We'd like to begin with a short note about hot food and spicy food. Contrary to popular belief, Indian cuisine is not meant to be hot. There are a great variety of herbs and spices used in Indian cooking. These may add flavor, aid digestion, have medicinal properties, or just bring color to the food (usually it's a combination of a few qualities).
The types and flavors of herbs and spices vary as you travel from one place to another within India. Just as anywhere else, there are people that cook and eat really hot food; however, almost all Indian restaurants will ask for your preference while taking your order. If they forget to ask you, please do let your waiter know.
Food in India is wide ranging in variety, taste and flavor. The unique and strong flavors in Indian cuisine are derived from spices, seasonings and nutritious ingredients such as leafy vegetables, grains, fruits and legumes. Geographical location further influences the style of preparation and type of cuisine in a State.
Indian cuisine, you will discover, has six distinctive tastes - sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent. A well balanced Indian meal achieves this through the use of numerous spice combinations and depth of flavor in Indian recipes. Side dishes and condiments like chutneys, curries, lentils and pickles enhance the overall flavor and texture of a meal and provide the balance required.