Food has a quality to make a crying man happy. We, the people of India have always upheld the motto of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ meaning guests are like God; we embrace all! Be it people or food. Our culture has adopted and amalgamated many food items which now are on our staple Indian diet menu. As surprising as it sounds our favorite food members like ‘Samosa’ and its filling ‘Potato,’ ‘Rajma,’ ‘Tomato’ are not born nationals of India. These traveled to India and have made their prominent place now.The first guest of honor who gets its place in every festival is
These golden bites of heaven are originally from Persia! Made from rich khoya balls fried until they are reddish brown then dipped in sugar syrup which gives it the glaze. It is believed that Gulab Jamun was brought to India by Central Asian Turkic invaders. Another theory claims that Shah Jahan’s chef accidently prepared these. The name comes from the Persian word ‘Gulab’ where ‘Gol’ means flower, ‘ab’ means water or rose water for that matter, ‘Jamun’ is a Hindu Urdu word for a fruit about the same size of the sweet.
This dessert is an all-time favorite in marriages, parties or any occasion to satisfy your sweet tooth. In fact, different versions to it have been developed like Kesar syrup dipped, ‘Kala Jaam’ which is a more caramelized version of Gulab Jamun. These are a great hit as they can be prepared in bulk and loved by all in India and its sub-continents.
Another sweet which does not wait for a festival but is eaten by Indians during daily breakfast combinations with ‘samosas’ or just like that. As shocking as it may sound, YES folks Jalebi too is not an Indian origin. The crispy fried tangled tingling sweet dipped in pure sugar coated love is originally brought to India by our Persian friends again. It is originally from the Middle East where it is known as ‘Zilabia’ in Arabic or ‘Zilabiya’ in Persian.
Kulfi and Falooda
These frozen, super-creamy delights with a little dash of nuts, ‘kulfi’ are a gift to India by the Mughals. Falooda, a traditional ice cream Sunday which has the ultimate dessert combination of kulfi topped with thick red rose syrup with few strands of vermicelli and jelly to top it all, is also of the same origin as kulfi.
The God of sweet, we love it! Girls, boys, old, and young, we love it in all shapes; cakes or bars, hot or cold, melted or solid, sculpture or fountain! This sweet thing originated in Mesoamerica, and the cocoa seeds are believed to be a gift from the God of wisdom. Cultivation of cocoa started in southern India where it reached around late 1700s.Despite the collapse of British rule in India ‘Cadbury’ began production around the time of partition to give us these amazing chocolates for every occasion.
Tea is from China. This drink is a start and finish of the day for almost every Indian. Tea was a medicinal drink for the Chinese brought in India by the British. For all the tea lovers who are heartbroken from this fact, don’t worry we made it taste better with making about over hundred variations of it. Kesar chai, Malai chai, Rabdi chai, cutting chai are all Indian contributions to the world.
One of the smooth drinks for a cozy comfort feeling has made its way to our hearts from Ethiopia. The much-relished beverage served hot or cold has a strange history. It is said that an Indian Sufi saint Baba Budan, who had gone for a pilgrimage to Mecca while returning found this sweet dark liquid ‘Qahwa.’ He loved it so much that he brought back seven coffee beans strapped to his chest (to hide it from the overprotective Arabs) from Mocha.
Ever imagined how would life be without aloo puri on, aloo paratha, aloo tikki, finger chips, potato chips. I wouldn’t’t! Potato also lists amongst the food items which were not known to our ancestors and this root vegetable did not have its roots in India, it was introduced to India by the Portuguese in the early seventeenth century. They hail from the Andes mountain valley.
Yes, the star of every Indian curry ‘tomato’ originated in central and South America and brought to India by the Portuguese. Tomatoes are also commonly mistaken as a vegetable but are a fruit.
Other vegetables like corn which is ‘bhutta’ and chilly from Mexico, cauliflower from North East Mediterranean, are also contributions to Indian cuisine.
Coming to the category of full meals which have over the years developed their place in our taste buds.
