This section deals with various condiments consumed along with the main course of a meal in India. These condiments form a very important part of any meal in India as they contribute to the flavor, aroma and spread of the meal. These are prepared in various combinations according to the regional traditions and cultures.
- achaar (pickles)
- kadaa (soups)
- salaad (salads)
- mithai (sweets)
- sharbat (juices, smoothies, milkshakes)
- chutney (dips, pastes & sauces)
- murabba (jam, fruit preservative)
- paan (betel leaf / betel quid)
achaar (pickles): refers to a dish made by the process of preserving food for future consumption. Achaar is prepared in a specific process of fermentation, along with oils, spices and various ingredients in such a way that the main base ingredient retains it flavors and is enhanced by the additional spices and oils. In India achaar / pickles are made with many fruits and vegetables along with spices like garlic, ginger, cloves, mustard seeds, cinnamon, asafoetida, fenugreek, turmeric, red chilly powder etc. In India, achaar / pickles are made mostly with mustard oil or sesame oil for their strong aroma, health benefits along with preserving qualities. A few popular varieties of pickles in India are aam ka achaar, mirchi ka achaar, leswe ka achaar, gobhi ka achaar, gaajar ka achaar, nimbu ka achaar, muli ka achaar, tamaatar ka achaar, pyaaz ka achaar, ker ka achaar, amla ka achaar, kathal ka achaar, ambaade ka achaar (gongura pachhadi), kotmir ka achaar, pudina ka achaar, lehsun ka achaar, adrak ka achaar etc. Storage of these pickles is an elaborated process, which also specifies the kind of container to be used for preserving the pickle.
kadaa / kadha (soups): refers to traditional ayurvedic preparations made with various ingredients generally consumed for health and wellness. Kadaa / kadha is a kind of decoction which has been used as an ayurvedic home remedy to cure various ailments like cold, cough, soar throat, fever, digestion etc since ages in India. Each kadaa / kadha has a different recipe according to the ailment to be cured, different combinations of ingredients, spices, herbs and a different process of preparation. Generally kadaa / kadha are sour in taste, does not appeal to the taste buds since the concentration is completely on curing the ailment. Nowadays, the modern version of this kadaa / kadha is referred to as soups with some major changes in the process and ingredients involved in the making. Here in soups, the concept of kadaa / kadha includes focus on taste and color quotient along with health and wellness. However, with the fusion of new ingredients for the taste and color factor, the impact of health quotient has been compromised to a large extent. A few popular varieties of soups in India are Tomato soup, Corn soup, Vegetable soup, Manchow soup, Coriander & Lemon soup, Mushroom soup, Hot & Sour soup etc.
salaad (salad’s): refers to fresh vegetables cut into slices for raw consumption before and along with a meal. The grated or chopped version of the same is also very popular and is called as kachumber in India. Initially, vegetables and fruits were the original form of food consumed directly by earlier mankind. However, cooking methods have evolved and gave scope for a wider spread and flavors of the food across the world with many other ingredients. Still the actual form of food which involves raw vegetables and fruits is very much in existence. This is mainly due to the health benefits and the nutritional values involved in the salads. Salaad / salad’s are made in many varieties and various combinations of fruits, vegetables and sometimes both, served with garnishing of spices like salt, pepper, cumin powder, lemon juice etc. A few varieties includes sprouts along with combination of fruits and vegetables to make salaad / salad a major portion of meal. This process is mainly followed by people who wish to loose weight and control obesity. Consumption of salaad / salad fills up the tummy to a good extent leaving less or reasonable space for a meal. A few popular varieties of salads in India are onion salad, mix vegetable salad, fruit salad etc.
mithai (sweets): refers to the dessert section of India where the mithai / sweets are made in many varieties and has been a very important part of Indian food, culture and tradition. In India mithai / sweets is also one form of offering to god where it is made in a very specific process for the prasad / prasadam and offered to deities. There are many varieties and combinations of these mithai / sweets in India as per regional customs and traditions. The color, flavor and presentation differs from one region to another region and also includes local ingredients. Milk is one of the biggest source for many of the mithai / sweets in India and its varieties are irresistible when garnished with dry fruits. Some of the varieties of sweets are made with fruits, vegetables and combination of both. While some varieties of sweets are made and served hot, some varieties are served at normal room temperature, few of the varieties are served chilled. These mithai / sweets have become an integral part of every household irrespective of caste, culture, religion and regions. These sweets have been very important part of festivals, marriages, birth ceremonies and many other occasions, where a wide variety is served to cater to the taste buds. A few popular varieties of sweets in India are moti choor ke laddu, kaju barfi, kheer, badaam barfi, rava kesari, rasgulla, gulab jamun, besan ki chakki, rabdi / rabri, petha, kesar ka peda, soan papdi, til papdi, gajak / gajjak, revadi, gud ke chaawal, panjiri, churma, suji ka halwa etc.
