India, as a country has an immense amalgamation on food, and seeing the size of our country, that explains why. A colossal blend of different cultures makes up our cuisine. To the outside world, Indian cuisine is all about spices and curries, but as we know, it is so much more than that. This article will be a brief dive into the Indian culinary history and what key ingredients has been a part of our cuisine for thousands of years and are still very much a key part of it.
A really surprising thing about this topic is that not much has been documented about the history of Indian food as compared to the other cuisines around the world. A major part of this was because there was a lack of translation from the language. A lot of work went into translating from Sanskrit and which is why there was never an abundance of information about this particular topic. But things are changing now as more and more translators are coming forth and making our culinary history known to the world.
The traces of spices used in cuisines dates back to 2500 BC where traces of turmeric and garlic were found in the Indus Valley civilization. One of the key vegetables which have been seen and used in all of Indian history was the eggplant, and that can be because it was available and grown in abundance, but also because its ability to absorb the spices it was cooked with. Back then, things were extremely sophisticated and our country had trade with many regions like the Middle East, Africa. Recently, archeologists have found an excavation site 60 miles from Delhi and now they are looking into the analysis of residues from cooking pots. India has always been a part of a global economy, which is why there has also been a lot of foreign influence on our cuisine in certain parts of our nation. Because of the amount of trade that went on, there were always traders from China, Africa bringing ingredients in and taking some out of the country. A huge factor was the climate of country which is a reason for people eating only what they could grow in their own state. That is because up until recently, the transportation wasn’t the best and so, the cuisines remained distinct to the place. The Portuguese had an immense influence on India as they were ruling here for 100 years or so, and there was a great exchange of fruits and vegetables in the Old and New World during this time, mostly potatoes, tomatoes, chilies and pineapples. These inseparable parts of the Indian cuisine were brought in by the Portuguese, and in exchange, we offered the world the mango and a few other fruits. As for Britain, we influenced their cuisine more than they did ours as the Indian cuisine quickly became extremely popular there and loved by all. It took no time for this to become the most popular fast food in Britain.
This was my short take on the history of food in India. I learnt some new things which I found really interesting and did not know prior to researching for this article. I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing. Do let me us know if you did. Also let us know if you want a part 2 of this topic and I will write it!
- Kinjal Dixit