TRADITIONAL FOODS OF INDIA AND ITS IMPORTANCE
Traditional foods are foods and dishes that are passed on through generations or which have been consumed for many generations. We have long history of use of traditional foods in India, over 5000 years. It is influenced by region, religion, traditions and culture. Over the years, food also undergoes major changes. It also undergoes evolution and adaptation with geo-climatic conditions and societal advancement. Traditional foods are rich source of essential nutrients. It is also part of traditional medicine system. Food security can be ensured with food processing while managing the goodness of traditional foods.
In today’s era of new food trends like food home delivery, social media influence on food, plastic packaging, fast food, junk food, instant meals, traditional foods are our savior.
Indian cuisine is known for its large number of dishes. India is quite famous for its diverse multicuisine which shows unity in diversity. The staple food in India includes wheat, rice, pulses. Traditional spices of India can be used for their amazing health benefits.
- Cardamom is called elaichi in hindi. Cardamom helps relieve sore throat and also keeps the body cool.
- Cinnamon, known as dalchini in hindi, is anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.
- Asafoetida, known as hing in hindi, is also loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
- Ginger is anti-inflammatory and also boosts immunity. It is called adrak in hindi.
- Turmeric is famous all over the world due to golden milk or golden latte. It is very excellent antioxidant due to its phenolic character. It is called haldi in hindi. It is used regularly in Indian cooking.
- Cumin, known as zeera in hindi, helps in indigestion.
- Carrom seeds are called ajwain in hindi. They are also excellent for indigestion.
- Cloves, known as laung in hindi, boosts immunity, has strong antimicrobial properties. It works excellent for tooth ache.
- Black pepper is excellent anti oxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is called kali mirch in hindi.
- Basil is a holy plant in hindus. Its leaves possess anti-inflammatory properties and it also promotes healthy gut. It is known as tulsi in hindi.
Nowadays, people generally cook in steel, aluminium, non stick or glass utensils. But earlier, traditional utensils of india were earthen ware, iron utensils, copper vessels, mortar and pestle. Earthenware has heat bearing capacity for open fire slow cooking. Slow cooking preserve nutrients and keep the taste of food intact. Iron utensils were also used extensively. They help in improving haemoglobin levels as iron gets released in food from utensils. Copper vessels purify blood and some toxins from the body.
TRADITIONAL NORTH INDIAN FOOD
Staple food crop of North India is wheat. Traditional north Indian diet consists of rotis, pranthas, dal, vegetable, curd, salad. People in North India also use milk and other dairy products like curd, paneer etc. Main cooking oil used in most dishes is either mustard oil or desi ghee. Traditional north Indian diet includes wheat bread, that provides carbohydrates that provides energy, vegetables, that provides vitamins and minerals. Vegetables also contain fibre for healthy digestive system. Rice is also important part of north Indian diet but with breads, it should constitute 1/4th of a meal. Pulses are important source of protein. The bacteria in the curd help improve digestion. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, mustard leaves, fenugreek leaves etc are also important part of North Indian diet. They are rich in iron and other micronutrients. Salads and condiments are also very important and are rich in vitamins and minerals. Fruits are rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants.
TRADITIONAL SOUTH INDIAN FOOD
Staple diet of South India is rice that is served with sambar or vegetables or rasam or curd. Coconut or coconut oil is widely used in south Indian cooking. Idli is a fermented food prepared by steaming black gram and rice. Curd, lassi, buttermilk, dosa, kanji, appam, ambali, sinki, gundrak are important part of south Indian diet. Typical traditional south Indian thali includes parboiled rice, rice podi, mango thokku, kesari, sambar, chapatti, rasam, mor kuzhambu, potato poriyal, vathal kuzhambu, payasam, appalam
TRADITIONAL WEST INDIAN FOOD
The Rajasthani cuisine has vegetables, wide variety of spicy chutneys and pickles. In Gujarat, little sugar is added to almost every dish for a bit of sweetness. In West India, most of the items are steamed and roasted that make them easily digestible Eg: Puranpoli from Maharashtra.
