India is a huge country and when so many of its flavors are brought together, aficionados are introduced to its rather flavorful cuisine. The Indian cuisine is truly a blend of its vast and diverse cultures; with rice being the staple in the south and wheat dominating many of northern India’s dishes. All the possibilities seen on an Indian menu are indeed an assortment of flavors, to say the least.
The worldwide popularity of this cuisine is on the rise and now scientific evidence has been added to the equation to explain some of this recognition. Research based on findings from the Indian Institute of Technology in Jodhpur reveal that Indian foods typically combine ingredients with flavor compounds that do not necessarily overlap.
What that basically translates into laymen’s terms is that the components of an Indian dish are starkly varied in their molecular compound structure with the result that the average flavor sharing in Indian foods is relatively less than found in other types of cuisines.
In a nutshell, the greater the flavor overlap between two ingredients, the less is their likelihood of being used together in the same Indian dish.
The study dissected more than 2000 traditional recipes down to their molecular level to reach this conclusion. Since the average Indian recipe uses at least seven ingredients, there is a heterogeneous assortment of flavors that make every dish in this cuisine so flavorful and delicious.
Likewise spices used Indian dishes also display a remarkable variety with everything ranging from tanginess and sweetness to slight bitterness combined in one to appease the taste buds to their potential. A typical Indian dish can assimilate multiple spices and herbs delivering results where conflicting flavors rub against each other.
For instance, if one of the ingredients happens to be cayenne pepper, then none of the others in the dish will have a similar taste. The same can be said of commonly used spices like garam masala, ginger, cilantro, or tamarind. Instead each of the spices is specifically placed in a recipe to mold its flavor so that it gives its own flavor compound.
On the other hand, Western cuisine is a stickler for putting ingredients together because they display a similar flavor profile as well as similar chemical makeup. According to Western cooking ideology, pairing together foods that have a similar compound structure brings coherence and unanimity to a dish and thus enhances its taste appeal.
Apparently, Indian cuisine reverses that doctrine completely- and not necessarily to a bad result.
So, if you have ever gotten the chance to read an Indian main dish recipe, just keep in mind that each one on the long list of ingredients, is a burst of flavor by itself bringing out a unique taste to deliver an intricate yet distinct meal choice.
On a footnote, just remember that given the conflicting nature of ingredients in Indian cuisine, sometimes it delivers worthwhile results to have opposites attract.
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