North India and South India

Understanding Indian Diversity

India’s large land mass makes for some cultural differences. Yet they are so markedly dissimilar you’d think they are two continents instead of one. Looking into their cultural differences, we take a short peek into their traditions, music, dance, and cuisine, and a little into their racial origins, language and dressing style.

The Language

For language, the Dravidian language of 5000 years is still spoken by more than 200 million people today, unrelated to those of Indo-European descent. The North Indian people belong to the Indo-Aryan family, akin to modern European languages.

Attire & Traditional Styles

They also both dress differently. North Indian women widely wear kamiz, calf-length shirt and baggy silk or cotton trousers tied at the ankles. South Indian women prefer saris, cloth as long as 8 meters wrapped around the waist with one end draped over the shoulder, exposing the midriff. Men from the north wear salwar, baggy trousers, typical of Muslim countries; the south have their dhotis, 5 meters material knotted around the waist and extending to cover most of the legs.

Cuisine

South Indian cuisine is spicier, hotter than the other, using more tamarind and coconut in their dishes. They also consume more rice; lentils and stews are prominent. Fish is widely consumed. Predominant dishes are dosa, idli, rasam and sambar. In the north, wheat is a staple diet. They prepare paratas, chapatti, puri and rotis from wheat flour. North Indians use more milk products. However, the delicacies of both North and South India are delicious and famous worldwide.

Appreciating South Indian Culture in Bellevue

Your Indian restaurant in Bellevue gives you just a bird’s eye-view of the multilingual, multi-ethnic and pluralistic society that is India. Know more when you dine with us at Spice Route.

Tamarind: Tropical Fruit with Advantages

The Tale of the Tamarind

Tamarind is a tropical fruit, native to Africa but also grows in India, Pakistan and many other tropical regions. It grows from a hardwood tree with bean-like pods, inside is a fibrous pulp with seeds. The pulp is green and sour which later ripens into a juicy, sweet-sour paste. Somewhat like Arabian dates, sometimes it’s called the ‘date of India’.

The tamarind is a versatile fruit – it is used for cooking, as snacks, also for medicinal purposes. South and Southeast Asia, Mexico, the Middle East and the Caribbean use tamarind in many of their dishes, including their edible seeds and leaves. It is used in sauces, marinades, chutneys, drinks and desserts.

As far as traditional medicine goes, the tamarind was commonly used to treat diarrhea, constipation, fever and peptic ulcers. The fruit’s bark and leaves were said to promote wound healing. Modern research is trying to find out if it also has medicinal value.

Tamarind contains polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The extract from its seeds also help lower blood sugar, while the pulp extract may help in body weight reduction and reverse fatty liver disease.

Every 120 gm (or 1 cup) of tamarind pulp provides the following Recommended Daily Intake of nutrients, thus: 34% of vitamin B1, 28% of magnesium, 22% of potassium, and 19% of iron. There’s also considerable amounts of phosphorus, niacin, riboflavin, and calcium. There are also trace amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B5, copper and selenium. However, the fruit may be considered high in calories, with the same one cup containing 287 calories, almost all of which are from sugar. Hence, it may not be the fruit for those who want to lose weight. Nonetheless, tamarind pulp is a fruit, and not to be considered as added sugar.

Tamarind is also a cooking companion. It can be used to make condiments like chutney, or mixed with sugar to make candy, or instead of lemon, use this fruit to add a sour note to savory dishes. Additionally, frozen, unsweetened pulp or sweetened tamarind syrup is always handy in the kitchen.

Taste of Tamarind in Bellevue

Dine healthy at Spice Route in Bellevue and enjoy some of our classics laced with tamarind. Love our kolumbu and karakolumbu vegetarian mains, healthy options with that sweet-sour flavor.

The Revenge of the Vindaloo

An Amazing Journey: Then and Now

Vindaloo is that fiery, hot curry dish out of the southern region of India – Goa. It’s a standard of Goan cuisine that has the Portuguese to thank for; it is not Indian in origin, hence. Vindaloo came from the Portuguese term carne de vinha d’alhos, or ‘meat in garlic wine marinade’. It incorporates meat that is usually pork, marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic.

