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Indian cuisine encompasses 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. Indian food is also heavily influenced by religious and cultural choices and traditions.
The development of these cuisines have been shaped by religious beliefs, and in particular by vegetarianism, which continues to grow as a 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.
Historical incidents such as foreign invasions, trade relations and colonialism have also played a role in introducing certain foods to the country. For instance, the potato, a staple of the Indian diet, was brought to India by the Portuguese, who also introduced chillies and breadfruit. Indian cuisine has also shaped the history of international relations; the spice trade between India and Europe is often cited by historians as the primary catalyst for Europe’s Age of Discovery. Spices were bought from India and traded around Europe and Asia. It has also influenced other cuisines across the world, especially those from Southeast Asia, the British Isles, and the Caribbean.
Indian cuisine reflects a 5,000-year history of various groups and cultures interacting with the subcontinent, leading to diversity of flavours and regional cuisines found in modern-day India. Later, Mughal, British and Portuguese influence added to the already diverse Indian cuisine.