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



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