11 Things You Might Not Know About Indian Food

Last Updated on Feb 24, 2024 by HappyDieter

Think you know all about Indian food? Think again! Get ready to uncover some fascinating facts that might surprise you. From unique regional specialties to ancient cooking techniques, Indian cuisine is a treasure trove of culinary wonders, flavors, and a vegetarian diet waiting to be explored.

In this listicle, we’ll delve into the lesser-known aspects of Indian food flavors that will leave your taste buds tingling and your mind buzzing with newfound knowledge. Discover the secrets behind popular dishes, learn about the diverse influences that shape India’s culinary landscape, explore the flavors, and get ready for a gastronomic adventure like no other.

Scroll down for reviews of our top picks and prepare to embark on a flavorful journey through the vibrant world of Indian cuisine.

Key Takeaways

  • Indian food is not always spicy; many flavorful dishes are mild.

  • Not all Indian dishes are unhealthy; there are plenty of nutritious options to explore.

  • Curry powder is a blend of various spices, not a single spice itself.

  • The essence of Indian cuisine lies in the diverse use of spices, not just curry powder.

  • While rice is widely consumed in India, it is native to Thailand.

  • India’s reputation as the ‘land of spices’ showcases the country’s rich spice culture.

11 Things You Might Not Know About Indian Food

1. Not all Indian meals are hot

Indian cuisine is renowned for its diverse flavors, ranging from mild to fiery. Contrary to popular belief, not all Indian dishes are overwhelmingly spicy. Many traditional Indian recipes offer a harmonious blend of spices that cater to various taste preferences.

The beauty of Indian food lies in its versatility; the level of heat can be customized based on individual liking. For those who prefer milder flavors, there are plenty of options available that showcase the rich and aromatic side of Indian cooking without the intense blow of spiciness.

When delving into things you might not know about Indian food, exploring the spectrum of Indian cuisine reveals a treasure trove of delicacies that go beyond just heat. Dishes like butter chicken, biryani, or dosas exemplify how flavor complexity takes precedence over sheer spiciness in many beloved Indian meals. This exploration uncovers the depth and diversity inherent in Indian cuisine.

2. Not all Indian meals are high in fat and unhealthy

Indian cuisine offers a wide array of healthy choices, including lentils, vegetables, and grilled meats. These options provide essential nutrients without excessive unhealthy fats. Traditional Indian cooking techniques like steaming and grilling are prevalent in recipes, promoting healthier meal preparations.

Balanced Indian meals can be a part of a nutritious diet due to the incorporation of various food groups such as whole grains, proteins from legumes or lean meats, and an assortment of colorful vegetables. This diversity ensures that individuals receive a range of vitamins and minerals necessary for overall well-being.

In the context of things you might not know about Indian food, it’s important to note that not all dishes are heavy or greasy; many traditional recipes focus on lightness and freshness. By incorporating these lighter options into your diet along with moderation in portion sizes, you can enjoy the flavors of India while maintaining a balanced approach to eating. This is a lesser-known aspect of Indian cuisine that emphasizes health and balance.

3. Curry powder is not a single spice

Curry powder is a complex blend of spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and more. These spices come together to create the vibrant flavors found in Indian curries. Each region in India has its distinct variation of curry powder, showcasing the diversity of Indian cuisine through unique spice combinations.

The beauty of curry powder lies in how these different spices interact to produce rich and aromatic dishes. Turmeric adds that signature golden hue while cumin brings warmth and depth to the flavor profile. Coriander contributes citrusy notes, enhancing the overall taste experience.

Exploring the world of Indian cuisine unveils a tapestry of flavors woven by these diverse spice blends. From the fiery red curries of South India to the milder creamy curries from North India, each dish tells a story through its carefully crafted combination of spices.

Next time you savor an Indian curry, remember that behind every spoonful is a harmonious marriage of various spices working together to create a symphony for your taste buds.

4. Curry powder is not the main ingredient in Indian cuisine

Freshly ground spices and herbs take center stage in most Indian recipes, overshadowing the common misconception that curry powder is a staple. These authentic spices are carefully combined to create rich and aromatic flavors that define Indian cuisine.

The intricate blend of various spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala contributes to the complexity and depth of taste found in traditional Indian dishes. Each spice adds its unique essence to the overall flavor profile, making every bite a delightful experience.

