The cooking of India is characterized by its sophisticated and subtle use of many spices and herbs. Considered by some to be one of the world's most diverse cuisines, each family of this cuisine is characterized by a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques.
Food is an important part of Indian culture, playing a role in everyday life as well as in festivals. In many families, everyday meals are usually sit-down affairs consisting of two to three main course dishes consisting of rice, roti and dal, along with varied accompaniments such as chutneys and pickles, as well as curds.
Diversity is a defining feature of India's geography, culture, and food. Indian cuisine varies from region to region, reflecting the varied demographics of the ethnically diverse subcontinent. Cuisine across India has also been influenced by various cultural groups that entered India throughout history, from regions as diverse as West Asia, Central Asia and Europe. Generally, Indian cuisine can be split into four categories: North Indian, South Indian, East Indian, and West Indian. Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge in the art of Indian cuisine. Varied uses of spices are an integral part of food preparation, and are used to enhance the flavor of a dish and create unique flavors and aromas.