Indian foods that aren’t really Indian – A thought that mustn’t have even occurred to you. We mean, how would it! We have been consuming all of it since our childhood, and our ancestors talk about it as it is our own.

Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to us until one afternoon, while scrolling Facebook we came across a Tea Fact that stated – Tea originated from China. And right there, in that shocking moment, we decided to do some more research which led us to this:

Chai – China

Image Credit: Mehul Sakhia

Yes, the refreshing beverage that almost everybody cherishes and sips on does not hold its roots to India. It is in China where tea was first discovered and used for medicinal purposes. Hence, they had umpteen of tea plantations that made them a monopoly back in the day. Knowing this, the Britishers stepped up and introduced tea to India by giving it to the tribals to cultivate and break China’s monopoly. And today, it is almost impossible for most of us Indians to imagine a day without tea! I’m sure many of you in Hong Kong know this already – but most people in India are amazed at this fact!


Samosa – Middle East

Ah, the lovely aloo (potato) stuffed snack, usually eaten along with a cup of Chai isn’t an Indian originated item either. Actually, it was brought over to India between the 13th & 14th century by the Central Asian Traders. Originally called sambosa’, the beloved savoury, thanks to India, is found in a variety of stuffings ranging from dry fruits to mutton.
First the staple beverage and now, a staple snack. Wait until you find out what’s next!


Rajma – Mexico

Image Credit: Times of India

Rajma chawal is one dish that can make any Indian’s day! But yet, it is not an authentic Indian dish. Red kidney beans came into the Indian subcontinent from Mexico. Today, it tops the list of staple food for North Indians. Especially the Punjabi community take their Rajma Masala very very seriously. Though it didn’t originate from India, but we made it our own!


Chicken Tikka Masala – Glasgow

Image Credit: Spar

One story that runs in the air for the Chicken Tikka states – Chef Ali Ahmed, owner of Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow happened to invent it. On one of the days, a customer returned the chicken curry complaining it was too dry. So the chef improvised it by adding the tomato soup that he had prepared for himself. And that my friend was the invention of Chicken Tikka Masala. At present this dish hits the menus of majority restaurants world over. Surprisingly, Robin Cook, British Foreign Secretary declared it as the ‘true British national dish’.


Dal Bhat – Nepal

Image Credit: Maunika Gowardhan

Now didn’t that almost come to you as a shock! Ditto.
A combination prepared almost daily in most Indian households does not even belong to India. Desirably enjoyed with the spicy, tangy mango pickle this dish entered India through the northern regions. And then, it just spread like wildfire across the country being adopted by one and all.


Biryani – Persia

Bryani- Indian Foods That Aren't Really Indian
Image Credit: Lurpak

None of the biryani stories reveals that our favourite-st Indian comfort food was invented by Indians. Sadly, it set foot in India through the Mughals and Arabs. The exact origin of biryani is Persia, and the current form of it modernised in royal kitchens of the Mughal Empire from 1526 to 1857 in India. We know you don’t have the heart to scroll further but, you might as well take the bullet all at once.


Gulab Jamun – Persia

Image Credit: BBC Food

A sweet dish that makes its way to almost every occasion does not belong to India either. Gulab Jamun has said to be derived from a fitter that was brought in by the Central Asian Turkic Invaders. It is also stated that one of our most loved sweet dishes was improvised of a Persian dish that included rose water syrup too. Half of the name is adopted from the Persian words ‘gol’ (flower) and ‘ab’ (water), and the remainder from an Indian fruit “Jamun” as it shares a similar shape and size.


Jalebi – Middle East

Image Credit: Times of India

Yes, we know it is darn hard to believe but, even Jalebi does not have its roots in India. It was brought into India by the Persian invaders. In actuality, this delight was from the Middle East where it was prepared in various ways. The original name of this famous sweet is ‘Zalabia’ in Arabic or ‘Zilabiya’ in Persian. Now that’s not hard to believe cause it almost sounds as Jalebi, doesn’t it?


Falooda – Persia

Image Credit: Flavouroma

This dessert came to India via Muslim Merchants that settled in India in the 16th and 17th century. The foundation of Falooda comes from a then famous Persian dessert Faloodeh. But, the current form of it was developed by the Mughal Empire in Medieval India.


Filter Coffee – Yemen

Image Credit: Mutaiya

Honestly, we left this for the end cause we did not want to push your buttons after Chai. Some would have even considered it criminal. Anyway, with the long list above, we are sure you can handle this now. Filter coffee is a masterpiece of South India but, it originally is from Yemen. It was Baba Budan, a Sufi saint, who introduced it to India. He found it while on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Wanting to share his miraculous discovery with his people, he brought seven coffee beans to India from Mocha, Yemen.


So, which one of these came as a shock to you? Share it with us in the comments below. We would love to know 😀

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