(Last Updated on : 04/09/2013)
Religious Influence on Indian Food has spawned in generating diverse variety of food in various regions of the country. Indian cuisine reflects the culture and tradition of the country which comprises of countless landscapes, different languages, magnificent festivals and multi-ethnicity. Indian food is as diverse and wonderful as the colourful country itself. From the northern tip of Kashmir
to the southern state of Kerala
, and from the Western Ghats of Gujarat
in the east, India's food habits are as varied as the people of India. However, a particular pattern exists among all this diversity. The traditional religious Indian cuisine has also gained popularity across the globe. Religious influence on Indian food has bechanced due to the invaders, immigrations and intermingling of different people from the pre-British era. Moreover, the Mughal period has considerably influenced Indian cuisine. 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 is present with varying taboos and preferences, such as Hindus do not consume beef, Muslims do not eat pork but 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.
Influence of Hindu Religion
The main religious influence on Indian food is of the Hindu religion. The Hindu influence on Indian cuisine
is immense. The Hindus are mostly vegetarians for ethical reasons and this has influenced their cuisine and eating habits. They consume a vast range of different vegetables like tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach, green beans and potatoes etc to make different lavish dishes. They include several other vegetables like cluster beans, beetroot, eggplant, cucumber okra, and white radish. Brahmins are one of the highest castes in Hindu religion. They are strict vegetarians and do not consume meat, fish or egg. However, Brahmins of the eastern coastal regions are non vegetarians.
Influence of Muslim Religion
Another dominating religious influence on Indian food is by the Muslim community. The Muslim influence on Indian cuisine
contoured the Indian cuisine while offering it that desired shape with blessed aroma and flavour. The Muslim culture has introduced the lavish Mughlai cuisine to Indian culinary culture. Biryani, the rice-Pulao with the mixture of meat and several meat roasts and kebabs, flavoured with Indian herbs and spices are some of the famous dishes. Due to the Muslim influence on Indian food, these dishes are always served with almonds, pistachios cashews and raisins. Muslims introduced Semolina, Phirni, leavened breads and the famous Tandoor style of cooking. In Muslim cooking culture, meats can also be cooked in Tandoors marinating them in yogurt and spices.
Influence of Jain Religion
Apart from Hindu and Muslim religion, Jainism community also has religious influence on Indian food. The Jain influence on Indian cuisine
popularised the non-vegetarian items. In this community, people are influenced by the non-violence or ahimsa. Due to this they are strictly against consuming non-vegetarian food. They take the food that is not obtained by hurting any form of life, such as rice, lentils, wheat, oil seeds and beans, and plainly cultivated. They do not consume root vegetables, alcohol, honey and meat and also do not waste any food items. Basically their food concept is based on eating after sunrise in the morning and eating before sunset in the evening. They believe in fasting on certain days and offering food to poor people. They eat only those vegetables and fruits which become ripe on the tree.
Influence of Buddhist Religion
Moreover, Buddhism has also adequately influenced Indian cuisine. Followers of Buddhism are also generally vegetarians as they do not believe in hurting any form of life. But Buddhists, to some extent, do consume meat, but only if the animal has died out of natural causes and not hunted. Here also, vegetarian dishes reign supreme as a variety of specifically created cuisines have been developed, which are mostly inspired by the Tibetan culture. Various forms of soups, steamed and boiled vegetables and the most popular, Momos have greatly influenced the food habits of Indian people.
Influence of Christian Religion
Another important religious influence on Indian food is the Christian religion. Christian influence on Indian cuisine
offered the touch of contemporaneousness, which later reshaped Indian food style to a great extent. Soups, salads and grilled pork chops marinated in spices and chillies are the famous recipes among Indian Christians. Dishes like sausages, pudding, cutlets, roasted chicken and turkeys, baked foods and cakes, biscuits and jams are famous Christian food items. Alcoholic drinks such as whisky, wine etc and spicy tea were some of the major drinks came to existence in India due to this religion
Thus, Religious Influence on Indian Food has been profound and great and has resulted in the formation of a diverse range of cuisines and dishes. The magic of Indian cuisine lies not only in the taste and tang but in its diverse pattern which marks Indian cuisine as the motley of several traditions, as the potpourri of various religion.