Kathleen Tracy


Mason Crest PO Box 221876, Hollywood, FL 33022 (866) MCP-BOOK (toll-free) • www.masoncrest.com

Copyright © 2023 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN (hardback) 978-1-4222-4679-5 ISBN (series) 978-1-4222-4675-7 ISBN (ebook) 978-1-4222-7138-4 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Tracy, Kathleen, author. Title: Indian / Kathy Tracy. Description: Hollywood, FL : Mason Crest, [2023] | Series: Customs, culture & cuisine | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2022002793 | ISBN 9781422246795 (hardback) | ISBN 9781422246757 (series) | ISBN 9781422271384 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Food habits—India—Juvenile literature. | Cooking, Indic—Juvenile literature. | Cooking—India—Juvenile literature. | India—Social life and customs—Juvenile literature. Classification: LCC GT2853.I5 T73 2023 | DDC 394.1/20954—dc23/eng/20220127

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K E Y I C O N S T O L O O K F O R : Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this book. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field. Research Project: Readers are pointed toward an area of further inquiry that relates to each book and encourages deeper research and analysis. Introduction:............................................................ 6 Chapter 1: Southern India. ....................................... 9 Chapter 2: Western & Central India.......................... 23 Chapter 3: Eastern & Northeastern India. ................ 37 Chapter 4: Northern India. ..................................... 53 Chapter 5: Indian Food in America........................... 65 Research Project. ................................................... 74 Glossary of Key Terms. ............................................ 75 Further Reading. ..................................................... 76 Internet Resources.................................................. 77 Index. .................................................................... 78 Author’s Biography & Credits................................... 80 CONTENTS

India is a modern country with an old soul. It’s one of today’s leaders in technology and innovation, and it is also home to one of the world’s oldest and most influential civilizations that dates back more than four thousand years. Surrounded by the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal, India is geographically and geologically diverse, with a desert spanning four states, lush jungles, the mighty Himalayas in the north, and a great central plain. The second most populous country on the planet, India’s 1.3 billion people are equally as diverse, with more than two thousand ethnicities. While English and Hindi are the two official languages, there are twenty-two additional languages recognized by the Indian constitution. Nearly 80 percent of the population are Hindu, with the rest split between Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. One of the oldest Jewish communities in the world is in Kerala. According to legend, the community dates to the reign of King Solomon in the ninth century BCE. India’s location, with its established land trade routes between China and the Middle East and its abundance of spices, made it a prime target for European colonization. Britain’s rule over colonial India, called the Raj, lasted from the 1790s until 1947 when India was finally granted independence. Over the centuries, India’s cuisine has been influenced by geographical surroundings, climate, local ethnic customs, Asian and European culture, economics, and religious beliefs and traditions. For example, most Hindus do not eat beef or pork, choosing a vegetarian diet instead. In addition, to celebrate the Durga Puja festival, which honors a Hindu goddess, people make traditional Bengali delicacies like Mughlai paratha , kathi rolls, and ghugni . From this diversity, four main styles of cuisine have developed in India, each identified with a particular region’s states.  Southern Indian: Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nādu, Telangana, and Kerala INTRODUCTION



 Western and Central Indian: Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Goa  Eastern and Northeastern Indian: West Bengal, Odisha, Eastern Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, and Sikkim  Northern Indian: Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Western Bihar For Indians, cuisine has a deeply

spiritual, familial, and social meaning. As the Indian Ministry of Culture notes, “The term ‘Indian food’ denotes a mélange of flavors from different

parts of the country and showcases centuries of cultural exchange with the far corners of the world.”



INGREDIENTS: oranges, mangoes,

grapes, langsat, chena, palmyra sprout, fish, rice, prawns, coconut, and lentils

Southern India CHAPTER

For those that like sultry weather, Southern India has it in spades. Its tropical climate keeps the temperatures on a scale from warm to scorching for most of the year. The locals say there are three seasons: summer (March-May), the monsoon season (June-September), and winter (October-February). In summer, temperatures inland average around 113°Fahrenheit (45°Celsius), but along the coast, they’re relatively more comfortable around 95°Fahrenheit (35°Celsius), thanks to the ocean breezes. There are two mountain ranges, the Western and Eastern Ghats, which bookend the large Deccan Plateau, described by National Geographic as a “flat, elevated landform that rises sharply above the surrounding area,” located south of the Narmada River. At 138,361 square miles (222,670 square kilometers), the plateau is almost the size of Montana. Strongly Diverse The people who live in the five southern states are called Dravidians because they speak one of the Dravidian languages, which include Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Brahui, and Tulu. More than 200 million people in Southern India speak a Dravidian language.


The sprawling metropolis of Hyderabad is the capital of the Southern Indian state of Telangana.

Once an ocean route to India was discovered, emigres from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa were drawn to the southern shores. This region is especially diverse and refreshingly tolerant of the numerous cultures and subcultures that flourish. The influence of all that diversity is still evident in many aspects of Southern Indian life, from food to the arts. Music The classical music style of Southern India is called Carnatic, which does not use sheet music. The musicians use improvisation, similar to how jazz musicians riff during solos, to play the thousands of songs and melodies passed down through generations. Since 1927, every November, a nine-week music festival has been held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, where amateur and professional musicians gather to perform Carnatic music. The Chennai Music Season has been called the world’s largest—and probably longest—cultural event.



