The South Asian Misnomer
WINE&DINE|April - June 2021
Incredibly diverse and varied than most know, Indian food is far more intriguing than butter chicken or thosai. Here is a crash course on the extensive cuisine from region to region, recognisable for the seemingly infinite ways of using spices.
Harnoor Channi-Tiwary
The South Asian Misnomer

“The very belief that ‘Indian food’ is (and has always been) hot and laden with chillies is a common misconception, given that red chillies were only introduced to India 450 years ago by the Portuguese.”

Spices and India are interwoven through centuries of shared history, akin to a long relationship with its trials and tribulations but in the end, the two partners are imprinted on each other’s soul. But how did this romance begin? To answer that seemingly simple question, one has to peer back into the ancient history of the Indian subcontinent.

India and the borders within which it is now confined to is less than a century old. Yet, this ancient land traces its history back to tens of thousands of years, when cavemen inhabited the earth. More recently, one of the world’s three earliest civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization left behind traces of well-planned cities that flourished around 2500BC. The journey from then until now was fraught with wars and occupied by different rulers, some homegrown, others coming from lands as far as Mongol, Persia and even Britain and France.

With a history as colourful as that, the cuisines of India inevitably underwent numerous transformations, adapting and evolving with each era. The very belief that ‘Indian food’ is (and has always been) hot and laden with chillies is a common misconception, given that red chillies were only introduced to India 450 years ago by the Portuguese.

An unknown flavour profile to the inhabitants of the country, red chillies found their way to Indian shores presumably from Brazil thanks to the Portuguese fleets of Vasco da Gama.

This story is from the April - June 2021 edition of WINE&DINE.

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This story is from the April - June 2021 edition of WINE&DINE.

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