When explorers from Portugal arrived in India in the 15th century, they brought along the recipe. However, wine-vinegar did not exist in India at the time, so Franciscan priests fermented their own from palm wine. For spice, local ingredients were used – tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom. And of course, chili peppers, imported from the Americas.

When the British came to Indian soil in the latter 18th century, they saw vindaloo already a part of Goan cuisine. They were happy that the Christian Goans, free of religious restrictions, were making the beef and pork dishes that they love. The original Goan vindaloo wasn’t really that spicy, but as it is with other Indian recipes, when the British went back to their country, the dishes had an excess of chiles. However, today in Goa, the old versions of vindaloo can still be found – earthy elegance with just enough spice-sweetness.

Vindaloo one of the few Indian curries that’s traditionally made with pork, Usually, it’s pork belly and shoulder, and also pork leg. Pork leg is traditional, juicy without the belly’s large chunks of fat. Chicken thighs are also popular, as well as lamb shoulders. The British prefer lamb. Marinating the meat in a few hours should do it; more might overcook the proteins. For the curry, starting with the masala mix, chilli is not the principal ingredient. Sweet spices are used – cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, plus black pepper, and the nutty flavours of cumin, coriander and turmeric. Chili is added for color.

The vinegar used is originally wine-vinegar by the Portuguese; then palm vinegar was adapted. Outside of Goa, finding these can be difficult. So sometimes, coconut vinegar will do, or white and malt vinegar, white-wine vinegar, or cider vinegar. Liquid tamarind as another substitute. For vegetables, Indian pink onion, otherwise, yellow. garlic and ginger add to the chutney-like effect. Also, tomatoes, green chillies, or curry leaves. Soft brown sugar to taste.

Tasting the Portuguese Influence in Bellevue

Enjoy an iconic Goan specialty. Our vindaloo variants are some of our popular selections at Spice Route. Have lamb vindaloo or have our take on seafood vindaloo – fish or shrimp. Pair with our other classics.

Indian Food Fun Facts You Didn’t Know

Amazing Details You Have To Know About Indian Food

Westerners are taken by the diversity, the naturalness, the strong definitive flavors of Indian cuisine. To those who think they are familiar with the cuisine might be surprised to find that there are a few details about Indian food that are little known. Let’s look at some.

There are not four, or five, but six different taste sensations recognized by the human tongue. They are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy, and astringent. While spicy is also known as pungent taste, astringent refers to dry and light such as found in legumes, raw fruits and vegetables, and herbs. A proper Indian meal should have a balanced meal containing all six.

A samosa is this delicious fried or baked dish with a savoury filling. It’s a very common Indian dish. Actually, it is not of Indian origin. It was claimed to have come from the Middle East, in what is now known as Iran.

India produces 70 percent of the world’s spices. No country in the world produces as many varieties of spices as India. Other top producers are Bangladesh, Turkey, China, and Pakistan. The southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh tops in spice production as of 2017.

The hottest chili in the world is found in India. The bhut jolokia, also known as the ‘ghost chilli’, grows in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, and is more than 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.

India consumes 50% of the world’s whiskey. Did you know that Indians consumed over 1.5 million litres of whiskey in 2014? In second place was the United States with a consumption of 492 million litres. While that’s not surprising, having almost a billion in population, Indian are still prodigious whiskey drinkers. Per capita basis, the French are heaviest, on 2 liters per person per year, then the Americans at 1.5 liters.

India has the world’s lowest meat consumption per person due to the high prevalence of vegetarianism (the largest in the world) and the limited varieties of meat available; this is owing to their religious beliefs. About 30% of the population eat meat on an occasional basis only.

Chicken tikka masala, the hugely popular Indian curry, is not Indian in origin. It was invented in Glasgow, Scotland by a Pakistani chef when a customer complained that his chicken was dry. So was born the recipe of chunks of succulent chicken doused in a creamy orange curry sauce.

