||The Muslims from western Asia brought their rich artistic and gastronomic culture
to India. This influence lasted for more than 400 years and is now part of the fabric of
Indian culinary culture.
two colliding cultures resulted in a magnificent cuisine called Muglai Cuisine.
The lamb kebabs were laced with spices, the rice pulaos of India were cooked with
meat and turned into wonderful biryanis, lamb and meat roasts were now
flavored with Indian herbs, spices and seasonings. Also, Indian dishes were
garnished with almonds, pistachios, cashews and raisins. India was also introduced to
leavened breads by the Muslims. At this time the tandoor was
created by the royal chefs. The Indian rotis and the leavened breads were merged
into Tandoori Naans. Meats were now marinated in yogurt and spices and
also cooked in tandoors. Both pork and beef were avoided to respect the traditions
of both cultures. The idea of concluding a meal with sweetmeats was introduced as
the Persian rulers loved sweets.
The great Muslim rulers brought their panache and elegance of living to India's
culinary scene. The idea of community dinning and lavish and extravagant banquets
were introduced to India. Dishes were served in jade, silver and Chinese porcelain.
The splendor of the Mughal/Muslim cuisine is reflected in the Muglai Cuisine of India
which is the richest and the most lavish in the country.
| THE SYMBOL OF MOTHER AND GOOD NATURE
||The cow is
considered sacred due to the following reasons.
1. The cow was regarded as ones mother as it sacrificed the milk meant for its
calf and provided milk for the people. It is therefore a symbol of a 'mother' in
2. The cow was also kept at many Indian homes for its milk and the animal became a
part of the family.
At the beginning of the Epic period (c.l000- 800 BC), cows meat was said to
be common food that added vigor not only to the body but also to the mind. A theory
suggests that during the 5th century it was discovered that the cattle
population was decreasing at an alarming rate. People began to realize that a live cow was
a greater asset than its meat.
4. Ghee (clarified butter), milk and yogurt were vital for temple rituals, this
animal began to enjoy a greater value alive.
5. In the Atharvaveda (vedic text) beef-eating was prohibited as it was likened to
committing a sin against one's ancestors.
6. Other factors that contributed to the rise of vegetarianism in India was that
kings such as Ashoka (c. 322-183 13C) discouraged the killing of animals. The powerful and
benevolent and popular Emperor Ashoka of that time popularized a vegetarian cuisine. Even
today a majority of Indians are vegetarian.
7. The two other individuals that helped make India vegetarian are Mahavir and
Buddha who were India's greatest spiritual teachers. (Also the ancient, urban Dravidian
civilization may have been vegetarian.)
This was the start of the taboo of eating beef in India.
Atharva veda also classified foods into sattavic, rajasic and
tamasic taking the philosophy of vegetarianism many steps further. In this system meats
were classified as spent energy along with overeating and over-ripe food and these foods
were discouraged as they did not contribute to the whole being which included mind, body
This value of eating for mind, body and soul made
its way beyond the Vindhya Mountains of Central India establishing itself more firmly in
the south of India that the North of India. Here, it gained immense popularity even
amongst the non-Brahmins who deemed it as leading a meritorious lifestyle. Thus
vegetarianism became more linked with the cuisines of southern India. The south of India
went on to develop a complex, rich and intricate vegetarian cuisine which is very unique
and complex yet pure and simple.
However not all Brahmins (learned men) of India became vegetarian. A classic example would
be the Kashmiri Brahmins who continue to pride themselves on their mutton and chicken
dishes. There are also the Brahmins of Bengal who eat fish.
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