As a land that has experienced extensive immigration and intermingling through many millennia, India's cuisine has benefited from numerous food influences. The diverse climate in the region has also helped considerably broaden the set of ingredients readily available to the many schools of cookery in India. In the North of India, Nepal and Pakistan against the slopes of the Himalaya vegetables like spinaches and cabbage are agricultured.

The staples of Indian cuisine are rice, atta (whole wheat flour), and a variety of pulses, the most important of which are masoor (most often red lentil), chana (bengal gram), toor (pigeon pea or yellow gram), urad (black gram) and mung (green gram). Pulses are used extensively in the form of dal (split).
Some of the pulses like chana and "Mung" are also processed into flour (besan).

Popular spice mixes are garam masala which is usually a powder of five or more dried spices, commonly including cardamom, cinnamon, and clove. Each region has a distinctive blend of Garam Masala. The term "curry" is usually understood to mean "gravy" in India, rather than "spices."

Although a number of religions exist in India, the two cultures that have influenced Indian cooking and food habits are the Hindu and the Muslim traditions. The Portuguese, the Persians and the British made also important contributions to the Indian culinary scene. The Hindu vegetarian tradition is widespread in India, although many Hindus eat meat now. The Muslim tradition is most evident in the cooking of meats.

In Hinduism three modes of food are known.
These Modes are:

  • Goodness.
  • Passion.
  • Darkness.

Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify ones existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.

Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.

Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, food that is tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants and untouchable things is dear to those in the mode of darkness.