Ancient to Modern: Indian food

The History of Indian Food

This is a small attempt to tell the huge and long story of Indian cuisine, how it came to be. Let us just stick to major, epochal sections for brevity.

When Aryans came to the subcontinent around 1500 BC, food was simple for this land-tilling, nomadic tribes. By 1000 BC, and settling in the fertile Gangetic plains, their food became more complex. Barley and wheat are the chief produce; cakes are made from them and eaten as staple and offered to the gods.

As agrarianism grew, cattle and domesticated animals came into the picture and soon the Aryans became meat-eaters. When slaughtering the animals for meat got too costly, vegetarianism was born among the Aryans. With the arrival of Buddhism and Jainism in the 6th century BC, eating meat became taboo.

Until the early medieval period, vegetarianism was mainstream food in India – grains, fruits, vegetables, and milk. The warm climate allowed for growing herbs and spices and food became more complex. During this time Indian food interacted with foreigners – the Greeks, Romans, and Arabs who introduced coffee. Then Persian Zoroastrians came and gave India the Parsi cuisine, composed of hot and sweet spices. Then the Mughals came with their nuts and fruits and the art of elegant dining. Tomato, chilli, potato, and refined sugar came from the Portuguese. Hindu refugees from Afghanistan brought their tandoori. And then the British – the taste for tea and the art of using spoon and fork.

India’s interaction with these diverse cultures has so enriched its cuisine and its own unique blends carried and spread all over the known world, and continues to do so to this age.

Bellevue Indian Food: An evolution of Food

Let our Bellevue Indian restaurant, the Spice Route, share with you the richness and diversity of Indian cuisine right here in Washington. What we bring to your table is a food experience evolution of one of Asia’s oldest civilization.