadi food is a synthesis of all the influences that have gone into the making of Hyderabad. The Mughals have left a deep impression and so have other communities of Hyderabad: the Telegu speaking people, the Parsees, the Maharashtrians and may others across the border who came to settle here.

Every region in India offers a distinctive food like other features of its cultural life. The food of the western coast of India offers some of the most exotic ethnic preparations reflecting its diverse religious traditions, its seaside location and the omnipresent coconut. Owing to its vastness and diversity and to the fact that innumerable groups and races practicing various religions and speaking different languages live in the country, India is home to a variety of cooking styles and cuisine.

Lucknow Nawabi Cusine Each region lends its own flavor to the same basic raw materials, making it a mystery to be unraveled on a trip to the place. Thus, Indian food is a very loose term to describe the food of this land. Lucknow's Nawabi cuisine is represented in the world kabab. Here I quote a passage from Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh: The Cuisine of Awadh by Sangeeta Bhatnagar and R.K. Saxena (a Harper Collins publications):

"The erstwhile province of Awadh was famous for its high standards of gastronomic etiquette. This culture is still found preserved in the sanctum sanctorum of the erstwhile landed aristocracy of Lucknow and a few adjoining districts that formed part of Awadh; and of course the famous bawarchis (cooks) who, with tremendous discipline bordering on religious fervor, still follow the traditional style of cooking handed down to them by their ancestors.

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