Ah Indian food! Our ultimate source of comfort, be it a bowl of dal-chawal or puchka from the street. But just as India is a land of many cultures, Indian food as we know it today is a blend of many influences, drawn from the rich and diverse history of the nation. On this Independence Day eve, let’s take a look at some interesting facts about Indian food:
- Many now staple ingredients of Indian cuisine like humble potato and tomato do not have Indian origins. They were bought to India by the Portuguese. Not only this, the Portuguese also introduced us to refined sugar. Before that fruits and honey were used as sweeteners – much healthier if you ask us!
- According to the Indian food theory, our food has 6 different flavours- sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy. A proper Indian meal is said to have a balance of all these flavours with one or two standing out.
- Love eating samosa? Here’s a shocker for you – samosa existed as ‘sambosa’ in the Middle East much before the 13th/14th century when it came to India.
- India is the land of rice that grows an unbelievable number of variants – white, red, brown, sticky and even black. Black rice is also known as Magic rice and is popular in Manipur.
- India is the largest producer of spices in the world (though this is hardly a surprise!). 70% of the worlds spices come from India.
- Everyone’s favourite chicken tikka masala as we now know it, was actually ‘invented’ in the UK. The British tamed down the spices in more traditional Indian curries and added cream to come up with the now-famous, rich, delicious preparation.
- The first Indian restaurant is said to have opened in London in 1809. There are now more than 9000 Indian restaurants and curry houses across the UK! In fact, there are now more Indian restaurants in London than Mumbai!
- Greek, Roman and Arab traders have contributed a lot to the first foreign flavours in the Indian cuisine. Who did you think bought the amazing saffron to India?
- Wikipedia lists nearly 200 types of Indian desserts!
- Rajma originally belongs to Mexico and is a staple there.
- West Bengal is the hub of Bandel cheese production. It is an Indian variety of cheese which is said to have been inspired by Portuguese.
- India is home to ‘bhot jolokia’ one of the hottest chillies in the world also called ‘ghost chilli’. It is grown in the North East states and is more than 400 times hotter than Tabasco Sauce.
- India has the lowest meat consumption in the world per person, which does not come as a shocker since 40% of the population is vegetarian.
- Naan is most often associated with Indian cuisine. However, it is said to have been brought to India by the Mughals and it has Persian roots.
- Who doesn’t like chutneys? Indian food is incomplete without this delicious side dish. But do you know the Britishers loved our chutneys as much as we do? In fact, they named one of the chutneys as ‘Major Grey’s’ and it is still sold in India.
Wishing you all a Happy Independence Day from the Foodstree team. We hope you liked this glimpse of the amazing, diverse culture we live in – truly ‘Mera Bharat Mahan!’.