Unlike store-bought curry powder with a fixed combination of spices, Indian cooks often customize their spice blends based on regional traditions or personal preferences. This customization allows for a diverse range of flavors across different parts of India.

5. Rice is native to Thailand

Contrary to popular belief, rice cultivation originated in Thailand rather than India. However, rice has been an integral part of Indian cuisine for centuries. India boasts diverse varieties of rice that are widely consumed across the country.

  • The different types of Indian rice include Basmati, Jasmine, and Sona Masoori.

  • Rice is a staple food in many Indian households and is often served alongside various curries and dishes.

Rice plays a crucial role in various Indian festivals and traditions. For instance:

  • During weddings in South India, it’s common to see “talambralu,” where couples exchange garlands made from sacred grains of rice.

India isn’t just a consumer but also a significant producer of rice:

  • It stands as one of the top producers globally, showcasing the importance of this crop within the country’s agricultural landscape.

6. India is also known as ‘land of spices’

India has been a major hub for spice trade since ancient times. The country’s diverse climate and soil conditions make it ideal for cultivating various spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and more. These aromatic spices not only enhance the flavors of Indian dishes but also offer numerous health benefits due to their rich antioxidant properties.

The use of spices in Indian cuisine is deeply rooted in tradition. Each region within the country boasts its unique blend of spices that contribute to the richness and complexity of Indian dishes. Spices are not just added for flavor; they are believed to have medicinal properties and play a crucial role in balancing the body’s energies according to Ayurvedic principles.

Indian culinary traditions incorporate a harmonious balance of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent flavors through the skillful use of various spices. This balance is not only about taste but also about achieving holistic well-being through food by promoting digestion and overall health.

The reputation of India as the ‘land of spices’ extends beyond its borders; Indian spices have made their way into kitchens worldwide, influencing global cuisines with their distinct flavors and aromas. The legacy of India’s spice trade continues to thrive today as these flavorful ingredients remain an integral part of both traditional Indian cooking and modern fusion cuisine.

7. Chicken tikka masala is not an Indian recipe

Chicken tikka masala, a beloved dish worldwide, actually originated in the United Kingdom. It’s a unique fusion that blends elements of both Indian and British culinary traditions. Despite its popularity and association with Indian cuisine, it is essential to note that chicken tikka masala is not a traditional Indian recipe.

This flavorful dish showcases the beautiful amalgamation of spices and cooking techniques from different cultures. Its creation story involves adapting flavors to suit British palates while incorporating Indian influences. The result is a rich, creamy tomato-based curry with tender pieces of marinated chicken—a true testament to cultural exchange through food.

While many people associate chicken tikka masala with India due to its use of traditional Indian spices like cumin and coriander, its roots lie in Glasgow or London rather than Delhi or Mumbai. This revelation sheds light on how dishes can evolve across borders and become global sensations without losing their essence.

8. In India, pepper is one of the most popular spices

Pepper has been an integral part of Indian cuisine for centuries, enhancing the taste profiles of various dishes with its unique flavor and aroma. Its presence in chutneys, curries, and spice blends showcases its versatility in Indian cooking.

India stands out as one of the leading producers and exporters of pepper worldwide. This underscores the significant role that pepper plays not only in local culinary traditions but also on a global scale. The demand for this spice continues to be robust due to its widespread usage across different cuisines.

The distinct spiciness and warmth that pepper impart to dishes make it a staple ingredient in many Indian households. It not only enhances flavors but also adds depth to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian preparations. The use of pepper reflects the rich culinary heritage ingrained in Indian food culture.

Pepper’s popularity transcends geographical boundaries; it has become synonymous with Indian cuisine globally. Its presence in popular dishes like potato masala, sambar (a lentil-based stew), or even simple dal (lentil curry) highlights its importance as a quintessential spice in everyday meals.

9. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world

Saffron, known as “red gold,” is highly prized for its vibrant color and unique flavor. The distinct taste it imparts to dishes makes it a sought-after ingredient in various cuisines worldwide.

It takes thousands of saffron flowers to produce a small amount of saffron threads. This labor-intensive process contributes significantly to its high price tag.

