Heartbreaking for foodies- 8 Indian foods that aren’t really Indian

Sep 17, 2016 | General Knowledge, History

As Indians, our passion for our food probably trumps our passion for India-Pakistan cricket matches. For centuries, India was ruled by a vast number of foreign rulers and dynasties from various parts of the world. Not only did they bring their culture with them, but also their tasty dishes. Now, we Indians are known to be generous and adaptive. So, not only did we welcome their food but also added our own flavor to give them a ‘desi’ twist and make them our own.  Here is a list of 8 ‘Indian’ foods that you thought had their origins in India but actually didn’t!

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

– George Bernard Shaw

Indian Food history, Indian food with foreign origin, samosa origin, samosa history

1  Samosa

Samosa is believed to have originated in the Middle East (where it is known as sambosa) prior to the 10th century. Mention of samosa can be found in Tarikh-e-Beyhaghi, a historical book written by an Iranian historian, Abolfazl Beyhaqi (995-1077). Samosa was introduced in Indian subcontinent in the 13th-14th century by traders from Central Asia as pointed out by a paper published by Oxford, “The Oxford Companion to Food”.

Indian Food history, Indian food with foreign origin, jalebi origin, jalebi history

2  Jalebi

The oldest form of Jalebi originated in the West Asia, where it was called Zalabiya (Arabic) or Zalibiya (Persian). It was traditionally given to the poor in Ramadan. A 10th century cookbook gives several recipes of Zalabiya. It was brought to Medieval India by Persian-speaking invaders. Priyamkarnrpakatha, a work by the Jain author Jinasura, composed around 1450, mentions jalebi in the context of a dinner held by a rich merchant.

Indian Food history, Indian food with foreign origin, Gulab Jamun origin, Gulab Jamun history

3  Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun was derived from a fritter (batter) that originated in Persia, where it was known as luqmat al-qadi. The word gulab is derived from the Persian words ‘gol’ (meaning flower) and ‘ab’ meaning (water), referring to the rose water-scented syrup. It was possibly introduced to India during the time of the Mughals, where the recipe was subsequently modified, making the batter more complex than luqmat al-qadi but retaining the rose water syrup.

Indian Food history, Indian food with foreign origin, Chai origin, Chai history, Tea Origin

4  Chai (Tea)

Tea originated in south-west China, where it was used as a medicinal drink. The first recorded instance of tea in China was in 59 BC, though it probably originated earlier. Originally called chá, it was introduced in India by the British in an attempt to break the Chinese monopoly on tea. They brought seeds from China and experimented with planting tea in Darjeeling.

Indian Food history, Indian food with foreign origin, Filter Coffee origin, Filter Coffee history

5  Filter Coffee

Coffee is believed to have originated in Ethiopia, from where it was introduced into the Arab world through Egypt and Yemen. In the 16th-17th century, a Sufi saint named Baba Budan first smuggled coffee out of the Middle East to India on return from his pilgrimage to Mecca. The seeds were then planted in Mysore and thus, began the popularization of coffee in India.

Indian Food history, Indian food with foreign origin, Dal Chawal origin, Dal Chawal history

6  Dal Chawal

Dal Chawal, one of the most staple dishes of the Indian subcontinent, originated in Nepal, where it is known as Dal Bhat. In fact, Dal Bhat served with a mix of vegetables (known as Dal Bhat Tarkari) is the national food of Nepal.  It made its way through North India and spread rapidly across the country giving rise to variants such as khichdi.

Indian Food history, Indian food with foreign origin, Rajma Chawal origin, Rajma Chawal history

7  Rajma Chawal

Rajma Chawal by itself is an Indian dish but the method of preparation of Rajma (Red beans) originated in Mexico. The beans were brought to India from Central Mexico and the initial preparation involving soaking & boiling the beans and adding spices was adapted from Mexican recipes. Red beans and rice is quite common across Latin America, but the addition of Indian spices makes Rajma Chawal quite different from them.

Indian Food history, Indian food with foreign origin, Shukto origin, Shukto history

8  Shukto

Shukto is a Bengali delicacy which has its origins in Portuguese cuisine. During the Portuguese rule in India, they had a preparation of bitter gourd (which itself is of Indian origin) which was used as a mouth freshener. The Bengalis fell in love with the dish and adapted it to their tastes through addition of multiple vegetables and sweet/milk to give rise to Shukto.