South Asia--a culturally rich region of the Asian continent comprised of the Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan and Maldives. This eight country region is home to a variety of ethnic groups, languages, and religions. It is also the home of some of the most exotically delicious cuisines that many have yet to experience.
While most people travel to this region for the beautiful beaches, rich history, and ancient culture, many are often surprised by the gastronomic adventure they also encounter during their visits. With each country in the region offering its own specialty cuisine, it's definitely an area worth visiting if you're looking to try something new.
Bangladeshi cuisine has been deeply influenced by Bengali cooking, as well as its history, geography and climate. With rice as its main staple, the food of Bangladesh features a variety of herbs and spices, with the addition of mustard oil and a clarified butter known as Ghee.
A visit to Bangladesh would mean a diet mainly consisted of Dal, a kind of split bean that has been dried, freshwater fish, crustaceans, and vegetable dishes. Expect that all dishes will be highly aromatic and will be packing a slight kick.
Due to its high climates and mountainous geography, the humble country of Bhutan offers food that features a lot of red rice and maize. Their diet also includes a variety of meats, ferns, lentils, and dried vegetables.
Much like most of South Asia's cuisines, the Bhutanese enjoy spicing their meals with chilli peppers, especially during the colder seasons. As the country is ideal for raising animals, milk, cheese and butter are also staples in their food.
Perhaps the most popular cuisine to come from South Asia, Indian cuisine features an array of traditional cooking methods belonging to different parts of India. Though different areas of India feature relatively different cuisines, they are all tied together through the use of spices, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
Indian cuisine is best known for its complex use of herbs and spices, thus resulting in food that is very fragrant and flavorful. Like most countries in the region, their food is often served with rice or naan bread as staples.
A country that is best known for its beautiful beaches and peaceful islands, the Maldives thrives on the natural resources coming from its tropical climate and bountiful seas. As such, Maldivian cuisine is known to be based on three things: fish, coconuts, and starch.
The three main ingredients, as well as their by-products, make up the simple yet elegant food that perfectly suits the tropical feel of the country. Maldivian food also gives great emphasis on curries, usually fish, chicken or vegetable, cooked with a complex mix of spices.
Nepalese cuisine is highly rooted on its harsh climates. As such, food is usually very filling, hot, and feature extremely spicy condiments such as chutney or pickles. It is usually accompanied by boiled grains such as rice.
Traditional Nepalese cooking also features citrus notes from lemons or limes as well as fresh green chilis known as hariyo khursani. Though the cuisine is highly dependent on different kinds of vegetables, buffalo, goat and chicken meat are also common to find.
This refined blend of South Asian cooking finds many similarities Indian, Central and Middle Eastern Asian cuisines. This more meat-oriented style of cooking reflects the diversity in ethnicity and culture found within the country.
Pakistani food also finds much success in fusing with other Eastern and Western cuisines, thus resulting in popular fusion restaurants found all over the urban centers. While the cuisine is continuously adapting to the changing world, it maintains its Halal standard, as Pakistan is an Islamic nation.
Due to its colonization by the Dutch from 1948-1972, the food of Sri Lanka is heavily influenced by history and culture. Sri Lankan cuisine features cooking styles from South Indian traders, Dutch influences, and its rice and coconut staples.
The cuisine of Sri Lanka also heavily utilizes spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg. This is a reflection of Sri Lanka's bountiful spice growth, which is also one of the country's major exports.
The plateau of Tibet features culinary styles from native Tibet, India and Nepal. Due to its landscape and climate, as well as its limited resources, Tibetan food is highly dependent on the use of goat, yak, and mutton.
Barley grain is the staple food of the Tibetans. They are also keen on using dairy products from their animals in their cooking. Though the harsh conditions of the country make it hard for the people to avail of spices and condiments, the food they create truly reflects the spirits of the people and the mountain.
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