Home Uncategorized Scientists figure out why Indian cuisine tastes so delicious

Scientists figure out why Indian cuisine tastes so delicious

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur have come up
with a reason, according to science, for why Indian food tastes so
good. And strangely enough, it actually goes against the principle that
made British chef Heston Blumenthal so famous, known as ‘food pairing’. 

basis of food pairing is that foods, whether they’re sweet and savoury,
can work together in a recipe if they contain the same types of
flavours. So while white chocolate and caviar might not seem like the
best choice to throw toughener in a dish, Blumenthal tried it out with
the food pairing theory in mind, and it worked beautifully. Writing for The Guardian in 2002, Blumenthal said he went to his friend, François Benzi, who works for flavourings and perfumes company Firmenich, for answers.
“The response was that both the chocolate and caviar contain high levels of amines,” Blumenthal said.
“These are a group of proteins that have broken down from their amino
acid state but not so far as to become ammonia. Amines contribute to the
desirable flavours that we find in cooked meats and cheeses, among
other things.”
The same principle is at play in Blumenthal’s recipe for beetroot and green peppercorn jelly with mango and pine purée.
But when a team of Indian scientists specialising in biomedical text
mining examined the molecular structure of thousands of Indian recipes,
they found that the flavours in the ingredients most commonly used
together really didn’t match up at all. In fact, in some dishes, the
spices that make them what they are actually strengthened this ‘negative
food pairing’ effect. 
They looked at 2,543 dishes in eight
different sub-cuisines – Bengali, Gujarati, Jain, Maharashtrian,
Mughlai, Punjabi, Rajasthani and South Indian – and found that together
they contained a total of 194 unique ingredients, which they separated
into 15 categories: spice, vegetable, fruit, plant derivative, nut/seed,
cereal/crop, dairy, plant, pulse, herb, meat, fish/seafood, beverage,
animal product, and flower. While some dishes contained a whopping 40
different ingredients, the average number was seven.
The data
scientists then came up with a ‘flavour network’ to figure out which
ingredients were linked on a molecular level, and where they appear in
the different dishes. 

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The first thing they discovered was that
the cuisine as a whole was characterised by strong negative food pairing
– so the complete opposite of what Blumenthal is doing. “They also
found that specific ingredients dramatically effect food pairing,” MIT’s Technology Review reports.
“For example, the presence of cayenne pepper strongly biases the
flavour sharing pattern of Indian cuisine towards negative pairing.
Other ingredients that have a similar effect include green bell pepper,
coriander, garam masala, tamarind, ginger, cinnamon and so on.”
study reveals that spices occupy a unique position in the ingredient
composition of Indian cuisine and play a major role in defining its
characteristic profile,” the team writes in a pre-published version of their study on arXiv.org.
differentiating factor that could have made Indian cuisine so different
from other cuisines around the world is that some of the ingredients
began as medicinal, rather than flavor, additives. “We conclude that
the evolution of cooking driven by medicinal beliefs would have left its
signature on traditional Indian recipes,” the researchers say.
Not that we need science to tell us that Indian food is amazing, but it’s always fun when it does.


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