South Asian cuisine

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Location of South Asia.
An assortment of spices and herbs. Spices are an indispensable food ingredient in much of India.

South Asian cuisine includes the cuisines from South Asia (also known as the Indian subcontinent) comprising the traditional cuisines from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives and when included in the definition, also that of Afghanistan.

Staples and common ingredients[edit]

Chapati, a type of flat bread from the former regions, is a common part of meals to be had in many parts of Indian subcontinent. Other staples from many of the cuisines include rice, roti made from atta flour, and beans.

Foods in this area of the world are flavoured with various types of chilli, black pepper, cloves, and other strong herbs and spices along with the flavoured butter ghee. Ginger is an ingredient that can be used in both savory and sweet recipes in South Asian cuisine. Chopped ginger is fried with meat and pickled ginger is often an accompaniment to boiled rice. Ginger juice and ginger boiled in syrup are used to make desserts. Turmeric and cumin are often used to make curries.

Common meats include lamb, goat, fish and chicken. Beef is less common than in Western cuisines because cattle have a special place in Hinduism. Prohibitions against beef extend to the meat of (water) buffalo and yaks to some extent. Pork is considered as a taboo food item by all Muslims and is avoided by most Hindus, though it is commonly eaten in Goa, which has a notable Roman Catholic population from Portuguese rule. A variety of very sweet desserts which use dairy products is also found in South Asian cuisines, the main ingredients to South Asian desserts are reduced milk, ground almonds, lentil flour, ghee and sugar. Kheer is a dairy based rice pudding, a popular and common dessert.


Top: Traditional outdoor Indian cooking in the Thar Desert in Jaisalmer, showing roti bread and vegetable stew being cooked; Bottom: Traditional kitchen in a Hindu temple in Karnataka, India.

Many of India's foods go back over five thousand years, the Indus Valley peoples, who settled in what is now Northwestern South Asia, hunted turtles and alligator. They also collected wild grains, herbs and plants. Many foods and ingredients from the Indus period (c. 3300–1700 B.C.) are still common today. Some consist of wheat, barley, rice, tamarind, eggplant, and cucumber, the Indus Valley peoples cooked with oils, ginger, salt, green peppers, and turmeric root, which would be dried and ground into an orange powder.

Indians have used leafy vegetables, lentils, and milk products such as yogurt and ghee all along their history, they also used spices such as cumin and coriander. Black pepper which is native to India was often used by 400 A.D. The Greeks brought saffron and the Chinese introduced tea, the Portuguese and British made red chili, potato and cauliflower popular after 1700 A.D. Mughals, who began arriving in India after 1200, saw food as an art and many of their dishes are cooked with as many as twenty-five spices. They also used rose water, cashews, raisins, and almonds.

List of South Asian cuisines[edit]

Afghan cuisine is dominated by Pashtun cuisine and, has similarities with both Central Asian culinary styles as well as with the other South Asian cuisines.

Some of the popular Afghan dishes, from left to right: 1. Lamb grilled kebab (seekh kabab); 2. kabuli Palau and salad; 3. Tandoori chicken; and 4. Mantu (dumplings).

Bangladeshi cuisine is dominated by mostly by Bengali cuisine.some areas like Dhaka city also, specialize in Mughlai cuisine. Southeastern parts of Bangladesh especially the Chittagong region is highly influenced by Burmese cuisine.

Bangladeshi Iftar
Smoked hilsa fish with mustard gravy is a popular dish with the country's national fish.

Bhutanese cuisine employs a lot of red rice (like brown rice in texture, but with a nutty taste, the only variety of rice that grows at high altitudes), buckwheat, and increasingly maize. The diet in the hills also includes chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork, pork fat, and mutton.It has many similarities with Tibetan cuisine

Bhutanese national dish Ema datshi (ཨེ་མ་དར་ཚིལ།) with rice (mix of Bhutanese red rice and white rice)

Indian cuisine is characterized by its sophisticated and subtle use of many Indian spicesThere is also the widespread practice of vegetarianism across its society although, overall a minority.Indian cuisine is one of the world's most diverse cuisines, each family of this cuisine is characterized by a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques, as a consequence, Indian cuisine varies from region to region, reflecting the varied demographics of the ethnically diverse Indian subcontinent.India's religious beliefs and culture has played an influential role in the evolution of its cuisine.It has influences from Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, East Asian, and Central Asian, as well as the Mediterranean cuisines due to the historical and contemporary cross-cultural interactions with these neighboring regions.

Traditional North Indian Vegetarian Thali, India
Rogan josh is a popular Kashmiri dish from India.
Chicken tikka in India, is a popular dish in Punjabi cuisine
Ghevar a popular sweet dessert from Rajasthan.
Dosa served with sambar and chutney
South Indian vegetarian Thali, India
Fish moolie Kerala Style
Bengali Fish meal
Odisha style Mutton Curry
Momo platter from Darjeeling
Rasgulla a famous syrupy dessert from Eastern India
Assamese Thali
Non-Vegetarian Eromba from Manipur
Tan Ngang a bread from Manipur
Dhokla is a popular snack from Gujarat
Pav Bhaji a popular fast food from Mumbai, Maharashtra
Pork Vindaloo being served at a restaurante in Goa
Dhansak a famous Parsi dish from Gujarat
A popular Indian Chinese dish

Maldivian cuisine also called Dhivehi cuisine is the cuisine of the Nation of Maldives and of Minicoy, India. The traditional cuisine of Maldivians is based on three main items and their derivatives: coconuts, fish and starches.

Masroshi Maldivian savory snacks
Gulha is a popular snacks in Maldives

Nepalese cuisine comprises a variety of cuisines based upon ethnicity, soil and climate relating to Nepal's cultural diversity and geography.Dal-bhat-tarkari (Nepali: दाल भात तरकारी) is eaten throughout Nepal.Nepali cuisine has significant influences from Neighboring Indian and Tibetan cuisines.

Dal-bhat-tarkari is a traditional dish in Nepalese cuisine
Plateful of Momo in Nepal

Pakistani cuisine (Urdu: پاکستانی پکوان‎) is part of the greater South Asian and Central Asian Cuisines due to its geographic location. As a result of Mughal legacy, Pakistan also mutually inherited many recipes and dishes from that era alongside India.

Sohan Halwa from Multan a popular Saraiki dessert
Pashtun dinner sitting on dastarkhan
Sajji, a popular meat dish of Balochistan
Ghalmandi with cottage cheese and herbs from Chitral

Sri Lankan cuisine has been shaped by many historical, cultural, and other factors. Foreign traders who brought new food items; influences from Indonesian cuisine and South Indian cuisine are evident.

Kiribath is a traditional rice pudding from Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan rice and curry platter