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India has long been a popular destination for travelers, in part because of its amazingly diverse culture, geography and rich history. It is a land of contrasts and extremes. India has the world's youngest (and still growing) mountains, the Himalayas, as well as the world's oldest rocks. The country also has the wettest place in the world, at Chirapunji, and the hottest desert at Thar. There is constant snow in the Himalayas and Karakoram, and tropical rainforests in Kerela. If geography has an impact on the evolution of a people's diet, India has certainly benefited from it, producing one of the richest and most diverse cuisines in the world. You could try a new dish every day and it would take more than a few lifetimes to exhaust the entire repertoire of Indian cuisine.

If you travel from the northeastern states to the south or from east to west, you will discover a distinct variety of flavors and spices. While wheat is a staple in the northern, western and central states, rice dominates in the south and east. While the heady aromas of saffron and anise welcome you to Kashmir, a whiff of curry leaves tempered in oil will make you feel at home in Tamil Nadu. If a diverse presentation of pulses interests you in Rajasthan, the great fish diversity of Bengal will delight you.

But even though the regional cuisines are very different, they have some things in common. Indian food is healthy, with grains, legumes and lots of vegetables at every meal. The dishes highlight hot, tangy, sweet and spicy flavors in exquisite balance and are much easier to cook than you would expect. In this blog, I want to dispel the myth that Indian food is elaborate to prepare. Once you have basic spices on hand, all you have to do is throw them in a pan.

Use the best quality ingredients you can find, as good ingredients are essential to good cooking. Measure, chop and distribute the ingredients before you start heating the pan. Taste each dish before serving and adjust seasoning as needed.

Whether you've been cooking Indian food for years or are just starting out, these recipes, some in Hindi and others in regional languages as titles to honor the dishes' origins, will take you on an amazing journey. All that's missing now is the crackling of the spices in the oil and the unique aroma that splatters and sizzles from the pan. 

Let's get going and have fun cooking!

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