A nation of 29 states and 7 union territories, India boasts of varied demography. And when you speak of demography what better way to define it than food. With a range of cuisine from North to South and East to West, each state has its specialty and every single of it has its own story to tell.
Here are some of the famous Indian dishes and a few facts about its origin.
MysorePak :This sweet dish of Karnataka is known worldwide for its distinct taste. Made out of sugar, gram flour and a substantial amount of ghee (fat), this dish is considered a Royal sweet. The word Pak in Kannada means Sugar syrup.
Origin: It is believed that this sweet was prepared in the Royal kitchen of Mysore palace in Karnataka. The chef Kakasura Madappa in the royal kitchen created a concoction of sugar syrup with gram flour, and to bind them used generous amounts of ghee. When this sweet was served to the king, he relished it so much that he asked the chef to open a store outside the Mysore palace so that the common people can taste it. But when asked the name of this dish, Madappa hadn’t named it yet, so it was called Mysore Pak. Interestingly, the shop is still available in Mysore by the name Guru Sweets that was opened in 1957 on Sayyaji Rao Road.
Butter Chicken: This lip smacking main course dish is made by using he basic core ingredients, i.e. loads of butter and chicken, also using various Indian spices as flavoring agents. Butter Chicken can be eaten with piping hot rice, or Rotis and Nans (Indian Breads). You can find this dish with varied taste across the length and breadth of India and abroad as well.
Origin: Butter Chicken is believed to be first introduced by Kundan Lal Gujral who ran the restaurant Moti Mahal Delux in Peshawar, Indiain the Pre-Independence era. After the partition, this restaurant moved to Old Delhi. The legend goes something like this, one nightjust after closing the restaurant for the public, a VIP guest visited the restaurant and requested for freshly cooked food. When the chef was informed, he went through the stock he had for cooking food and all he could find was a piece of chicken and butter. So, he came up with a recipe by using the chicken with generous amounts of butter while flavoring the dish tomatoes and garam masala. What he did not know was that the VIP guest was the ruler of Mareelun and he loved the dish very much. So, with this dish impressing a Royal, it became famous because of the rich texture and flavor.
Pav Bhaji: Bhaji, which is a healthy mixture of various vegetables made guilty with loads of butter, is a comfort food for many. The bhaji is supplemented with bread known as Pav toasted generously in butter. The combination of this amazing Pav and Bhaji is found in every nook and corner of India and is an extremely popular meal to satiate hunger pangs.
Origin: Believed to have originated in Mumbai in the 1960’s this dish was made for daily mill workers who had to go through rigorous physical work. As the workers had to go for work immediately after having lunch, they had to eat light lunch instead of a heavy one. Looking at this plight of the workers, a local vendor mixed the left-over ingredients of other dishes and made a mixed vegetable. He kept rice and roti out of this dish and supplemented it with a bread called pav to keep it light. This dish was an instant hit so much so that starting in late 1960’s Pav Bhaji was one of the premium dishes in restaurants.
Samosa: Ever heard happiness comes in triangles? Samosa is one such triangle that is always an accompaniment to happiness and festivities throughout the country. This traditional dish of India filled with potatoes and spices is deep-fried and has many variations. You can find Samosa’s filled with chicken, mutton, potatoes, vegetables and the list goes on. Be it summer, winter or especially rainy season, Indians will vouch for Samosas with tea. Samosa is a dish that is widely available in other parts of the world as well including Dubai. In fact,some people believe that Samosa has its origin in the Middle East. Checkout for some distinct list of Dubai cuisine.
Origin: Believed to be originally from Central Asia, this dish was supposedly brought into India by traders who entered India taking routes from Central Asia. Since, they had to travel far and heavy food cannot be carried, they started cooking small mince filled triangles that was easy to cook and carry in saddle bags, and can be eaten during the day. As this dish entered India, it was replaced by potatoes and vegetables to suit the eating habit of vegetarians. This instant hit dish is also believed to be from Middle East and was introduced sometime in the 13th or 14th century.
Idli: This white-colored steamed disc made from fermented batter of lentils and rice is a plate of divinity served across India but originally belongs to South India. Accompanied with sambar and chutneys, it is a healthy food cooked with almost no oil and butter. Idli comes in various flavoured and taste Instant Rava Idli, various millet Idli and healthier option Oats Idli are famous.
Origin: The food historian, K.T. Acharya speculates that this south-Indian delicacy was originally brought to India from Indonesia that has a long history of fermented foods. According to his belief, the cooks of Hindu kings in Indonesia may have invented the idli there and brought this recipe to India in 800 to 1200 CE. Another belief is that when the Arab traders came to India to avoid the confusion whether Indian food is halal or haram, started making rice balls and ate it with coconut paste. Although, there can be contradictions to both the stories, leave it at bay and enjoy the steaming Idli with some mouth-watering sambar and chutney.
No matter the origins, no matter the history; these dishes of India have made a special place in our palates. It’s hard to find people of Indian origin who have not yet tasted or heard these delicacies at least once in their life. such is the popularity of these dishes, that many of the foreign food enthusiasts know India with these names.
This is a Guest Post by Neha Singh, a full-time travel blogger by profession. She is a an avid reader and love to travel.
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