Yes, these golden and crisp samosas which we dip in tamarind chutneys and devour our way out be it morning or evening are not originally an Indian recipe. Samosas came to India with our friends from the Middle East who made it with a filling of meat and not potato. Potato found its way inside samosa when the public who could not afford meat wanted to taste the luxury of having a Samosa.
Kidney beans; the favorite curry of North India especially Kashmir and Delhi where the combination of Rajma-chawal never grows old, was primarily a Mexican dish. Now we can find Rajma curry being sold even on wheel karts.
Chicken Tilkka Masala11
Is from Glasgow! This creamy curry with marinated chunks of chicken is an improvisation of a chef Ali Ahmed who worked in a restaurant Shish Mahal in Glasgow. It would be hard for some of us to believe since we find this mouthwatering spicy dish in restaurants and street food centers.
This Chinese dish travelled to India and made its place amongst our favorite starters. It is good for both taste buds and purse. Its mates like Chilly Chicken, Chilly Paneer, Schezwan fried rice were painted with the colors of Indian spices to get a whole line of cuisine informally called “Chindian.”
These simple little dumplings with the hot chili sauce are turning into a big hit on the streets. Momos trace their origin in Tibetan /Nepalese community. Momos on the streets of Delhi or the elite restaurants have made slow but steady prominence. Every student hub does have Momos on their menu, where these steamed Momos come with a sprinkle of spices and red hot chutney. They are even improvised into versions like tandoori Momos, fried Momos, Afghani Momos (which are tandoori Momos tossed in a creamy sauce) and as many as one can imagine.
Flaky, layered, chewy, buttery flatbreads ‘Naans’ are an origin of Persia as well. The beauty of Indian cuisine is that we adopt and blend. Naans are a perfect company to any curry and hold its own fan base. Some even claim that naan was a result of an experiment with yeast which was brought from Egypt.
Biryani is a word of Persian origin ‘Birian’ meaning fried before cooking. Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite queen of Shah Jahan, does not only contributes to great stories but also to Indian cuisine. It was her who once on a visit to the army barracks saw her soldiers mal-nourished and ordered the chef to prepare a meal which was whole, thus came this super one pot meal Biryani in India.
The Mughals did not stop there; they also gave us the bliss of KEBABS. The kebabs originated during the medieval era in Turkey. These minced meat kebabs which sizzles on the roads and marriage food stands are a delicacy crafted by ‘them’, who seem very own now, the Mughals. Kebabs have melted their way from our mouths to our hearts. We now also host several vegetable kebabs like green Pea kebab, Dahi kebab and mixed kebab.
Paneer to our surprise is not Indian either; It was discovered by the Mongolian adventurers who were carrying milk in their leather pouches which accidently turned into Paneer. In subsequent years the Mughals again got us this delicious, delicate, creamy milk product to give us a variety from butter paneer, paneer tikka to paneer chilly.
The mother of all food in India, the typical ‘Ma ke haath ka khana’ is a combination from Nepal. Though unbelievable, but this fabulous duo which has become the staple diet combination of a huge number of Indians is a gift from our neighbours.
Our favorite two minute ‘mummy ka magic’ Maggi comes from Switzerland. Having all those recipes with Maggi, we almost forgot the fact that those long wavy noodles are a product from ‘Julius Maggi.’ We eat it in many ways; I personally enjoy it crushed raw with just the right amount of water to get the masala stick on the noodles. This is a dish which every Indian has adopted; from the all swadeshi Babaji to office workers. A quick mid-night food or for any time meal this dish is in every college street, hill station markets as ‘Maggi points’ which attracts the crowd. It is the best support of a bachelor house and great tiffin snack.
An ingredient which comes in the category of delicacy and is added in almost every Indian sweet dish is believed to be originally from Greece, Turkey, Iran and Central Asia. This fresh and essence of purity was first cultivated in Spain and traveled to Indian Kashmir valley from China via Persians.
For all the food lovers who are sighing as our family food members were, in fact, our cousins, do not get disappointed; because hunger and craving for food is felt within our boundary as well as outside these lines. All great inventions are made when hungry, and the taste of life is same everywhere.
Food fills our hearts, and that is food for thought!