India, as a country has one of the most diverse and rich food scenes in the world. If there’s anything beyond Bollywood and cricket that the world looks up to India for, it has to be food.
To top that, the very fact that the country has always attracted wanderers from across the world, India’s food scene also has a lot of international influences. In fact, you’d be surprised to know that food items like samosa and jalebi which you always thought were from India, are actually not!
Here are eight iconic Indian food items that don’t have desi origins at all.
Rajma Chawal – Mexico
A unanimous favorite in North Indian homes, rajma, or kidney beans doesn’t belong to India at all! Kidney beans were never grown in the country in the first place and were in fact, brought in by the Portuguese. As for the common preparation style where the beans are soaked, boiled, and then cooked with species is something that comes from Mexico!
Of course, we Indians only ramped up the spice factor to give kidney beans a completely new meaning.
Jalebi – Middle East
This dessert has many regional variations across India but jalebi is also not an Indian preparation. The much-loved sweet was introduced in India by Persian invaders. In fact, the name jalebi also comes from the dessert’s Persian name ‘zalibiya’ or ‘zulabiya’ while it is called ‘zalabiya’ in Arabic.
Samosa – Middle East
When you think of the perfect evening snack on a rainy day, it is most likely that the first thing that comes to mind is a samosa. The potato-filled snack has united one and all since time immemorial but you’ll be surprised to know that it originates from the middle-east.
Legend has it that the popular tea-time snack was first brought in by traders in the 14th century. Indians took to samosas in no time and there just hasn’t been any looking back ever since.
Gulab Jamun – Persia
Gulab Jamuns as we know them, are deep-fried dough balls soaked in sugar water but did you know that they were never meant to be prepared in this manner!
Before gulab jamuns became the staple Indian dessert, the Persians used to soak them in pure honey that would give them a completely different taste palate. Luqmat al qadi, the original gulab jamun got quite a makeover upon reaching India and became a go-to dessert that you can’t help but obsess over.
Tikka Masala – Glasgow, UK
It is believed that tikka masala, yet another popular delicacy in North India was actually invented when a chef in Glasgow decided to mix tomato soup in the chicken curry to appease a customer. The dish took the Scottish town by storm and in no time, traveled far and wide including India where it reached its present form.
So the next time you’re feasting on tikka masala, don’t forget to remember the one man who started it all!
Chai – China
Love it or hate it but if you’re in India, you just cannot ignore chai. It is one of the most grown and consumed products in India but believe it or not, chai, or tea, actually has its origins in China. The Chinese had been using tea as a medicinal drink before the British came across it and decided to bring it to India. The British also taught tribes in northeast India the art of tea cultivation and ever since, tea has become synonymous to India.
Filter Coffee – Yemen
Yet another drink that is associated with India and loved across states but has its routes abroad is filter coffee. The beverage was first made in Yemen where it was consumed without milk and sugar, as a substitute for liquor. It is believed that Baba Budan, a Sufi saint first smuggled the beverage to India and it was only after a coffee house was set up in Mumbai in 1936 that Indians started brewing filter coffee.
Dal Chawal – Nepal
A dish reminiscent of the entire idea of home-cooked food, dal rice is as basic yet as comforting as it can get. However, did you know that the perfect comfort food actually comes from Nepal? Yes, it was the locals in Nepal who are credited to having first paired cooked lentils with boiled rice. The combination just clicked, traveled through the shared borders with North India, and became a staple meal of sorts