The food of North India traces its descents from Persian ancestors who started filtering in India from the 11th century A.D. onwards and then more definitely from the 16th century A.D. when the Mughals came to power. The Mughals brought with them Persian and Afghan cooks who popularized cuisines in North Indian which are rich and fragrant Persian rice dishes, such as pilafs and biryanis (meat-based pilafs). Garnished with pounded silver, these dishes along with spicy kormas (braised meat in creamy sauces), koftas (grilled spicy meatballs) and kababs used to grace the tables of emperors. Even today, these dishes are cooked and eaten all over north India. You can sample excellent Mughlai cuisine in New Delhi.
North Indian Cuisine is largely influenced by the Mughal style of cooking. In their nearly 500 years rule over India, they contributed a lot to India including cuisine. Since the Mughals were originally from central Asia, the cuisine bears much similarity to the central Asian style of cooking. Abundant uses of butter based curries and dried fruits and nuts are striking features of north Indian cuisine. Wheat that grows profusely in northern India forms the larger portion of north Indian meal. Contrary to the southern and Northern part of India where rice is the staple food, north India lives on Roti, Chappatis, Paratha and Tandoori all made from wheat.
Lots of oil, ghee, butter along with rich spices are used as the medium for cooking which lend the north Indian food a very strong flavor. Meat also enjoys a special place in north Indian cuisine. A variety of Kebabs and Biriyanis (a tantalizing marinade of rice and meat) bear the Mughal legacy. Samosa is possibly the most popular snack in north India. Lassi is another beverage made from curd, which has an overwhelming taste. Gulab Jamun, Motichur Laddoo are popular sweets in this region. Some interesting north Indian dishes are Reshmi Kabab, Seekh Kabab, and Shammi Kabab, Kashmiri Pulao, Tandoori Chicken and Mutton to name only a few.
As mentioned earlier North Indian cuisine is distinguished by the proportionally high use of dairy products; milk, paneer, ghee (clarified butter), and yoghurt (yogurt, yoghourt) are all common ingredients. Gravies are typically dairy-based. Other common ingredients include chillies, saffron, and nuts. North Indian cooking features the use of the "tawa" (griddle) for baking flat breads like roti and paratha, and "tandoor" (a large and cylindrical charcoal-fired oven) for baking breads such as naan, and kulcha; main courses like tandoori chicken also cook in the tandoor. Other breads like puri and bhatoora, which are deep fried in oil, are also common. Goat and lamb meats are favored ingredients of many northern Indian recipes.
The samosa is a popular North Indian snack, and now commonly found in other parts of India, Central Asia, North America, Britain and the Middle East. A common variety is filled with boiled, fried, or mashed potato. Other fillings include minced meat, cheese (paneer), mushroom (khumbi), and chick pea.
The staple food of most of North India is a variety of lentils, vegetables, and roti (wheat based bread). The varieties used and the method of preparation can vary from place to place. Popular snacks, side-dishes and drinks include mirchi bada, buknu, bhujiya, chaat, kachori, imarti, several types of pickles (known as achar), murabba, sharbat, aam panna and aam papad. Popular sweets are known as mithai (means sweetmeat in Hindi), such as gulab jamun, jalebi, peda, petha, rewadi, gajak, bal mithai, singori, kulfi, falooda, khaja, ras malai, gulkand, and several varieties of laddu, barfi and halwa.
Some common North Indian Recipes such as the various kebabs and most of the meat dishes originated with Muslims incursions into the country. Considering their shared historic and cultural heritage, Pakistani cuisine and North Indian cuisine have very similar source. North Indian cuisine encompasses the culinary traditions of the various northern countries, including Punjabi, Awadh, Kashmiri, Rajasthani, Gharwal, and Pahari. Due to climate and growing conditions, wheat plays a stronger role in northern Indian cuisine than in other areas of the country. Also Tandoori cuisine comes from the north.
Northern Indian cuisine has the following main schools of cooking : Kashmiri, Punjabi , Rajasthani, Pahari, UP, Awadh or Luchnawi.
The piece de resistance in the wazwan, the traditional 24-course banquet with many cooking ways and varieties of meat - some in curry, some dry, some pounded in various sizes. These are carefully cooked overnight by the master chef, Vasta Waza, and his retinue of wazas. In this the people will have to sit on the floor in fours and share the meal out of a large metal plate called the trami. The rice will be in a mound in the center, which will be quartered for the four who sat around the trami. Freshly made yogurt and chutney served in an earthen pot also is there to share. The meal begins with a ritual washing of hands at a basin called the tash-t-nari, which is taken around by attendants. As starters, seekh kababs - methi korma, tabak maaz, safed murg and zafrani murg,- will be served along with the first few courses. Seven dishes are a must for these occasions- Rista, Rogan Josh, Tabak Maaz, Daniwal Korma, Aab Gosht, Marchwangan Korma and Gushtaba.
Sarson ka saag, originating from Punjab. This dish of mustard greens simmered and slow cooked over coals along with rajma, kali ma or lentils and served in dhabas or roadside stall, which many say has the best food in Northern India. The dishes are served with unleavened bread of cornmeal or wheat and a dollop of butter or with steamed basmati rice.
Gram flour or Besan is a major ingredient here and is used to make some of the delicacies like Khata, Gatte Ki Sabzi and Pakodi. Powdered lentils are used for Mangodi and Papad. Bajra and corn are used all over the state for preparations of Rabdi, Khichdi and Rotis. Sweets include Laddoos, Malpuas, Jalebies, Rasogullas, Mishri Mawa, Mawa Katchori , Sohan Halwa, Mawa and many more.
Most families in Uttar Pradesh eat vegetarian food. Banaras, India`s holiest city is in UP, is famous for it`s bazaars full of ` jalebis`, sweetmeats and a myriad variety of ` kachoris`.
Awadh style of cooking are world famous for its tender meat dishes and excellent sweets. Lucknow is known world wide for its biryanis and different meat preparations. Nihari and naan; a mutton dish served for breakfast is one of the most popular dishes of Lucknow.
North Indian cooks tend to use their spices in freshly ground powder form. Chilly peppers are common to Indian cuisine, and in the north, the Deghi Mirchi, or Kashmiri Chilly pepper are especially popular. Ground red Chilly powder is important northern Indian flavor, as is turmeric, sweet bay or laurel leaves, cumin, black and green cardamom, coriander, cassia tree bark - for which cinnamon is often substituted - cloves, saffron, nutmeg, black and yellow mustard seeds, fennel, asafetida, curry leaves, fenugreek, tamarind, fresh cilantro leaves, and mint.
Garam masala is a spice mixture used extensively in north Indian cuisine. This is a blend of spices, which is loosely built upon a set of common spices, but varies widely from region to region, even from family to family. In the north, a basic garam masala would consist of raw cardamom seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Ghee, or clarified butter, is particularly important to the flavor of northern cuisine.
North Indian flavors have become an important part of international cuisine, spreading through the world`s metropolitan centers and into the food cultures of many countries. Beloved especially for its specialized tandoori dishes and vegetarian creations, North Indian cuisine continues to expand and flourish globally.
Popular North Indian Dishes