BY AKSHAY DINESH KULKARNI
Religious Influence On Indian Food
India is a land of diversity. Her countless landscapes, different languages, magnificent festivals and multi-ethnicity reflect the culture and tradition of this land. Indian cuisine is also as diverse and wonderful as the colourful country. From the northern tip of Kashmir to the southern state of Kerala, and from the western ghats of Gujarat to Nagaland in the east, India’s food habits are as variant and colourful as the people of India. However, a particular pattern exists among all this diversity. Apart from India, the traditional religious Indian cuisine has also gained popularity across the globe Indian Cooking derives from a 4000 year old timeline, during which culture has changed, geographical boundaries have changed significantly leading to confusing terms such as sub-continental cuisine while other parts of a region want a separate culinary identity. Unfortunately since India's root cuisine precedes the subsequent subdivisions trying to distinguish between modern India’s cuisine and that of its neighbors, is not really feasible.
Indian Cooking has however evolved significantly over time and the varying influences brought into the country by the various rulers and travelers, it has not lost its original identity, rather become richer with the assimilation of the myriad influences. This is very apparent in some of the unique regional cuisines Religious influence on Indian food has bechanced due to the invaders, immigrations and intermingling of different people from the pre Christian era. The presence of diverse climatic condition has also helped to broaden the sets of ingredients present in the cuisines.
In India, food has become a marker of different religious and social identity. Every religion present with varying taboos and preferences, such as Hindus do not consume Cows, Muslims do consume beef and Jain population do not eat roots or subterranean vegetables. This eating habit further supports the fact that Indian cuisine has witnessed a heavy influence of religion.
The main religious influence on Indian food is of the Hindu religion. 1000 BC: At this point we see the first movement of outsiders into the country, this forms the origins of the Indus Valley Civilizations. The Mohenjodaro people are believed to have been pushed to the Southern Part of the country and the cuisine there is still largely vegetarian. The roots of Hinduism are shaped at this point, the Vedas or the religious texts are developed at this point as is the Mahabharatha. The caste system is developed at this point in time, dividing food habits of people broadly by caste, for example the Brahmins for the most part were vegetarians while the Khatriyas were non-vegetarian. However, Brahmins of the eastern coastal regions are non vegetarians.The Hindu influence on Indian cuisine is immense. The Hindus are mostly vegetarians for ethical reasons . They consume a vast range of different vegetables like tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach, green beans and potatoes to make different lavish dishes. They include several other vegetables like cluster beans, beetroot, eggplant, cucumber okra, and white radish..
Another religious influence on Indian food is by the Muslim community. 1200-1500AD: This period is the period of Muslim Invasions and the first entry of several foreign invaders into the country. Vasco Da Gama arrived in India in 1948 to explore opportunities for trade which later resulted in colonization of parts of India by the Portuguese, the most notable example of this influence is seen in the cuisine of Goa, in Western India. The Khilji Dynasty ruled in Northern India during a significant period of time, an interesting travelogue of this period is provided by Ibn Batuta a Moroccan traveler in the court of Mohamed Bin Tughluk. In one instance he describes a meal served to him where is outlines the use of...