While many of these staple elements from daily household Indian kitchens form a base for a number of recipes that we proudly boast of and enjoy; history suggests these ingredients and elements of the Indian cuisine are not actually Indian. Yes, they took their route to India with traders, rulers and invaders who travelled to the country. India did what it does the best, embraced them and made them its own. So much so that most of us think these ingredients have belonged to the land since forever. By Kumar Shree
1. Sorghum, Coffee, Cowpeas
2. Garlic, Apple
Central Asia takes credit for giving India the gift of garlic and apples, both of which form an important part of the Indian diet. While an apple a day is known to keep the doctor away, garlic is also known for its medicinal properties apart from being one of the essential ingredients of Indian curries.
3. Chilli, Maize, Beans, Papaya, Palm Oil
Chilli, that is now an essential element and flavour of the Indian kitchen was originally brought here by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Not only chilli, but maize, beans, papaya, and palm oil, all of these Indian kitchen essentials find their root in Central America.
4. Cabbage, Orange, Soybean
East Asia has contributed vegetables and fruits like cabbage, soybean, and orange to the Indian diet.
5. Rapeseed, Mustard
If rapeseed and mustard are the things that you cannot enjoy your meal without, you’ve got to thank the Mediterranean region that has gifted these ingredients to India.
6. Banana, Coconut
Fans of Banoffee pie and Coconut Laddu, you might want to thank the region of South East Asia for contributing banana and coconut to the Indian diet.
7. Potato, Tomato, Pumpkin
Potato, tomato and pumpkin that are cooked almost daily in Indian kitchens trace their roots back to South America. I know, even we cannot believe that, but that’s what’s true.
8. Wheat, Onion, Peas, Carrots, Spinach, Grapes
Can you imagine, wheat, which forms the backbone of the Indian diet, even that is not indigenous to the country! Not only wheat, but onion, peas, carrots, spinach, and grapes — all of these have come to India from West Asia.
9. Kidney Beans (Rajma), Dal-Chawal, Samosa, Gulab Jamun, Jalebi
Rajma reached India tracing its ways through Central Mexico and Guatemala. Dal-Chawal finds its roots in Nepal. Middle East takes credit for introducing Samosa to India. Gulab Jamun, known as luqmat al qadi in its country of origin was brought here from Persia. Jalebi, referred to as zalabiya in Arabic or the zalibiya in Persian reached India with the Persian invaders.
10. Chai, Naan, Filter Coffee
Chai, yes, our very own Indian chai is not actually Indian but it originated in China. Naan traces its roots back to the Persian cuisine and was brought to India during the Mughal era. Even the filter coffee was brought (read smuggled) to India by Baba Budan when he was on his pilgrimage to Mecca.