By Amanda Smith
Updated April 16, 2014

This week, World Flavor Wednesday is travelling to the land of fragrant curries and kebabs. Indian cuisine is ever evolving, constantly being shaped by religious and cultural traditions, as well as regional availability of ingredients.

Indian cuisine is heavily based on spices, which lend unique colors and flavors to each dish. Cumin, cardamom, chili, turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cinnamon, saffron, ginger and cloves are just a few of the many spices frequently found in Indian favorites. Spices are also an integral part of India’s history, as many were first discovered on its sun-warmed soil. The spice trade between India and Europe is often identified as the spark that began Europe’s Age of Discovery. Consequently, Indian influences can be found in other world cuisines, including those from Southeast Asia, the British Isles and the Caribbean.

If you’re lucky, you may have a jar of garam masala in your spice cabinet; this is a distinctive Indian spice blend typically consisting of ground peppercorns, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom. The composition of garam masala differs regionally, and each Indian chef has his or her own favorite blend. Other common Indian ingredients include grains and legumes, such as millet, rice, lentils and chickpeas. Fruits, vegetables, honey and dairy products are consumed regularly, as well as meat on occasion. While meat is widely available, many people in India have adopted a vegetarian diet due to religious preferences.

Use the following recipes as inspiration for your own Indian feast. If you want to eat in true Indian style, try sitting on the floor and eating with your right hand rather than using utensils. Or, if you’re less adventurous, use Indian flatbread or roti as a vessel to scoop up your saucy meal. Enjoy!