And did you know that London has more Indian restaurants than Mumbai or Delhi? Something like 15,000 restaurants. A wild guess would be like: the chicken tikka masala has long been regarded as the favorite dish of the British.

Remembering South India in December

Festivals and Food from the South

There are many local celebrations happening in southern India in December. Tourists and locals come together in the cooler weather and festive atmosphere in this region. Bookings are sky-high, flights are heavy, and celebrating becomes pretty expensive. Nonetheless, there seems to be no better time to spend extra in hard-to-forget celebrations.

Tamil Nadu in December celebrates the Madras Season of Music and Dance. Everyday, carnatic music, the classic music of south India that dates back 2,500 years, will be played in several concerts all over Chennai City. Also, in Tamil Nadu, a 4-week dance festival, showcasing classical and folk dances will be held in an open-air stage with the magnificent Mamallapuram rock sculptures as backdrop. The Mamallapuram is the renowned and ancient 7th century centre for Pallava culture and art. Both events will run from December to January. Elaborate meals on banana leaves are served, notably are steamed rice, tomato rice, dal, sambar or lentil stew, kara kuzhambu (spicy stew with a coconut base or dal base), rasam (tamarind stew with other herbs and spices), curd, and plenty of vegetables, plus milk base or coconut milk base payasam.

In Goa, there’s the 3-day festival of music and dance and shopping. It’s called the Sunburn Festival. It’s an electronic dance music festival, with international DJs, held every year on the last week of December at Candolim beach of Goa. The festival is regarded as Goa’s best and the ninth best music festival in the world. Focus here is on the food and entertainment. Goan cuisine is mostly seafood-based; Kingfish (vison or visvan) is the most common delicacy. Apart from seafoods, rice, coconut, vegetables, meat, pork and the most intense of spices are some of the main ingredients of Goan food.

At Fort Kochi, in Kerala, the 10-day Cochin Carnival is celebrated at December’s end. There are games and competitions, culminating in a grand parade on the Portuguese New Year’s Day. The parade is the highlight of the carnival, with embellished elephants, costumes, drums, music and partying. On Dec 31, at zero hour, thousands will witness the burning of the massive statue, an effigy of a 35-foot old man named, Pappanji, symbolizing the welcoming of hope and harmony. There are fairs, cultural shows, food festivals, bike and cycle races, rallies, beach football, arts, and so forth to enhance the festive spirit. Kerala cuisine of is mildly flavored and gently cooked, characterized by the use of coconut. Food is a combination of vegetables, meats and seafood flavored with a variety of spices, and cooked mostly in coconut milk.

Celebrating December in Bellevue

We at Spice Route Cuisine celebrate December remembering the delicious and extravagance of South Indian cuisine. Allow us to bring you to the celebrations when you dine with us here in Bellevue.

Paneer: India’s Good Cheese

Vegetarian Delight: Combination Tasty and Healthy

India’s equivalent to cottage cheese is the well-loved paneer. It is an important part of Indian cuisine and Indian culture. It literally means ‘cheese’ in Hindi. The semisolid, cubed form of cottage cheese, the paneer, is popular in north and east India. It takes on the flavor of the spices in which it cooks and adds a rich and creamy flavor to Indian desserts, and also used in curries, Indian kababs and pan-fried Indian flatbread.

Made from milk, paneer is enjoyed in its several forms – as chunks, bhurji (small bits), fried, sautéed, barbecued, grilled, and more. It is an all-around dish that vegetarians love. Its popularity stems from its incredible combination of taste and health.

And what are paneer’s health benefits that even non-vegetarians love? Firstly, paneer is protein-rich. What vegetarians are missing from not eating meat products, they can get from paneer. 100 gm of paneer yields about 18 gm of protein needed for muscle-building and repair. Since paneer is also high in calcium content, it can help build teeth and bones to some extent.