Experience the amazing sounds of Carnatic music.

Festivals There are more than fifty festivals celebrated every year throughout India. Some are celebrated throughout the country: Holi, the festival of colors, takes place in March and celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It’s known for its lively street parties, the tradition of throwing colored powder and water at one another, and drinking thandais , a cold beverage made with milk, sugar, ground almonds, and spices. Diwali is a five-day festival of lights held in the fall associated with Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity, who represents the triumph of good over evil. One Diwali tradition is to exchange sweets with family, friends, and neighbors, such as ladoos , round sweets made

Chapter 1: Southern India


People throw colorful powder at lively street parties during the Holi festival.

with chickpea flour, wheat semolina, and coconut cooked with ghee . Some ladoos are filled with pistachios or almonds. Most festivals are local by state or region, which celebrate some aspects of their unique culture and traditions. Festivals generally celebrate a particular deity, a religious or historical event, or a natural event such as the arrival of a certain season. All festivals are intended to spread cheer, bring the community closer, and strengthen family bonds. Southern Indian Cuisine The region’s wet, warm climate provides an abundant supply of fresh home grown fruits (oranges, mangoes, grapes, and the grapefruit-like langsat ), vegetables (a type of yam called chena and palmyra sprout), fish, rice, and lentils. While cooking traditions may



change from state to state, Southern Indian cuisine shares a cuisine philosophy on using spices to create a confluence of flavors. While the perception of India has been that it’s the land of vegetarians, plenty of meat is eaten as well. However, it can also be that Indian cooks are especially adept at incorporating vegetables into their diet, which includes vegetable curries, pickles, pongal (rice mixed with boiled milk and sugar), sambhar (a spicy lentil dish), and a kind of savory fritter called vada . In addition, being coastal means there is easy access to coconuts, prawns, fish, and other seafood. Southern India is also known for fried or griddle-cooked snacks such as dosas , a crepe-like rice pancake filled with whatever the cook fancies: vegetables, chutneys, or curries. Uttapams are thicker versions of dosas , and instead of a filling, they are topped with

In the south, the Festival of Lights is called Deepavali rather than Diwali, but the celebration is much the same across the country.

Chapter 1: Southern India


ingredients, similar to how a pizza is made. Idli and vada are first cousins to donuts and are served with sambars and rasams , soup like dishes. Southern Indians rely on rice as a main cooking staple, using it for main dishes as well as an ingredient for a host of other popular

dishes. While many of these foods are common across the southern region, each state also has its own signature dishes.


Throughout much of India’s history, rice has been a food staple. During World War II, a widespread rice shortage was at the heart of a devastating famine. Historically, India had imported rice from Burma (now Myanmar). But in 1942, Burma fell to the Japanese, and the British banned importing rice from there. Many of India’s own rice farms were destroyed by the military using the land to build airstrips, railroads, and military camps, reducing production even more. The scarcity caused the cost of rice to skyrocket, and it became too expensive for most people to afford. The British-controlled government redistributed rice away from rural districts to feed the military and workers in essential war industries. By May 1943, the first reports of people dying from starvation emerged. In 1944, the British started bringing in food and distributed it to the poorest residents. That year, Bengal also had a bumper rice harvest, so gradually the famine waned—but not before an estimated three million Indians starved to death. The famine and the slow British response fueled the Quit India Movement and hastened India to gain its independence just a few years later.



A Little Sweet Karnataka’s largest city and capital, Bangalore, is a popular destination for tourists, known for its craft beer scene and world class restaurants as well as nearby beautiful beaches, wildlife preserves, national parks, ancient ruins, colonial-era palaces, and numerous yoga centers. Karnataka cuisine includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare. In general, Karnataka recipes are sweeter and less spicy than most of the other southern states’ dishes. The state is the primary producer of ragi , a nutritious, low-calorie millet that is a staple in rural areas, typically prepared in balls called ragi mudde . This is steamed dumplings made from ragi flour and served with stew ( saaru ), rice, and yogurt. Palyas —fried, boiled, or sautéed vegetables—and pickles could also be served.

Ragi mudde is a popular Karnataka specialty.

Chapter 1: Southern India


Chiroti , also known as Chirote , is a southern delicacy often served as a dessert on special occasions such as weddings or festivals.

Another regional dish is masala dosa , made from rice, lentils, potato, fenugreek, ghee , and curry leaves, then served with chutneys and sambar . First created in the city of Udupi, idli is a traditional savory steamed cake made from a batter of fermented lentils and rice. Idlis are typically served hot as a breakfast food either with sambar or chutney dips or seasoned with various spices. The cuisine in the northern part of Karnataka tends to be less sweet. Jolada roti , an unleavened bread made from sorghum ; thaliipeet , a savory multi-grain flatbread made with roasted grains, legumes, and spices; and Bhatkali chicken biryani are signature dishes.



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