Let's have a look at the traditional Indian ingredients go into curries and other Indian food.
There was a long standing belief in the 1960s and 70s that curries were made from leftovers or meat that had started to go off. This was also the time when Indian restaurants in the UK were pretty woeful and we only had the menu's word about what our meal might consist of.
Happily things have improved a great deal. Indian restaurants now serve good, and in some cases fairly authentic, food using good traditional Indian ingredients.
Cooking in this country has also come a long way. The assortment of celebrity chefs has made the populus ever more aware of different types of food, and the availability of ingredients is now mind boggling by comparison to those dark days.
It would have surprised a lot of people in the early 70s to hear that Indian food is really very healthy (it still does surpise some people); the spices are not there to disguise bad meat, rather the Indians had to find ways to preserve it in a hot climate with no modern appliances (kill a goat in the morning and it will be starting to go off by noon if you don't take steps).
If we look at the spices used in Indian cooking, we find that they all have antiseptic and preservative qualitys. Marinating and cooking in mixtures of various spices will actively preserve the meat. The oils used to cook Indian food have good nutritional qualities and many have health benefits.
A great deal of the Indian population is vegetarian and a much wider selection of vegetables is used than in many other cuisines. Of course vegetables is a very broad category so we will also be looking at separately at rice which a staple for a very large population. Grains to make flour are the other main staple of India being used to made many kinds of bread.
Pulses are eaten throughout India and include all kinds of daal, split peas, dried beans and legumes in general. Fruits are used both as an ingredient and are eaten throughout India on their own. There is also a massive variety of leafy vegetables and root vegetables
Some Indians do eat meat and it is an important part of the average western diet. Mutton (either sheep or goat ) is very common particularly amongst the Muslim comunities. Chicken and other fowl are also commonly eaten. Pork and beef are less common as they have religious restrictions associated with them; but India is a very big and diverse place so recipes do exist for these meats. And of couse fish is also a major part of the diet in coastal areas.
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