For the soul, there can be nothing so gratifying as having your country’s traditional food that ties you not only to your cultural identity, but also to the legendary history of the nation. We instantly think of those sweet laden gulab jamuns, samosas and chicken tikkas each time the mention of Indian food comes into the frame. Please hold your breath and listen to this! That they aren’t. Although they may have been so inextricably well acquainted with our cuisine, somewhere else lies their roots. These delicacies came, saw, and made India their home as the Indian subcontinent was constantly subject to attacks and influences from the surrounding nations.
So let us know about These famous Indian dishes, which are actually not Indian:
The delicious samosa you still munch on as a tea-time snack or it’s not Indian at all when sudden hunger-pangs strike! In the Middle East, the triangular potato/meat-filled savoury dish that is conveniently found on each street-corner actually has roots. The Indian samosa was originally called ‘sambosa’ and was probably brought to the country sometime between the 13th and 14th centuries by Middle East merchants. But whatever, we’re just glad we get these tasty yummy treats to hog!
Biryani is believed to be a South Asian dish. But some chefs think it originated in Persia. It is also said that it was implemented in India long before Babur came here.
3. Gulaab Jamun
Ooh. Ooh. We’re sure your mouth’s watering already. The mere thought of these deep-fried and then soaked, calorie-filled dough balls is enough to send everyone to heaven for food. What’s more, this dish is so versatile that it can be enjoyed wet, cold or at room temperature. But it was in the Mediterranean and Persia that the favourite Indian dessert originated. Although the original form of the dessert is called luqmat al qadi and is made of deep-fried dough balls, soaked in honey syrup and sprinkled with sugar, the recipe was changed once it reached India. How we wish that it was already lunch-time!
Almost every Indian’s unassuming comfort drink is by no means authentic desi. Tea has its roots in China, known the world over as chai (Starbucks has a Chai Latte on their menu). Although it was used as a medicinal drink by the Chinese, the British soon discovered it and enjoyed the versatile quality of it. Now, the British want to cut China’s monopoly on the tea market by being British. So, the humble ‘chai’ was brought to India by them (by teaching cultivation techniques to the tribals in North-East India plus offering incentives to Britons who wanted to cultivate in India). And ever since, it has been a part of India! It was only in the 1950s, actually, that tea became so popular. Now, don’t look down unexpectedly into the cup you’re sipping while reading this!
5. Dal Bhaat
All over India, Dal Bhaat or Dal-rice are a comfort snack. There are also variants of this food that are very common among Indians, like the Khichdi. While dal bhaat seems like an Indian dish that is very basic, it’s not Indian at all. Actually, Dal bhaat is of Nepali origin and it was through North Indian influences that the dish entered India and spread across the country. We are confident that the next time you eat this easy meal, you will dream of the Himalayas!
6. Chicken Tikka Masala
There are numerous arguments about the place of origin of Chicken Tikka Masala, like the Indian subcontinent’s Punjab region or Glasgow in Scotland. You’ll be shocked to know that this dish is among the most popular dishes in the United Kingdom. Not only that, it was named ‘A Real British National Dish’ by Robin Cook, Minister of the British Government in 2001.
In the old Middle Eastern era, in the middle of the nineteenth century in Ottoman Bursa, the most popular street food among non-veggie lovers started (present-day Bursa, Turkey). In different types, their lip smacking Shawarmas is served up. A few spots offer at least two meat options and are usually presented with a variety of vegetables, such as onions, tomatoes, cucumber and a split lemon enhanced. Make a beeline to try their Open Shawarma and Classic Chick Shawarma for Arsalan’s Shawarma King in Malvani, Malad. The Shawarmas here are embodiments of their own and deliver a number of other Middle Eastern delicacies.
