Indian cuisine is diversified in its varieties similar to its cultures, races and regions. Thousands of variations of dishes are prepared in the different parts of the country everyday. The essence of Indian cooking lies in the aroma of the spices which are blended together and added to enhance the basic flavour of a particular dish. Spices are always freshly ground to the required combination called Massalas. Many of these spices are noted for their medicinal values and are also used as appetisers and digestive. The ingredients for the masala vary from region to region.
Besides spices, ghee and curd are other two main ingredients in Indian cooking. Even though India is known for the Hindu vegetarian tradition, many Hindus eat meat now. Meat dishes are more common in North India while more vegetables are eaten in the South. The Muslim tradition is more evident in the cooking of meats. Mughlai foods comprising of kababs, kurmas, koftas, biriyanis, rogan josh, tandoori chicken, tandoori rotis etc are contribution of Muslims.
Rice is the staple food of the South while in the North it is supplemented or substituted by pooris, chappathis or nan. Dhal(lentil soup) and Dhai (curd) are common throughout India. Vegetable dishes are prepared based on the main dish with which they are served. Rice is served with vegetable curries, vegetable side dishes and curd. As India has a very long coastal area, dishes prepared with fish are also popular.
Verities of sweets representing the style and taste of different regions are available in India. The main ingredients of the sweets and deserts are sugar, milk flour and ghee.