Religious and Foreign Influences of Indian Food
India’s culture and religious beliefs play an important part in the development of the Indian cuisine. Vegetarianism is commonly practiced in many Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu communities. Over 80% of Indians follow the Hindu religion and its offshoots such as Jainism. Hinduism prescribes respect for life forms and has contributed to the prevalence of vegetarianism in India especially in the North. One of the main impacts on cuisine is that the main source of protein is lentils and beans as opposed to meat and fish. Cows are sacred to Hindus, milk and milk products such as vegan cottage cheese, curd, and sweets made of milk solid parts are considered auspicious and are part of the cuisine.
In 1194 AD, when the Muslim rule became established in India, Islamic influences began to reflect the cuisine. The use of meat and fish was the main difference from the Hindu cuisine. Central and West Asian cooking techniques and ingredients came about such as dates, nuts, rice, and grilling of meat into kebabs. Muslim rulers were famous for their lavish courts, great gourmets, and meal rituals and many dishes are now a part of today’s Indian heritage. The Christian tradition is as old as Christianity itself. Like the Muslims, Christians are fish and meat eaters also but developed their own cooking techniques over time. Christians have no restrictions on meat eating unlike Muslims they are prohibited from eating Pork and Hindus are Vegan.