Indian dishes vary according to region, but some common staples include rice, whole-wheat flour, pearl millet, lentils, pigeon peas, chickpeas, mung beans and kidney beans. Chicken and mutton are the most-popular meats, although lamb, fish and beef are often consumed in some regions.
India is known for strongly seasoned curry dishes. Seasonings typically used in Indian food include chili pepper, cardamom, turmeric, paprika, ginger, black mustard seed, coriander, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, clove, saffron and nutmeg. Various culinary regions of India have their own spice blends called garam masala. Many individual chefs have their own custom version of garam masala as well.
Some common curry combinations include potato with either peas, chickpeas, cauliflower, methi leaves or spinach, eggplant with tomatoes or onions, cottage cheese cubes with spinach and assorted lentils. Meat curries often contain chicken, goat, lamb or fish. Curries are typically served with basmati rice and a leavened, oven-baked flatbread called naan.
In East India, many dishes are mustard- and fish-based. Common ingredients in North India include milk, yogurt, ghee, saffron, chillies and cottage cheese. Southern culinary food often uses coconut and coconut oil, as well as tamarind and pepper. West Indian cuisine tends to be a fusion of all Indian food styles. Most Indian meals consist of multiple courses, including accompaniments such as chutneys, pickles and finger foods such as pakoras and samosas.