A Vegetarian's Paradise
Because many Indian religious practices limit or forbid the eating of meat, Indian cuisine abounds with vegetable and lentil dishes, along with rice and delicious yogurt- or cream-based sauces--attractive choices for vegetarians or those just looking to eat less meat.
For centuries, India enticed spice-hungry traders. As foreigners took away spices, they also contributed to India's cuisine. The Chinese brought rice and the wok; the Portuguese introduced vinegar, tomatoes, potatoes, and chilies. Persian, Mongolian and Indonesian influences were also significant.
India boasts many diverse regional cuisines, but we can generalize broadly by identifying distinct cooking styles between north and south. The north is characterized by more meat dishes and tandoori cooking. Southern dishes tend to be spicier and moist, featuring stews, rice, lentils and Indonesian influences.