Like the United States, India is a large country with regional variations in the types of food prepared. However there are characteristics common to most Indian food.
Each region of India has different weather and different access to particular types of food. For example, people living in coastal regions eat a lot of seafood as opposed to those living inland. Some regions of India are dry, and the people living in these areas tend to eat preserved vegetables because their own vegetables are scarce. In contrast, there are regions where fruit is plentiful, and people in these areas tend to eat a lot of fruit. Culture in these regions also affects food; in some regions the preferred starch is bread, while in others, it is rice. Further, religious beliefs influence what people eat. Hindu people tend not to eat beef, Muslims do not eat pork, and Jains eat no meat. Despite the regional differences, there are some aspects of food that are common across the country. For example, many spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and cloves grow well in India, and across the country these spices are used abundantly in food. Indian food, therefore, has generally a complex flavor and aroma because of the mix of spices used. These spices have influenced the world significantly; the North American and South American continents were discovered because Christopher Columbus was looking for a new way to get to India in order to buy spices.