All those food lovers out there, do you guys actually know the origin of those dishes you love to consume at regular intervals or maybe special occasions? These dishes might be a part of your breakfast meal. Some of these origins might even surprise you! There are many fun stories and facts about these dishes listed down here. Trust me when I say food also has its own intriguing history. This is going to a fun lane down history loaded with facts!
The Idli that we know today is made of rice, by fermenting the batter and then steaming it. The first mention of idli was in the 10th century in Kannada writing, however, it was referred to as Iddalige or Iddariga. Back then idli batter was made of black gram flour, spices, and curd which is now called Udinina Idli. The recipe we today make with just the fermentation of batter and steaming the idli which is way simpler was actually originated in Indonesia. This recipe was adopted by us Indians only by the 13th century which is like 300 years later.
Fun Fact: Sambar was actually invented or discovered by a Maharashtrian king and he named it after him. He was none other than Sambhaji. While having Amti, a Maharashtrian recipe, Sambhaji decided to change its original recipe and add or remove few things. The original recipe has moong dal and Koman juice; so he decided to replace it with toor dal and tamarind juice.
2. French Fries
Those crunchy salted, lip-smacking french fries are not from France you all. Believe it or not, it’s actually from Belgium. Potatoes were first cultivated in Peru, around 8000 – 5000 B.C. Originally, in Belgium, villagers in the village Muse used to fry small fishes, however, during winters the lake was frozen and they couldn’t get any fish, so they turned towards potatoes and cooked them the same way. This is what Belgium claims to have done and they are the ones who came up with the idea of fries. During the world war, American soldiers tried this Belgium dish. Southern Belgium area speaks French so the soldiers decided to name it French Fries. While Belgium claims all of this, France has its take on the story. They claim that french fries were sold in the streets of France way earlier in 1789. However, we all do love the french fries no matter where they come from. It was a great creation and we all do love it!
3. Gulab Jamun
Theory 1: Rumour has it that Gulab Jamun was accidentally prepared by one of Shah Jahan’s royal chefs who took inspiration from Turkish/Persian and the local sweet vendors. Turkish tulumba and Persian bamieh are pretty similar to our Gulab Jamun. Gulab comes from the Persian word for rose, while Jamun refers to the fruit.
Theory 2: Luqmat al qadi, a popular Arabic dessert which is a deep-fried dough ball dipped in honey and sprinkled with sugar. Sounds familiar?
4. Daal Baat
We Indians love Daal Baat which roughly translates to Rice With Lentils to be precise, here in India we prepare Dal with various types of Dal. Daal Chawal is considered as the staple food for most of the living in this country, however, not many people know that this dish that we all adore is not born in India. Its origin is Nepal. There are various add ons with this daal baat in Nepal and they absolutely love this dish.
5. Fortune Cookies
Fortune cookies were invented in Japan and brought to America by Japanese immigrants! . Many say it’s from China or Japan or even California. In reality, these cookies are actually from Japan. There are many theories so as to how these fortune cookies spread across the world.
Theory: After World War 2, these fortune cookies were served exclusively in Chinese restaurants in California and since then they spread across Europe and South America. There was a large production of fortune cookies by the Chinese as many of the Japanese bakeries and restaurants were shut down.
Fun Fact: The original fortune cookies were much bigger in size and darker in color.
6. Chicken Tikka Masala
Yup! That’s right Chicken Tikka Masala is not Indian. It is actually British. People there don’t even call it Chicken tikka masala, its CTM. To be exact, it’s origin is from Glasgow, Scotland. A Bengali immigrant, Ali Ahmad Aslam who owns the Shish Mahal restaurant is the reason why we have this amazing CTM today. Apparently, a customer sent back his order saying it was too dry so Ali decided to add a few spices with tomato soup and yogurt to add a desi twist to the dish. Yet, there are still other claims to the origins of this dish. Many say that it was first made in the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi or by a chef from Bangladesh.
Jalebi, the sweet dish, and its name, they both are not Indian. The name Jalebi is derived from an Arabic word Zulabiya. The first mention of jalebi is in the Kitab-Al-Takeeh, a recipe book in the Middle East. As the traders came to India, they served this dish and the Indians loved it. Later in many ancient Indian books, jalebis are often mentioned to be consumed by the rich people and later the commoners adopted it as a sweet dish to be had during festivals.
Fun Fact: It’s also a cure for the common cold in most of the northern regions of India.
Rajma or kidney beans did not originate from India. They were first produced and cultivated in Mexico. Later they were brought to India via trade. We should be thankful to the north Indians who are responsible for the invention of Rajma curry which is widely consumed by Indians. We absolutely do love Rajma Chawal!
Samosa didn’t originally always have potato filling. They first had meat fillings when they were introduced by the Arab invaders who initially called it sambusak, which is still prepared in the Middle Eastern, Arabian countries. Now that we think about it, it’s hard to imagine a samosa without any potato filling.
10. Cesar Salad
The origin of this salad which is famous worldwide is Mexico. It was invented in 1924 by the restaurant owner Caser Cardini who made up this recipe within minutes as he wanted to create something new and unique which ended up being the world’s most liked salad. This was a completely improvised last-minute dish.
11. French Toast
French Toast isn’t from France, it’s actually from the Roman empire. In France, it is called “pain perdu,” meaning “lost bread.” Lost bread because it’s made from stale bread which was supposed to be thrown away if not consumed. Apparently, Joseph French invented French Toast in 1724 and advertised it as “French Toast”; it was a grammatical error that he forgot the apostrophe.
12. Spaghetti and Meatballs
Isn’t pasta Italian and so does spaghetti come under pasta and is supposed to be Italian too? Confused? Spaghetti and Meatballs is a dish that is consumed widely in the US and originated there. This recipe was made by the Italians who migrated to America and spaghetti was the only Italian ingredient available back then. The Italian chef completely improvised the dish and later added meatballs with gravy to it and it was a big hit!
Fun Fact: You won’t be surprised if many Restaurants in Italy don’t serve Spaghetti and meatballs, even if they do, it’s just to satisfy the tourists.
Naan originated from Persia. It was first recorded by an Indo-Persian poet Amir Kushrau, dating back to 1300 AD. Naan actually means just bread. Later, it was made in a way that could be used to consume during lunch and dinner times.
The first thing that pops to your mind when someone says croissant is that it’s probably French. Nope, it’s not, it’s from Vienna, Austria. To celebrate the defeat of the Turkish army, the bakers decided to make a pastry in the form of a crescent moon which is the symbol in the Turkish flag. For Austrians, it symbolized eating their enemy.
Apparently, Biryani was invented by a queen of the Mughal empire. She was very smart and took care of people. She once accompanied the king on rounds and saw the poor soldiers tired and weak. She soon realized it was the food that caused all of this. She then went to the food headquarters and came up with a dish that had all the required nutrients a person needs to stay healthy. In an eastern pot, she placed rice in the bottom, vegetables, and meat in the middle and again a layer of rice and topped it with nuts and cooked it all. Thus this how biryani was invented.
FunFact: This queen was none other than Mumtaz Mahal.