I have put a map of India on this page to give you a feel for where the food I make comes from. Also, to show you how big a country it is and when I say each state has its only style of cooking and specialities, the map will give you a feel for what I mean. There are currently 28 states and 7 Union territories (think of them as mini states).
A lot of the food I describe to you in my blog comes from the southern states of Karanataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh as that is where my family comes from. These states each have their own language (not dialect) – Kannada, Tamil and Telegu respectively. Some of the dishes I describe have names that are from one or more of these languages. For example, ‘Rasam’ is Tamil and ‘Badnekai’ is Kannada.
Outside of India, the food sold as “Indian” tends to originate mainly from Punjab in the north of India and bordering Pakistan. North Indian food is rich and creamy and is often served with bread such as naan, kulcha, roti or paratha. Occasionally, you will see food from Gujarat which is in the west of India also feature on the menu. Gujarati food tends to be mostly (but not exclusively) vegetarian, has an underlying sweetness and usually has potatoes in one form or another. If a restaurant says “South Indian food” then it usually refers to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. South Indian food is generally rice and lentil based and lacks the creaminess of its North Indian counterparts. The richness is often added in the form of Ghee or clarified butter instead of cream. Kerala being coastal has a lot of its own unique dishes featuring seafood and coconut though the majority of Kerala food is still rice-based.
In England, I’ve found Indian food to be a bit of a hit-and-miss. In a city as large as London, it is possible to find authentic north/south Indian food but in smaller towns there is a lot that is passed off as Indian food can be quite terrible. I find the proof for north Indian food is in the naan – if it is as thick as your finger, undercooked and greasy as all hell, don’t go back for more. A real naan is cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor and should be light and puffy and non-greasy (unless you asked for a “butter-naan”).
I will add more information to this page as I write my blogs.