Cuisine differs across India's diverse regions as a result of variation in local culture, geographical location (proximity to sea, desert, or mountains) and economics. It also varies seasonally, depending on which fruits and vegetables are ripe. Regional cuisines use locally available spices, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Indian food is also heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices. The cuisine of India is characterized by the widespread practice of vegetarianism across many sections of its society.
Most Indian cuisines are related by similiar usage of spices. Often, Indian cooking is distinguished by the use of a larger variety of vegetables than many other well-known cuisines. All coastal kitchens make strong use of fish and coconuts. The desert cuisines use an immense variety of dals and achars (preserves) to substitute for the relative lack of fresh vegetables. All along the northern plain a variety of flours are used to make chapatis and other closely related breads. In the rain-swept regions a large variety of rices are used. Potatoes are not used as the staple carbohydrate in any part of India.