From being a North Indian staple to being enjoyed by most Indians, Rajma chawal has quickly spread. The dish is a wholesome meal in itself that is as common as the North Indian chole-bhature. Nevertheless, the preparation of Rajma or the Rajma chawal kidney bean is not Indian. The bean was introduced via Central Mexico and Guatemala to India. From Mexican recipes, the initial preparation or soaking and boiling the beans and adding a few spices is adapted. Even today, Rajma is a staple in the Mexican diet, while Indian versions are very distinct from Mexican preparations. In North India, the beans and recipes prepared using Rajma are popular, and Indian spices and vegetables such as onions and tomatoes are often added by locals to make it tangy. Cool, aren’t they?
9. Bandel Cheese
This is another Bengali staple dish with Portuguese influences. While the cheese was made in India and has its roots in Eastern India, the Portuguese produced it using their own cheese and bread making techniques. Originally, the cheese that has grown into a wide range today was available in only one variety. Over time, people played with the smoked flavour of Bandel cheese and developed it. It was the Portuguese fermentation techniques that helped create this cheese and Burmese cooks under Portuguese supervision created it in the old days.
This is one dish that the entire world likes. Naan is a form of leavened bread, a staple of North India, and is available throughout the country in almost all North Indian restaurants. Recently, Americans and Europeans have discovered the pleasures of this bread and love to pair it with their chicken tikka. Naan is not Indian, however, but was brought during the Mughal period to India. Although the style of leavened bread is actually Iranian, Naan has its origins in Persian cuisine. The sweet, melt-in-the-mouth bread is definitely a favourite, but it might actually tingle your taste buds by trying different forms of rose-water, khus or stuffed naan!
Another surprise which has its roots in Portuguese cuisine is this mouth-watering Bengali delicacy. The Portuguese influence spread from Goa to Eastern Bengal or Bangladesh all the way, and even today the influences are evident in Bengali cuisine. Shukto is made from Karela or Bitter Gourd, which is of Indian origin, but was prepared in the old days by the Portuguese. Slowly, Indian influences have been introduced to the dish, such as many other vegetables and a splash of milk/sweet to cut the spice. Just be grateful that today you can savour this delicious dish!
We’ve even got an item number connected to this delicious sweet! How could this not be Indian? But he is not. Jalebi is actually from the Middle East, while numerous variants of the sweet have been discovered across different regions of Asia. Originally known as zalabiya (Arabic) or zalibiya (Persian), the Persian invaders took the dish to India. Today, the Jalebi dessert is popular in various forms throughout the world. The South Indian version is thicker and has a slightly different form, while North India loves their thin and crunchy jalebis. Variations of the Jalebi include Jaangiri and Imartee. Wow!-Wow! So many variants of a sweet one only. No wonder it was Indian, you thought!
13. Filter Coffee
What?” you say, “How can Filter coffee not be Indian? Well, filter coffee became popular in India late in the 1950s, about the same time Chai started to get traction. Until the 16th century, when Baba Budan smuggled it into the country on his pilgrimage to Mecca, coffee was not part of India. He cultivated coffee on his return and the drink soon became popular. Instead of liqueur, Indians can drink coffee without milk or sugar. When they founded their first coffee house in Bombay in 1936, filter coffee was popularised by the Coffee Cess Committee. And so much information! Time for a break from the kaapi?
It is derived from Faloodeh, a Persian dish. Muslim merchants and dynasties who settled in India in the 16th and 17th centuries brought the desert to India.
The very sound of it brings you to Goa’s beaches and to a happy family lunch. But the very spicy meat curry is by no means Goan! In Portuguese cuisine, Vindaloo has its origins and it has been adapted from the very popular carne de vinha d’alhos, Vindaloo’s Portuguese name. Vindaloo was originally made of wine, pork and garlic and that’s how it derived its name (vin – wine, alhos – garlic), although it was changed by Indians using palm vinegar, pork/beef/chicken and various spices. Although the initial recipe does not use potatoes, by using potatoes, Indians further changed the recipe as the word “aloo” in Vindaloo means potato in Hindi. Now you know where the sudden slice of potato popped out of the chunks of beef.