In order to understand the origin of Indian cuisine and its evolution, one must realize that India can be considered anything but homogenous. India is a country of diversity and so is its cuisine.
Indian cuisine is the world’s most diverse cuisine. It’s a combination of diverse ingredients. Its Complexity and subtleness lie within Indian spices. Different cultures in different geographical locations have diverse cuisine throughout the nation. Therefore, every region varies in the techniques of cooking. Hence, the Specialty in food in every corner of India is different and diversified.
Origin on Indian Cuisine
Indian cuisine is as easy as studying thermodynamics. The origin of Indian cuisine dates back to about 10000 years. A large multitude of settlers who came and settled in India molded the Indian Cuisine.
When most of the land is covered with dense forest, hunting and edible products of forest were the only options to fill the stomach. As a result, the normal diet consisted only of fruits and vegetables, grain, honey, dairy products, and meat.
The history of Indian cuisine has its roots in the Indus valley civilization. In 7000 BCE, agriculture moved from Fertile Crescent to Indus Valley. In that same era, the cultivation of wheat and barley started. As a result, Indian Households started domesticating sesame and humped cattle. By 3500 BCE, the cultivation of turmeric, black pepper, mustard, and cardamom started in India. The evidence of exports and imports was found in 2350 BCE.
Ancient Holy Hindu Book, Mahabharata mentioned the word ‘pulao’. Pulao is a combination of rice and vegetables, cooked together with a blend of spices. In the initial Vedic period, many new recipes came into existence.
According to Ayurveda, the type of food that goes inside you has a powerful impact on your mind. Therefore, a famous saying claims that you become what you eat. The food classification system was developed in the Vedic period. Consequently, it categorized every food item into:
- Saatvik (pure),
- Rajasik (active and passionate) or,
- Tamasik (toxic and heavy).
Evolution of Indian Cuisine
India had been through some foreign invasion throughout its history. Therefore, Foreign influences are visible in the evolution of Indian cuisine too. Immigration and intermingling impacted Indian culture. Hence, influenced Indian cuisine to an extreme extent.
Historically, the aromatic herbs and spices of Indian origin are the most sought by foreign traders, above all trade commodities.
The blend of Persian, Mongols, Britishers, Duchess and Portuguese tastes comes across in cultural and dietary aspects of India. Arabs and Portuguese traders introduced new world food items like chili peppers and squash. Indian Cuisine got a touch of European cooking techniques in colonial times.
Hindu and Muslims have dominated the influence of Indian cuisine. With Hindus, Vegetarian culture is widely spread. With Muslims, it’s more of cooking meat. However, the Islamic invasion and conquest introduced new types of fruits like melon, peaches, apricots, and plums.
Mughal cuisine presented a new way of cooking technique. They brought the lavish dishes during Shah Jahan’s reign. The technique of cooking dishes in a clay oven or tandoor is one of the best contributions of Mughals in the food arena. Most importantly, the smoky taste enters the food and makes it creamy.
The blending of cooking techniques of Mughals and Telangana cuisines took place in the kitchen of the historical ruler of Hyderabad, Nizam. As a result, this mix resulted into the birth of Hyderabadi Biryani, a traditional celebration dish.
Other influences over Indian Cuisine
Climate plays an important role in determining Indian cuisine. Therefore, the diversified climate conditions gave birth to different types of cuisines in India from tropical to alpine. The diversification of climate had enlarged the possibilities of different ingredients.
The evolution of Indian cuisine is influenced by its religious beliefs and culture through time. The ancient belief of Hindu scriptures forbids the killing of living beings. It condemned the violent actions and relates it to negative karma consequences. Consequently, Vegetarianism is widely practiced in India. This practice of vegetarianism deeply impacted Buddhism.
As a result, vegetarianism has been a long-lasting and longstanding tradition. One-third of the Indian population follows vegetarianism. The number is about to rise as the influence of veganism is spreading rapidly in India.
Indian Cuisine influence over foreign lands
Indian Cuisine has not only been influenced by foreign forces but has also influenced the world’s cuisine. The most influenced region by Indian cuisine is South East Asia. Indian cuisine influenced Thai cuisine. Thai people learned the use of spices from Indians. Indians also influenced Filipino cuisine.
Therefore, Indian food in foreign lands is not only the love of the Indian diaspora. But also enjoyed by the general population of some parts of Africa, America, Canada, Australia, and Europe.
Insight of some Indian Cuisine
In South India, the cuisine is highly rich in rice and coconut with a side soup called rasam. Dishes made with fermented rice are extremely popular in South Indian cuisines. Dosa and Idli are not only famous in South India but throughout the nation.
There has always been a misperception about the origin of naan bread. Naan is considered indigenously Indian. In fact, it is the everyday bread of Afghani people.
Tea is the most consumed beverage before, while, or after meals. The meal has always been accompanied by a beverage to drink. Some famous Indian drinks are lassi, lemonade, buttermilk, and Indian beer.
Desserts are worth everything after a delicious meal. The variety of desserts is as diverse as India itself. Hence, Indian cuisine has an elaborate list of desserts starting with rasgullas, gulab jamuns, halwa, and kulfi ice cream.
From north to south, Indian cuisine is diversified with every 100 miles one travels. From east to west, Indian cuisine seems united but its flavors seem to have no bound.
The origin of Indian cuisine started with the discoveries of spices and grains. The growth of agriculture has been directly proportional to the origin of Indian cuisine and its evolution. From as simple as pulao to as difficult as Biryani. The evolution of Indian cuisine has been a journey of roller coaster ride that keeps going up. Influenced by internal urges and external factors, Indian cuisine has been diversified over the course of time.
Fire n ice is an Indian restaurant in Yangon, Myanmar that serves delicious Indian food.