Food that You Actually thought was Indian? Here’s the truth

  There can be nothing so gratifying for the soul as having the traditional food of your country that links you not just to your cultural identity but to the nation’s legendary past as well. Every time the mention of Indian food comes into the picture, we immediately think of those sweet laden gulab jamuns, samosas and chicken tikkas. Hold your breath and listen to this! They are not. While they might have become so inextricably well linked to our cuisine, their origin lies somewhere else. Since the Indian subcontinent was constantly a subject to attacks and influences from the surrounding nations, these delicacies came, saw and made India their home. Today, they are so well meshed with our culture that even a westerner will tell that the samosa that is served in the streets of London, is actually Indian. Even the Wiki pages would tell you that they are Indian! Let us have a look at those Indian delicacies that are actually not Indian:

 

 

There can be nothing so gratifying for the soul as having the traditional food of your country that links you not just to your cultural identity but to the nation’s legendary past as well. Every time the mention of Indian food comes into the picture, we immediately think of those sweet laden gulab jamuns, samosas and chicken tikkas. Hold your breath and listen to this! They are not. While they might have become so inextricably well linked to our cuisine, their origin lies somewhere else. Since the Indian subcontinent was constantly a subject to attacks and influences from the surrounding nations, these delicacies came, saw and made India their home. Today, they are so well meshed with our culture that even a westerner will tell that the samosa that is served in the streets of London, is actually Indian. Even the Wiki pages would tell you that they are Indian! Let us have a look at those Indian delicacies that are actually not Indian:

1. Gulab Jamun

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Belief: The Traditional Indian Sweet delight

Country of Origin: Persia

Most of us would get offended for this! Those sweet dumplings filled with cardamom, saffron and sugar syrup are actually Persian. Even the name that is ascribed to this sweet has its origins in Persian language: 'gol' (flower) and 'ab' (water). The actual Persian preparation was called as 'luqmat al qadi' which was prepared by soaking the khoya balls in honey syrup and then having them drizzled with sugar. So while they are enjoyed during the most quintessential Indian festivals such as Diwali, Gulab jamuns are actually a native of another nation!

2. Daal Bhat

Image Source: wallpaperup.com

Belief: the simple and satisfying pan Indian meal

Country of Origin: Nepal

While all of us might have relished the simplest Indian meal throughout our lives, Daal bhaat is in reality a Nepali dish. Today, the lentils and rice cooked together or separately might be well absorbed in all the states of India, it is Nepal that holds a real credit to this meal. Sigh!

3. Rajma

Image Source: Ankur Gulati/Flickr

Belief:  the most popular and delectable North Indian Dish

Origin: Mexico

The North Indians are going to sue me for this! And why not, Rajma chawal is one thing that the whole of North India prides on. The kidney bean was actually introduced to India from Portugal and it’s the Mexicans who should be credited for soaking and boiling beans. However, this is not to say that Indians did nothing to add to this dish. They added thick rajma gravy prepared with chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes and other spices for that desi touch!

4. Samosa

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Belief: The Hot Potato filled crunchy snacks for those cold and rainy Indian evenings

Origin: Middle East

Come to think of it! Delhi literally survives on samosas. Those hot aloo filled samosas act as ambrosia on rainy and cold evenings. However, very few of us would know that samosas had actually originated in the Middle East before the 10th century. Originally called as a 'sambosa', they were introduced to Indians by traders from Central Asia circa 14th century. My all sympathies go for Delhites!

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5. Chicken Tikka Masala

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Belief: the quintessential Punjabi non veg dish

Origin: Glasgow

They say if you have to please a Punjabi, serve him Chicken tikka masala! But do you know that this dish was prepared for the first time in Glasgow, UK? It was actually an improvisation of the dry chicken prepared on the request of a customer by the chef Ali Ahmed in Glasgow in the year 1971. But whatever he did, he should be credited for making generations after him falling in love with this novel cuisine!

 

6. Filter Coffee

Image Source: pixabay.com

Belief: A sip of Filter Coffee and you reach the streets of South India

Origin: Yemen

While 99.9 percent of Indians link Filter "kaaphi” to South India especially Chennai, this benign sleep jerking drink is actually of Yemen origins. A definite must for a South Indian breakfast today, Filter Coffee is believed to have been introduced to India by Sufi saint Baba Budan who discovered it while on a pilgrimage to Mecca. In order to show its taste, the saint carried along seven coffee beans from Mocha, Yemen to India. Subsequently it became a popular supplement for liquor through the famous Indian coffee houses during mid-1940s. 

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7. Vindaloo

Image Source: stu_spivack/Flickr

Belief: the typical meat curry of Goa

Origin: Portugal

Somehow I am not surprised to know this, given the long history of Portuguese presence in Goa. Every Goan home prepares Vindaloo, the meat curry especially during the festivals such as Easter. The name of Vindaloo has Portuguese origins from 'carne de vinha d'alhos', a Portuguese meat dish of pork marinated in wine and garlic. When Vindaloo was coopted in Goa, it came to be prepared with palm vinegar in place of red wine and a dash of Kashmir chillies.

8. Jalebi

Image Source: pixabay.com

Belief: From North to South, Jalebi is the best dessert

Origin: Middle East

Our sweet thin jalebi is actually Middle Eastern. Originally called as 'zalabiya' (Arabic)or the 'zalibiya' (Persian), this now thought of Indian dessert is in reality borrowed but merged well with our world. How I really cry to part with this one!

9. Naan

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Belief:  Indian Naan to make your curry go tastier

Origin: Persia

Who wouldn’t want to make Indian curry dish go tastier with naan? But in reality, this famous Indian bread was introduced to India by the Persians who colonized the nation. Today we might think of keema to paneer naan as thoroughly Indian but then it is a gift to us by the Mughal reign.

10. Biryani

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Belief: The Hyderabadi biryani for a royal palate

Origin: Persia

This one would come across as an ultimate blow! The lovers of Biryani would be left speechless to know that biryani has its origins in Persia rather than India. The dish has its roots in the Persian word ‘birian’ which means ‘fried before cooking’. Come to think of it, we would not have no interesting cuisine if Persia would not have gifted us so much!

Whatever might be the origins of these dishes, one thing is for sure that they have been coopted so well and modified to such an extent that they have become quintessentially Indian.  "Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani”!

You may also like to read:

Breaking the Myth- South Indian Food is definitely much more than Idli Dosa!

12 Thalis That Will Get You Smacking Your Lips and Licking Your Fingers!

Top 10 Jumbo Kitchens in India That Offer Finger Licking Free Food  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
NEHA KAPOOR NEHA KAPOOR

A lover of literature, Neha wants to understand world through the prism of books. Nuances of words, spoken or written, entice her to delve into the human psyche. A voracious reader of Partition and feminist literature, she desires to deconstruct and unlearn the congealed forms of knowledge system.

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