Origins of Indian Cuisine
The Origins of Indian Cuisine lie with the ancient Indian
civilization of India that was called Harappa and Mohenjodaro. The
Dravidians or inhabitants of these civilization were urban and not agrarian. They
had huge granaries to store grain, houses with a drainage system, pathways or roads and
public baths. They sowed the seeds of Ayurveda,
or Life Sciences, which is the foundation of Indian cuisine. This system was derived after
studying the physical needs, mental needs and needs of our psychology and spirituality.
The people of Mohenjodaro and Harrapa were pushed to the South part of
India be the invasion of the Aryans who came from Europe or Asia Minor. It is not
very clear where the Aryans originated from but Aryans are to be found in Europe, Persia
and India. (In fact the Swastika - a good luck symbol of the Aryan
culture is still very prevalent in India). The ideas of Ayurveda were developed
further by the Aryans Many of the texts on this subject were written in the
Influences from subsequent conquests on the Indian sub-continent
1. The Aryans
During the Aryan period the cuisine the Great Hindu Empires concentrated on the fine
aspects of food and to understand its essence and how it contributed to the development of
mind, body and spirit. After this period the cuisine was influenced by the following
conquests from other cultures.
2. Mongolians (hot pot cooking)
The most notable was the influence of Persian rulers who established the Mughal Rule in
here for more about Mughal cuisine)
5. Greeks (Alexander the great)
6. Chinese (from trading and cultural and educational exchanges with them)
7. Arabs (traders)
8. Portuguese (the Indian Vindaloo dish is a result of the Portuguese)
9. British (Indian Ketchup, tea)
Personal Note :
Even today I believe that the Idli/Sambar and
Dosa which is the staple food of South India (where there is a concentration of
Dravidians) is one of the most intellectual and also tasty cuisine that man could devise.
Parboiled rice (helps preserve vitamins unlike polished rice) and dal (lentils) are taken
in the right combinations and then fermented and steamed to deliver a profoundly
nutritious, balanced and tasty meal. This cuisine is ultra light on the earths
resources and on the digestive system and hence a true health and wellness meal for both
the environment and the individual. - Kavita
A Special Mention
||One of the
greatest influences on Indias cuisine occurred in the 2nd century B.C.
The powerful and benevolent and popular Emperor Ashoka of that time popularized a
vegetarian cuisine. Even today a majority of Indians are vegetarian. The two other
individuals that helped make India vegetarian are Mahavir and Buddha. (Also the ancient, urban Dravidian civilization
may have been vegetarian.)
Ashoka was also the first statesman in recorded history that had an
environmental department in his administration. This department set environmental laws,
posted these laws on stone billboards and had an environmental enforcement program.
work is dedicated to my dear friend Canalla Ellis with who I had the best of times
planning, creating and giving my classes. Kavita Mehta
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work is dedicated to my mother Shanta who taught me the tenants of Ayurvedic Cuisine and
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1990 to 2001 - Kavita Mehta. All Rights Reserved.
Kavita has been giving classes on Indian Cuisine in Minneapolis for the
past 10 years. She now shares her work on her website for all to enjoy.