The cultivation and harvesting process makes saffron one of the costliest spices globally. The delicate nature of saffron flowers necessitates handpicking, further adding to the spice’s exclusivity and expense.

In Indian cuisine, saffron is commonly used in dishes like biryanis, desserts such as kheer (rice pudding), and beverages like masala chai. Its aromatic essence elevates these culinary creations with a luxurious touch.

In the context of things you might not know about Indian food, saffron’s rich history dates back centuries. It was revered for both culinary and medicinal purposes across ancient civilizations. Today, its scarcity continues to drive up its value, making it a symbol of luxury in gastronomy. This is just one of the many fascinating aspects of Indian cuisine that often go unnoticed.

10. Turmeric goes well in any dish

Turmeric is a staple ingredient in Indian cooking, known for its vibrant color and earthy taste. This versatile spice can elevate the flavors of various dishes like curries, rice, soups, and even beverages. Its culinary uses extend beyond just adding flavor; turmeric also boasts medicinal properties.

  • Culinary Versatility: Turmeric can be used in a wide range of dishes due to its ability to complement both savory and sweet flavors.

  • Health Benefits: Apart from enhancing the taste of food, turmeric contains curcumin, a compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may benefit health.

  • Traditional Practices: In Indian cuisine, turmeric is not only valued for its flavor but also for its cultural significance. It has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

11. Kulfi is the most popular Indian ice cream

Kulfi, a beloved frozen dessert in India, stands out for its rich and creamy taste. Unlike conventional ice cream, kulfi boasts a denser texture that results from simmering milk until it reduces significantly.

The process of making kulfi involves infusing flavors like cardamom, saffron, or pistachios into the condensed milk before freezing it. This traditional method gives kulfi its distinctive taste and aroma that sets it apart from regular ice creams.

One fascinating aspect of kulfi is its historical significance; it dates back centuries and has been enjoyed by generations as a luxurious treat during special occasions or hot summer days. The popularity of kulfi extends beyond India’s borders, with many people worldwide savoring this unique dessert.

Moreover, due to its dense composition and slow-churned preparation method, kulfi tends to melt at a slower rate than typical ice cream varieties. This attribute makes it an ideal choice for enjoying leisurely desserts without worrying about rapid melting on warm days.

In essence, indulging in a serving of kulfi not only offers a delightful sensory experience but also provides insight into the rich culinary heritage of India through one delicious scoop.


In exploring the things you might not know about Indian food, you’ve uncovered these surprising facts about Indian cuisine. You realize it’s not just aboutspicy dishes or heavy curries. The diversity of flavors and therich history behind each spice reveal that Indian food is a journey through culture and tradition. Remember, not all Indian meals will set your taste buds on fire, and there’s more to it than just curry powder. As you savor the next bite of Indian delicacies, appreciate theintricate blend of spices that make each dish unique. This exploration truly illuminates the lesser-known aspects of Indian food.

So, the next time you savor a dish of Indian cuisine, bear in mind the tales concealed within each spice and ingredient. Delve into the expansive universe of tastes that go beyond the obvious, and welcome the gastronomic journey that Indian food presents. As you embark on this flavorful exploration through the ‘land of spices’, let your palate guide you and uncover the things you might not know about Indian food. Enjoy the adventure!


What makes Indian cuisine unique compared to other cuisines?

Indian cuisine stands out for its diverse flavors, spices, and cooking techniques. It offers a wide variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that cater to different tastes and preferences.

Are all Indian meals spicy?

Contrary to popular belief, not all Indian meals are spicy. The level of spiciness can vary based on the region and individual preferences. Many dishes offer a perfect balance of flavors without being overly spicy.

Is curry powder an essential ingredient in Indian cooking?

While curry powder is commonly associated with Indian cuisine in the West, it’s not a staple in traditional Indian cooking. Instead, Indians use a mix of whole or ground spices to create flavorful dishes tailored to specific recipes.

Why is turmeric widely used in Indian dishes?

Turmeric is a versatile spice that adds color and flavor to various Indian dishes. It also boasts health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory properties, making it a popular choice for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

Which dessert is considered the most popular ice cream in India?

Kulfi holds the title of the most beloved ice cream in India. This frozen dairy dessert comes in various flavors like pistachio, mango, rose, and cardamom, offering a delightful treat enjoyed by many across the country.