sharbat (juices, smoothies, milkshakes): refers to the liquid refreshments which are made of fruits, dry fruits, milk, yogurt, fruit or vegetable extract’s in India. Traditional sharbat’s in India refers to liquid refreshment made with water, sugar syrup, salt, pepper, fruit or vegetable extract. Few varieties like nimbu sharbat, rose sharbat, khus khus sharbat, kokum sharbat are very prominent in India. Here we discuss a few basic varieties of modern day version of sharbat’s in India as under:
juices refers to liquid refreshments generally made with fruits or vegetable being squeezed or churned in a mixer. These form the best taste and quality of fruits or vegetables extract for general consumption. This also has a lot of health benefits when consumed fresh and without any additions. These juices have natural sweetness and sometimes sour flavor depending upon the base of the juice. However for taste quotient people do add chat powder, pepper, black salt, sugar, lemon etc to satisfy their taste buds.
smoothies refers to liquid refreshments generally made with fruits or vegetables blended with yogurt to make a thick beverage. This smoothie is very bright in colour and has an awesome taste. Most of the smoothies are made of raw seasonal fruits and vegetables. Smoothies can be made by adding crushed ice, milk, water, nuts, chocolate, fruit juice, tea, sweeteners etc to enhance its taste quotient.
milkshakes refers to liquid refreshments generally made with milk, crushed ice, ice-cream or iced milk. It is often mixed with fruits, vegetables, nuts, chocolate, flavors for desired taste quotient. Milkshakes made with ice cream or iced milk are generally thick in texture so they are also called as thick shakes. The thinner versions of milkshakes are also referred to as frappe is some parts of the world.
chutney (dips, pastes & sauces): refers to fresh sauces made in India with various ingredients like fruits, vegetables, salt, pepper, chillies, sugar, vinegar, little pulses etc. Traditionally these chutney’s are made freshly minced and consumed with snacks, main course and other food items. Here chutneys are made of many varieties where the base of each chutney is different and the process of making is unique for each kind of chutney. A few popular chutney’s in India are mint chutney, coconut chutney, tamarind chutney, peanut chutney, tomato chutney, coriander chutney, mango chutney, ginger chutney, onion chutney, yam chutney, cucumber chutney, gooseberry chutney, garlic chutney, lemon chutney, bottle gourd chutney, radish chutney, carrot chutney, beetroot chutney, dates chutney etc. These chutneys are the key source of taste quotient in many of the dishes in India. Fresh made chutneys have a small shelf life due to which they are freshly made regularly and consumed with food. Nowadays the process of preservation is on growth with usage of relevant preservatives. However the fresh made chutney still enjoys a better demand than the preserved ones. The main difference between a chutney and an achaar is the shelf life and preservative’s used in an achaar are much different than in a chutney.
murabba (jam, fruit preservative): refers to candied fruit preservative / jam made with fruits, sugar and spices in India. In India murabba is made in both dry and wet versions as per the need. Murabba is traditionally used as a medicine to many of the common ailments. Murabba is also used as a condiment to many of the dishes to enhance the taste. A few popular varieties of murabba in India are amla ka murabba, bel ka murabba, seb ka murabba, khubani ka murabba, aam ka murabba, adrak ka murabba, strawberry murabba, cherries murabba etc.
paan (betel leaf / betel quid): refers to a traditional mouth freshener and digestive aid in India since ages. It is made of primarily betel leaf with chuna (slaked lime), katha (catechu – acacia tree extract), supari (areca nut), saunf (fennel), nariyal (coconut), khajur (dates), peppermint, fruit essence, elainchi (cardamom), gulkand (sweetened and mashed rose petals), laung (clove) etc along with many other ingredients depending upon the type of paan. There are many varieties of leaf’s for making paan like bangla patta, mitha patta, calcutta patta, banarasi patta, magai patta etc. Each of these leaves have their own taste and qualities when mixed with other ingredients to make a paan. A person who makes a paan is often referred as paanwaala / panwari / panwadi in India. In Ayurveda, paan is referred to as a medicine for many of the ailments and also traditions in India have a strong liking towards paan during auspicious occasions. It is often used to worship deities by many customs and traditions in India. A few varieties of paan are mitha paan, minakshi paan, saada paan, zarda paan (tobacco paan) etc.
A few popular dessert items in India are:
kulfi refers to a traditional version of ice-cream in India which is generally made with khoa / khova (condensed milk), dry fruits, sugar etc. It is sometimes served with fruit syrup’s.
falooda: refers to a liquid dessert dish made with vermicelli, rose syrup, sweet basil seeds, milk, jelly and served chilled. It is sometimes served with ice-cream topping also.
fruit custard: refers to a liquid dessert dish made with milk, fruits, elainchi, sugar, strawberries, cherries and served chilled.