Spice can be said to be one single thing which makes the Indian cuisine so different from others. While it is true that you have spices in other traditional cuisines as well, such as oregano in the Italian cuisine, the sheer mix of spices in Indian cuisine makes you take a deep smell and open your mouth wide for that first mouthwatering bite. Some of the most common spices used in this cuisine are cumin, cardamom, hing, mustard, coriander, turmeric and fenugreek.
Today, you can enjoy authentic Indian cuisines at Indian restaurants near the Rutherford area.
Let us now see how the Indian cuisine became so popular over the years and the role of spices in it.
Why does Indian cuisine contain so many different spices?
This is a question which still plagues many people in the western world. After all, in western cuisines only a couple of spies are used in combinations. For instance, common spice combinations in western food are allspice and cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, salt and pepper. However, in Indian food, many spices are used. There are dishes which uses include as many as 40 spices!
A brief history of Indian and Western cuisine
In the ancient times in Europe long before refrigeration came into play, spices were in great demand for many reasons. First of all, spies could extend the healthy life of stored meat. Secondly, some spices had medicinal properties where was quite useful for the local communities. Thirdly, they made food tastier. The problem was that herbs could be grown at your backyard garden without an issue, but growing spices was impossible. The climate and the soil were not conductive to the growth of spices in Europe. Besides, getting spices was not easy as they were very expensive. They were considered to be a luxury back then, as precious as gold and silver. The only way to get them was through the European spice traders who never unveiled the actual location of the lands from where they got all the spices from. Thus, these lands remained shrouded in a cloud of romance and mystery. Still, adventurers ventured forth at times to get Indian spices. Those who survived and returned with spices became rich overnight.
The Geography of India and its role in growth of spices
Both India and Sri Lanka are situated not just in the world’s tropical region but also in the direct center of the spice trade. Back then, the Arab traders used to come once or twice a year and take Indian spices to their lands. India also gained in pepper and cloves from the famous Spice Islands of Java. All this gave the people of India numerous spices easily accessible. While the western cooks counted themselves lucky if they had just a small bag of spices, Indians could make preparations with as many as 40 different spices which were easily available! The climate of India was unique, and still is, in the sense that I facilitated the growth of native spices as well as those introduced from other countries. For instance, cardamom and black pepper grew wild in the many large Indian forests back then, while hot chili which was later introduced but soon became a part and parcel of the land’s culture and food.
Thus, the reason why Indian cuisine uses so many spices is because it had access to so many of them. Most were native while others were introduced from other lands over the years. Moreover, spice in India back then was easily available and inexpensive and that is why it was used widely and in considerably. In addition to this, the country’s religious texts stated that certain spices were beneficial to health in proper quantities.
Today, you can experience the delights of authentic and spicy Indian cuisine all over the world. There are even some notable Indian restaurants near the Rutherford area.