Introduction and History
Since ancient times, Indian food and spices has remained hugely popular all around the world. The Indian spices were imported to Rome from as early as && C.E. The Arab traders too, from the beginning of Common Era, imported most spices from India. All the major kingdoms throughout Europe and Asia has an active Spice Trade with India through the middle ages. As the middle ages dawned, not just the spices but also the Indian cuisine became hugely popular all around the world. Infact, to gain access to the Spice Route of India, a number of battles were fought between European Powers including France, Portugal, England, Dutch and Spain. One of the major reasons why the British first visited India before colonizing it were the Indian spices and condiments. Cristopher Columbus too searched for a sea route to India to resume the European Spice Trade with India post the fall of Constantinople and in turn discovered America accidently.
Reasons for Popularity of Indian Cuisine
Indian recipes are known traditionally for the extremely simple style of cooking that redeems the nutritional value of the food while also enhancing the taste of it at the same time with rich spices and condiments. Infact, the concept of salads and pickles too originated in India. They were served to act as an appetizer to stimulate the taste buds alongside the main dish.
With different local traditions and cultures, the food and recipes too are diverse in various parts of India. While in North India, wheat is the staple grain, in Southern and Eastern India, the staple food is rice. The food habit vary also according to geographical location, major crops of the region and the weather condition. While sea food is popular in coastal regions, vegetarian cuisine is preferred in Central India. However, with the culture of exchanging food with friends and neighbours, every part of India has recipes from other parts just as popular.
The food prepared during festivals have their own significance. More example, on occasion of Makar Sankranti in the month of January, Bajra Rotis and sweets that are made of ‘Til’ and Jaggery are served as they help maintain body temperature. In such occasions, the compulsion of eating healthy food is not felt as everybody enjoys eating these dishes as a part of festive activities. The popularity of these festivals has also helped create popularity for Indian food worldwide.
Moreover, Ayurveda or Indian Medical Science is known for its easy and natural way of treatment. The foundation of Ayurveda is on healthy Indian food and herbs. Yoga too originated in India. Indian cooking and food have been traditionally drawn from this yogic philosophy of eating and cooking. Thus, with popularity of Yoga and Ayurveda, people all over the world have realized the health benefits of eating Indian food.
Though Indian Food was popular in parts of Europe, Middle East and UK since middle ages, it is mainly due to the Indians settled abroad that Indian food has gained popularity in the North America. Thus, Indian expats have helped in popularizing Indian cuisine all over the world in Modern Times.
Moreover, with massive growth of television industry, many food shows have sprung up throughout the world. Indian recipes as part of those cooking shows too have helped popularize Indian cuisine abroad.