Paneer can bridge those hunger pains being able to provide longer hours of satiety because it is protein. It releases energy slowly, not an instant boost that wanes easily, and not causing blood sugar level spikes.

It is a great source of conjugated linoleic acid – a fatty acid which helps lose weight by enhancing the body’s fat burning process. This is an ideal food choice for those who wish to lose weight.

Paneer is said to have some cancer-fighting capabilities by preventing the growth of cancer-causing cells in the body. It also protects against heart disease by lowering the fat deposition in the arteries.

A few controversial issues surround India’s favorite cheese though. Many believe that paneer is fattening, being high on the calorie meter. Each 100 gm of the cheese is equal to 293 calories. However, paneer is really ideal for people with an active lifestyle, or have an exercise regimen. They tend to burn their calories easily and yet gain the nutrients in their food choices. Nonetheless, moderation is key when enjoying paneer. Additionally, for health reasons, it is better not to fry paneer; best to keep its nutrients intact.

Enjoying Vegetarian in Bellevue

Love our soft and light paneer when you dine at Spice Route Indian Restaurant. We offer quality of dining options via only the freshest, healthy and sustainable ingredients that characterize our menu.

Rice Cakes and Rice Noodles in Bellevue

Cakes and Noodles Out of Rice

India’s staple food – rice – is a pre-eminent crop occupying large parts of the country for its cultivation. Feeding millions since the dawn of civilization and exported to the rest of the world, India’s rice have been cooked and served in a variety of ways. The things they can do with rice is quite amazing. Let’s look at two of their most popular rice variant dishes – the Idly and the Idiyappam.

Idli is a savoury rice cake made by grinding rice, urad dal (skinned black lentils), along with water. The resulting batter is left to ferment overnight before being steamed in an idli steamer. The dish hails from the southern part of India but is popular as breakfast food throughout India and neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka. The cakes can be pillow-soft depending on your fermentation process, batter consistency and ingredients with their ratio, depending on the weather. Traditionally a breakfast item along with chutney and sambar, idlis are also enjoyed as snacks.

The idiyappam is known as String Hoppers in the west, looking like delicate noodles. It is both a traditional Sri Lankan and South Indian food consisting of rice flour pressed into noodle form and then steamed. However, in South India white rice is used; in Sri Lanka both brown rice and white rice are used.

Most parts of South India eat idiyappam at breakfast and must have been so for 2,000 years, some claim. They have different names where you find them; it’s idiyappam in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it’s nool puttu in Coorg and southern Kannada areas of Karnataka, and puttumayam in Malaysia. They are pretty much prepared the same way.

It is made of rice flour, salt and water. The ingredients are mixed in hot water, kneaded into a smooth dough, put into a press to produce the rice strings coming out of perforations and onto banana leaves, or straight into a steamer for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve your idiyappam with coconut gratings and coconut milk, or curry and coconut chutney, or even spicy curry. The noodles will absorb all these flavors, anywhere from breakfast time to dinner.

Vegetarians’ Choice in Bellevue

For breakfast or snacks or even for dinner, love our rice cakes and rice noodles at Spice Route in Bellevue. Either way, it’s a healthy choice and as traditional as traditional can be in southern India.

The Sacred Cows of India

Gentle Giant and Mother to All

Cows have been a fixture in India’s long history. During the Vedic period (1500-500 BCE) in Northern India, the time when the oldest scriptures of Hinduism (Vedas) were composed, the pastoral people then relied on cows for many needs. Cow milk was used for food, cow dung as soil fertilizer and fuel, and together with cow urine were considered also as disinfectants.

According to Hindu scriptures, cow’s milk is considered one of the highest forms of food, called Satvic, with great calming effect and medicinal value. Ghee or clarified butter, which is a milk product from cows, was used in fire worship, one of the highest forms of Hindu worship.

