The only human sense that has a social connotation attached to it is “taste”.
Think of India and the most prominent thing that comes to your mind is Colors. Not many would know that spices and colors have been in a relationship in India from time immemorial. A relationship so deep that some of the colors derived from spices even got a Geo-tagged names like- Indian yellow and Indian Red. These colors are actually available today commercially even in Oil paints. Spices that are so famous not just for the taste but for the pure saturated hues are bound to make the cuisines that they are used in colorful as well.
Indian cuisines encompass a wide variety of regional cuisines native to India. Given the range of diversity in soil type, climate and occupations, these cuisines vary significantly from each other and use locally available spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits. The way vernacular architecture changes with topography, Indian food also is heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices and traditions of each region and community.
And the beauty of it is, even if you have 15 dishes served in your platter, all of them will stand strong individually with their taste. You wont ever get confused with the gravy.
Think about any Italian meal and compare it with a Rajasthani Thali, you will instantly understand how aesthetics work in Indian context by the elaborate use of garnishing, dry fruits, precious metal leafs, multiplicity of ingredients and what not.
Born and brought up in Rajasthan, I have always had a deep influence of the extravagant culture, architecture, heritage, dance forms, and off-course cuisines. One such dish- KER SANGHRI (also locally called as Pachkuta) which happens to be the state tree of Rajasthan, has always been my favorite dish. Prepared more like a pickle to savor taste for weeks without getting rancid, the taste of this cuisine is just to die for. But what amazes me the most is the idea of getting together these ingredients in the first place. What a genius culinary mind would have combined these tastes and aesthetics ?
The development of these cuisines has been shaped by Dharmic beliefs, and in particular by vegetarianism, which is a growing dietary trend in Indian society. There has also been Central Asian influence on North Indian cuisine from the years of Mughal rule. Indian cuisine has been and is still evolving, as a result of the nation’s cultural interactions with other societies.
But apart from these developments what majorly differentiates Indian food from rest of the world is its presentation and looks. It looks so attractive and well decorated as if it is calling you to have a taste of it. It is this characteristic that makes it so desirable. So, aesthetics play a major role here.
With its array of spices and condiments, and the individuality in every hand combining them makes the preparation and taste so adventurous that the same dish cooked in the multiplicity of cultures, geography, demographics will make you wonder the way spices adapt themselves with changing times and minds.
Think about it…