As we prepare for Secret Church 16: A Global Gospel in a World of Religions, we want to learn about India, our prayer focus for this year. This week’s blog posts will showcase parts of Indian culture that make the country unique. Learn with us as we glimpse a small portion of India’s incredible culture.
The food in India is as diverse as its people. What can be called an Indian meal is different from north to south and east to west, and each region has its preferred ways of cooking.
What most people know of Indian food is that it is spicy—which is true for most Indian dishes, though not all. The plethora of spices found in Indian food have been used for thousands of years, favorites of Indians mostly for their flavor but also for medicinal qualities (Example: turmeric, cloves, cardamom, and ginger).
Some sources say that Indian food has six different tastes: sweet, sour, savory, spicy, bitter, and astringent. Most Indian cooks strike a balance between these tastes and don’t appeal to all six in one dish. One thing is for sure, Indian food is never boring!
As much of Indian food is classified by its region of origin, we compiled a very short list of certain regions and the foods or cooking styles that they have made popular.
Punjab state is located in northern India. Many Punjabi dishes can be found in a typical Indian restaurant in the United States. Punjabis biggest contribution to Indian cuisine is the tandoori style of cooking, earthen ovens heated by coal. A typical Punjabi meal consists of daal, roti, yogurt and curried vegetables or meat. Spices popular in Punjabi food include cumin, turmeric, mustard, garlic, and ginger. Punjabi food is also well known for its use of yogurt and milk, as well as its sweet yogurt smoothies called lassi. Some Punjabi dishes that you might find familiar: Tandoori chicken, Butter chicken, Aloo roti (Potato filled bread).
Kashmiri food comes from the northern Indian state of Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan. Spices popular in Kashmiri food include aromatics such as cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Kashmiri food is typically rich and cooked in ghee, a type of butter. Familiar Kashmiri dishes could be korma, made with a sweet and creamy sauce, and rogan josh, usually served with lamb.
Bengali food has origins from the region of Bengal, which is divided between the Indian state of West Bengal and Bangladesh. Certain spices are most common for Bengali food: aniseed, cumin seed, black cumin seed, mustard, and fenugreek. Bengali cuisine is also known for mustard oil, which is not used commonly in food from other regions. Bengali food staples include rice, fish, eggs, daal, and vegetable curries. Desserts from Bengal are eaten all over India, often made from milk or cottage cheese and served with sweet, sticky syrup.
Food from southern Indian states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala includes generous amounts of spices and coconut. Fish and coconut are abundant in the south along with spices like cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Rice is the staple food in southern states instead of wheat, which is used a lot in northern food. Here are some foods you might know from southern India: Dosa (a thin pancake made from rice and daal) and Biryani (rice with meat, vegetables, and spices).
Again, this is a very short list of regions of India and their food. Variety in Indian food abounds throughout the country. We hope we’ve sparked your interest in learning more about India and its incredible food and culture. There’s much more to discover.
One way to find out more about Indian food and people is to go to an Indian restaurant near you. While you are there, try to have conversations with people who work there. Ask questions about them—where they’re from, what their favorite Indian food is, etc. Try building relationships that can lead to you sharing the gospel with people who may have never heard before.
As we prepare for Secret Church 16, we hope you enjoy getting to know more about India. While we share about fun things involving culture, we hope you will become more familiar with the place we will focus on in prayer. Join us as we pray for India, for the persecuted church there and for the billions of people who still do not know Christ as Lord