Indians love food. Every Indian likes to indulge in the guilty pleasure of rich food. We are a nation of diverse people with many differences. But food is one thing that unites us. Although the food of our nation is also diverse but it is enjoyed by everyone. It is also a fact that the cuisines of India vary with states.
In all these varying cuisines there are certain foods that you may wonder how they originated. And that is why we have collected some interesting dishes and their stories that you will find amusing.
The word ‘biryani’ comes from the Persian word ‘birian’ meaning ‘fried before cooking’. According to the legend, Mumtaz Mahal(1593-1631), while visiting the army barracks realized that the soldiers there were under-nourished. She ordered that a dish be made that can provide balanced nutrition. The chef prepared many dishes but Mumtaz liked biryani as it was a one pot complete meal.
- Butter Chicken
Butter Chicken originated in New Delhi. It was introduced by Chef Simon Mahil Chahal in Moti Mahal restaurant. According to the legend, one night when the restaurant shut down, a VIP guest visited the restaurant and asked for a chicken dish. The chef realized that he had only half chicken tandoori in his stock. He decided to improvise on the dish and put in large amounts of butter, tomato and masalas and invented a new dish. The VIP guest was none other than the ruler of Mareelun and he loved the dish. And that’s how it became popular.
The earliest origins of Idli is in ‘Vaddaradhane’ of 970 A.D. A story in which Idli is one of the eighteen dishes served to a Brahamchari. But, the recipe of making Idli is not present in the story.
If we dig a little deeper into history, we find our answers. The Chinese historian Xuang Zang claims that India had no steaming containers. But around 800-1200 AD, the Hindu Indonesian Kings brought with them, the methods of steaming and fermentation. They gave birth to a unique dish called Kedli in South India which resulted in the formation of Idli.
Although Idli was created a long time back, Sambar came into the scene much later. It was in the 18th century that a dish called amti was created in the kitchen of the ruler Shahuji of Thanjavur. It was a very special dish as it contained kokum as one of its ingredients. One season, the kokum ran out of supply. Everyone was thinking what to do when an advisor of the court advised that tamarind pulp should be used instead of kokum to maintain sour taste. So, a dish was made which contained vegetables, tuvar dal, spices and the pulp of tamarind. The dish was served to Shahuji’s cousin Sambhaji. Everyone loved the dish and it was named Sambhar after the name of the guest Sambhaji.
Most Indian dishes contain Paneer. The list of dishes is endless, starting from Shahi Paneer to Palak Paneer. But, it is known to few that Paneer was invented by accident. Once, the Mongols were on a trip on their horses. They were travelling with Mushkis(bags of raw-hyde) which contained milk. Due to the rennet of leather and the dessert heat made Paneer out of the milk. The Mongols found the Paneer to be very delicious. In the years that followed, this ingredient was brought to India and it was an instant hit.
Try these Paneer recipes:-
One of the most famous snack in India today is samosa. But, do you know about its origins? It originated from Central Asia. According to legend, the traders from different parts of the world traveled to India using Central Asian trade routes. They could not carry heavy food so they cooked small triangles that were filled with mince. These were easy to make and carry and could be eaten anytime. When this dish came to India, it was a big hit and Samosa became a staple snack for kings and commoners alike.
- Pav Bhaji
The origins of Pav Bhaji are in the city of Mumbai. A local vendor came up with this dish after realizing the problems of daily mill workers. The workers had a very short meal break. They had to do rigorous physical labor after these mini breaks. So, a light lunch was needed. So, the local vendor created a dish with leftovers of other dishes. The roti and rice was substituted with Pav. And the curries were converted into a spicy mixture called ‘bhaji’. The dish became very popular and is loved by all.
- Vada Pav
Like Pav Bhaji, Vada Pav was also created in Bombay. The dish was created by Ashok Vaidya, who was a snack vendor outside Dadar station. Dadar is a major hub for commuters and a very important station. Vaidya, very innovatively came up with this recipe so that the commuters can eat on the go. The dish was served with fiery red chutney made up of peanuts, coconuts, garlic, chilli and tamarind. This was in 1971 and the dish is still very popular in Bombay and all over India
Kebabs are very popular in the Middle East and also loved by Indians. It was invented in the Medieval Era of Turkey. According to the legend the travelling soldiers wanted to save meat and that is why they cut small pieces of meat, grilled them and ate them with bread. The dish has become popular all over the world today.
- Tandoori Chicken
The same restaurant that gave us Butter Chicken, gave us Tandoori Chicken. It was at Moti Mahal Delux, that the dish was invented by the Chef Kundan Lal Gujral. The chef always tried to experiment with dishes. He loved his tandoor and as an experiment, he took some chicken, applied spices and put it in tandoor. The resulting dish was so good that even Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (First Prime Minister of India) liked it. Later, the dish was prepared for many Indian dignitaries like Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, King of Nepal, Shah of Iran etc.