Perhaps ancient Indians ate cow’s meat before when they were first wanderers on the wide grasslands. However, when they settled along the Ganges river and their population started to balloon, they began to suffer from polluted water. They discovered that sickness and death claimed their numbers from contaminated water from their slaughterhouses and their leather industry. Taboos materialized then, otherwise believing that it was unfortunate or bad luck to kill cows. Following that, even the sacrifice of cows to deities for religious purposes was stopped.

The giant, gentle animal stood for all the goodness of the Hindu religion. Its calm and non-threatening nature is said to represent Dharma, the principle of cosmic order. Though Hindus do not worship cows, they are held in high esteem, they are respected or at least tolerated. Some of India’s goddesses take the form of a cow. You see cows undisturbed roaming the streets of India, being thrown vegetables to eat by street vendors.

There are also many institutions in India that take care of old and infirm cows. During festivals, they are beautified and garlanded and given special feedings, or given as gifts. The bond between a cow and its calf is also appreciated and revered; she is honored for her maternal and caretaker image.

Hence, slaughtering cows for their meat or consuming beef is considered sacrilegious for Hindus. Selling beef is banned in many Indian cities, and few Hindus would be ready to even taste cattle meat, for sociocultural reasons.

No-Beef Delicacies in Bellevue

Over at Spice Route, enjoy Southern Indian selections. We serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian, gluten-friendly, spicy and no-spice dishes for your complete dining experience. Certainly explore all our healthy, non-beef offerings.We’re one of the region’s best Indian eating destinations.

Andhra Pradesh: A Journey in Flavors in Bellevue

Rich Heritage and Regional Flavors

Andhra Pradesh is your state bordering the southeastern coast of India with one of the longest coastlines in the country.It is one of India’s beautiful destinations because of its natural freshwater lakes, caves, hill ranges and valleys and some of the largest trees in the world.

Hyderabad is its shared capital which is famous for its rich cultural heritage. And the state’s cuisine? Traditional Andhra Pradesh food is world-famous, inspired by regional flavors and recipes used by the royal courts of old India.

Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of rice in the country and you will find that rice usually comes with many of this place’s vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. The food of Andhra Pradesh is characteristically spicy and tangy, actually one of the spiciest in India. Cooking Andhra dishes uses a lot of red and green chilies, tamarind, coconut and other Indian spices. Actually, even within Andhra Pradesh, different places have different flavors and styles of cooking, but mostly still rich in spices.

Some of the more popular traditional Andhra dishes are Pulihora (tamarind rice), Poppadams or Papadum (dough from black gram flour), Andhra pappu (stew with lentils), Gongura chutney (hibiscus leaves with pacchadi or relish), Pesaratu (crepe-like bread with green gram), Pulusu (curry-like stew), Avakkai pickles made of raw mango, GuttiVankaya Kura (seasoned eggplant), Rasam (soup with tamarind juice), Sambar (lentil-based vegetable chowder), Payasum (sweetened milk with raisins and cashew), and different types of curd dishes. Andhra Pradesh snacks are also famous, like Chekkalu (rice crackers), Guggillu (chickpeas), and the much loved Bondalu, small dough snacks with various ingredients, as black gram.

Mainly vegetarian, Andhra cuisine is also known for its tasty and fresh seafood made of prawns and fish, being a coastal region. There are also favorite swets with their distinct texture and taste, many from pure desi ghee. The capital city of Hyderabad is also known for their slow cooking cuisine. Many dishes, such as the Biryani with Bagharebaigan or mirchkasalan, a meat dish, is world-famous.

Also, a lot of dry fruits garnish Hyderabadi food, balancing its mostly spicy flavors with sweet streaks. If you desire fine dining experience, the capital offers many such eating opportunities. Remember Andhra Pradesh food is a rich amalgamation of regional dishes that gives it the uniqueness and flavors it is known the world over.

A Taste of Andhra Pradesh in Bellevue

Come to Spice Route in Bellevue and indulge in the magic of our Andhra Pradesh cuisine. Experience flavors and experience traditional in Bellevue. It is like going back to the rich heritage of the coastal south of India.