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Ancient Indian Facts: Food

By Yona Williams    6/19/08

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When exploring the world of ancient India, you may want to consider the following article – which will allow you to learn a few facts concerning the type of food eaten throughout this locale in the past.

The earliest Indians (called the Harappans) dined on meals that primarily consisted of wheat, lentils, and rice? Sometimes, they supped on the meat of chickens, goats, sheep, cows, and pigs. It is believed that rice and chicken was a product of Thailand, while sheep and wheat originated in West Asia.

Early Indians would take some of their wheat and transformed it into soups and stews. They also made flat breads with it – called chapatis.

Despite popular belief, when explorers found their way to ancient India, the eating habits of the residents did not experience any changes.

The main foods eaten by Nomadic dwellers included fruits, meat, and fish. They also picked wild berries as part of their diet.

Around 300BC, the belief that animal sacrifices contributed to your karma spread, as more and more people felt that this practice could help them avoid a life of reincarnation. However, animal sacrifices soon became less popular. You started to see people eating less meat and a great deal of individuals embraced the life of a vegetarian.

During the ancient days of India, milk and milk products were quite popular.

Some of the most popular spices of today were cultivated in ancient India, as they were quite creative in locating a variety of flavors to enhance their meals and create an intoxicating aroma. Indian cuisine also made some spices rather popular, as cardamom, mace, and cinnamon served as basic addition to almost all of the dishes in the past. These particular spices were brought in from the South Sea islands at a rather early date.

With not much to work with – you probably wouldn’t have guessed that ancient Indian desserts were elaborate and were used to create an attractive centerpiece for banquets of wealthy citizens.

During the Gupta period (around 650 AD) – Hindus started to worship a Mother Goddess and since cows were sacred to this deity – Hindus started to forego the consumption of beef.

The Islamic conquests that took place around 1100 AD had an influence on the eating habits of Indians living in the north. The majority of people in India ceased the consumption of pork, as eating this type of meat was not allowed if you followed the Koran.

Over the years, an increasing amount of people ate goats, sheep, and chicken, but for the most part – India became full of vegetarians. Meat was typically eaten on rare occasions or not at all. Examples of vegetarian food that early Indians ate include wheat flatbreads (made with chickpeas), served with a vegetarian sauce and yogurt. Rice, yogurt, and vegetables were another popular combination. Indians would also consume spicy peppers to liven up their vegetable-based dishes.

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