Like any art form, the foundation of Indian cooking is based on technique. There is a body of knowledge about the food itself - the vegetables, the spices, the herbs, the sauces - but this information is meaningless unless applied with sensitivity.
There's a perfect moment to eat a certain dish, just as there's an appropriate time for an Indian raga to be played. There are monsoon ragas, morning ragas, and ragas that are played when the lover has gone. Music and food are always respected for their ability to cleanse the soul, and heal.
Indian cooking has always found a willing companion in art and music. They always seem to go together. Any musical gathering first begins with prayers to the gods and offering of food to them. Just as emotions are a part of music so are they a part of cooking. Thus in India one finds that to evolve ones palate one also studies the appreciation of music and art. In the Indian kitchen one entertains spices or masalas
Spice blends are called masalas.
Indian cooks have mastered the timed roast of spices, releasing various flavors from the same spice based on its length of roasting. A spice is also manipulated by the way it is prepared. Each of the many spices has its own unique function: some spices tenderize, some intensify heat while others cool, some augment color, some thicken and others bring necessary tartness.
Despite all the difference in culinary styles there is one unifying feature of Indian cooking: the endless possibilities for spice and flavor combinations