TRADITIONAL EAST INDIAN FOOD
Rice and fish dominate main meals of eastern India. Main methods of cooking are steaming and deep frying. Also milk and milk products are used in many dishes.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF H.P. are Chana madra and kullu trout fish. Chana madra contains plant based protein and insoluble fibre. It also helps in controlling blood sugar levels. Kullu trout fish contains protein, potassium, phosphorus, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin B complex and selenium.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF KASHMIR are chochwor and rogan josh mutton curry. Chochwor is rich in calcium. It reduces acidity, treats mouth ulcers, high blood pressure and heart burn. Rogan josh mutton curry contains Vit B12, zinc, Iron, phosphorus, Vit A and essential amino acids.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF HARYANA are singri ki subji and bajre ki khichdi. Singri ki subji is rich in protein and fibre. Bajre ki khichdi is gluten free and controls acidity. It is also rich in protein, fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF PUNJAB are makki ki roti – sarson ka saag, lassi. Makki ki roti and sarson ka saag are rich in phytonutrients like phenols and antioxidants like Vit A, Vit C, Vit K, Vit E. Lassi is rich in calcium. It also promotes growth of healthy bacteria, boosts dental and bone health.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF DELHI are butter chicken, bhature chane and chana chaat. Butter chicken is high in calories, proteins and fats. Bhature chane maintains healthy bones, reduces inflammation though it is a high calorie meal. Chana chaat is boiled black chana with vegetables. It provides goodness of fibre, protein and antioxidants.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF KERALA are Idli, vada, dosa, sambar, rice-coconut chutney. In idli, vada and dosa, fermentation increases bio-availability of nutrients. Sambar is made up of arhar dal that is good source of protein and antioxidants. Rice coconut chutney is prepared through steaming method and it is high in manganese, selenium, fibre, MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides), carbohydrates.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF TAMIL NADU are rasam, uttapam and coconut chutney. Rasam prevents constipation, facilitates digestion and rich in antioxidants. Coconut is rich in lauric acid.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF ANDHRA PRADESH are pullihora and curd rice. Tamarind rice stimulates bile production that leads to efficient digestion. They are rich in fibre and ease bowel movements. Curd rice restore healthy microbial balance, helps in better digestion and relieve diarrhoea as well.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF KARNATKA are ragi and jowar roti / dosa / balls and udupi sambar. Ragi and jowar roti is gluten free, rich in fibre, calcium, good carbs, amino acids and vitamin D. It is also a superfood for diabetics. Udupi sambar is high in fibre, antioxidants, iron, zinc, folate and magnesium.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF MAHARASHTRA are pav bhaji, vada pav, missal pav. These are made from sprouted moth and moong beans. Thus these are good source of Vit A, Vit C, fibre, folate, Vit B and Vit D.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF GUJARAT are khaman, thepla, khandvi, dhokla. These are fermented, low calorie foods. These are good source of protein and calcium. These contain negligible fat. Gujarati snacks are generally gut friendly snacks with low glycemic index.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF GOA are sea food, coconut and coconut water. Sea foods like fish, pork, meat curry are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, Vit B, Vit D, Vit E and selenium. These are good for healthy skin and hair. Coconut is high in manganese, selenium, fibre and MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides). Coconut is good for bone health and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and cholesterol. Coconut water is excellent antioxidant, maintains electrolyte balance, good for hypertension and improves digestion.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF BIHAR are dhuska, litti chokha and sattu prantha. Dhuska is prepared with lentils and rice. It aids in protein synthesis that helps in strengthening muscles. Litti chokha and sattu prantha are good source of dietary fibre, vitamins, manganese, folate and phytonutrients. Moreover, these are excellent antioxidants.
TRADITIONAL DISHES OF WEST BENGAL are alu-parwal potol posto, aam pora shorbat. Aloo parwal potol posto includes steamed potato with mustard seeds and poppy seeds. This helps in cooling digestive system, good source of carbohydrates and is anti-inflammatory. Aam pora shorbat is good for stomach and liver problems.
TRADITIONAL HEALTHY SWEETS OF INDIA
- PINNI FROM PUNJAB = It is prepared with desi ghee, wheat flour, jaggery, almonds. It is rich in nutrients.
- PAYASAM FROM KERALA = It is made from coconut milk and jaggery. It lowers cholesterol levels and prevent colon cancer.
- GHEVAR FROM RAJASTHAN = It is made from whole flour, ghee, jaggery. It is good source of carbohydrates.
- MODAK FROM MAHARASHTRA = It is made with rice, coconut, ghee. It reduces cholesterol, prevents constipation and good for thyroid patients.
The traditional foods are nutrient rich and are best in current scenario as they support health and wellness. They are healthy because their way of preparation is healthy. Functional ingredients of these foods leads to improvement in health in a holistic way. Traditional foods have a long history of supporting health and wellness. We can’t let our traditional dishes to become extinct. Lets all pledge to learn, make and enjoy our traditional recipes for better health.
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