Indian cooking is as varied as the country itself, with dozens of distinctive regional culinary traditions ranging from the classic Mughlai cuisine of the north to the feisty coconut- and chilli-infused flavours of the south; these are often a revelation to first-time visitors, whose only contact with Indian food will probably have been through the stereotypical Anglo-Indian dishes served up in the majority of restaurants overseas. Best known is the cuisine of north India, with its signature biriyanis, tandooris and rich cream- and yogurt-based sauces accompanied with thick naan breads, evidence of the region’s long contact with Central Asia. The food of south India is light years away, exemplified by the ubiquitous vegetarian “meal” – a huge mound of rice served on a banana leaf and accompanied with fiery pickles – or by the classic masala dosa, a crisp rice pancake wrapped around a spicy potato filling. There’s also a host of regional cuisines to explore – Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati, Goan, Keralan and Kashmiri, to name just a few of the most distinctive – each of which has its own special dishes, spices and cooking techniques.

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