Food defines people, it’s a measure of richness of a culture. India is a fascinating food land; the variety of its cuisine is astounding. Food of our land is not static, it has been evolving over centuries.
The change in the food habits of Indians In the last 15 years overwhelms the changes that happened over centuries. For centuries, we ate Aryan Food. Sita’s Rasoi is an important concept in Ramayana. Have you ever wondered what kind of food she fed Ram? In the epic of Mahabharata, Bheem was a cook for a year when in hiding – have you ever wondered what his favorite food was? Ancient Vedic texts, Chakra Samhita and Bhavaprakasha refer to the importance of healthy eating and natural ingredients as medicines.
Then came the Muslim invasion, which brought Arabic influences into mainstream Indian cuisine. Our taste buds expanded and a new fusion of Indian and Arabic food led to exotic creations like Butter Chicken, Naan, and Biryani. These dishes today define Indian food.
The British introduced Indians to the western influence. They give us our own Mulligatawny soup and we gave them Chicken Tikka Masala, now the national dish of the UK.
After World War II, Americanization of food happened across the world. Burgers and Pizzas corrupted our taste buds too like they did across the world – for example, McDonald’s and Domino’s are now mega global brands.
The Oriental Invasion: While Chinese food is now mainstream in India, the early influencers were Tibetan refugees in the sixties who gave us momos, and spicy noodles. Over the three decades, Indians adopted Chinese food as our own and even created popular variations like Gujarati Chinese and Chinese Dosas. These new food types show the true assimilative power of Indian palate and culture. What happened with Chinese in the nineties, is now happening with Thai, Korean and Japanese cuisines.
As we enter the 21st century, there has been a massive food revolution in India. The number and the variety of restaurants have multiplied multi-fold. Not only are more and more Indians now eating out, they are also ordering food home. This has led to a massive expansion of taste buds of millions of Indians.
Nowadays, ‘modern Indian’ is the new buzz-word in the food circles. What’s that and where would it take us?
Hanuman chai, Dhrupudi Ice Tea and Shiva Shots…more on that in my next blog!
featured photo courtesy: hdwallpapersinn.com