10 top facts about your favourite Indian foods

Indian food has been a longstanding staple of British culture. We’ve welcomed it into our homes and still today, we continue to flood the thousands of Indian restaurants across the country each day, just to get a taste of authentic Indian cuisine.

But how much do you actually know about one of the country’s most popular food choices? Here’s 10 amazing facts you might not have known:

1) India is commonly known as the 'Land of Spices'. There is no other country in the world which produces as many varieties of spices as India - which supply 70% of the world's spices.

2) With Hinduism being one of the predominant religions practised in India, between 20-40% of India's population are in fact vegetarian.

3) One of the UK's most beloved and popular dishes is the Chicken Tikka Masala. It makes up one in seven curries sold every day in the UK. But surprise - the Tikka Masala is not at all Indian! It was actually invented in Glasgow, Scotland in 1971.

4) The very first Indian restaurant is said to have opened in Britain in London in 1809. Now, there are more than 9000 Indian restaurants and curry houses across the UK!

5) Rice is the country's staple ingredient, and is eaten every single day. The most popular types of Indian rice across the country include ponni, which is often used in breakfast foods, basmati and patna, a long-grain rice similar in texture to basmati.

6) India is home to the bhut jolokia, which is one of the hottest chillies in the world. More popularly known as the "ghost chilli pepper", it grows in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur and is rated at over 1 million Scovile heat units! To put that into perspective, Tabasco pepper sauce measures at just 2-5,000 units on the Scovile scale - making the ghost chilli 400 times hotter!

7) All Indian food is categorised into six different tastes: sweet, salty, spicy, sour, bitter and astringent. A proper Indian meal is a perfect balance of all six flavours, with one or two flavours stealing the show, but never all flavours being used at the same time. So the next time you eat your meal, try and figure out what flavour balances you're tasting!

8) Before refined sugar was brought into India by Portuguese foreign traders, fruits and honey were mostly used in Indian cooking to provide a sweet taste to dishes.

9) The food system in India classifies food into three categories - Saatvic (fresh vegetables and juice), Raajsic (oily and spicy food) and Taamsic (meat and liquor). It is believed that Saatvic food leads the mind into a higher state of consciousness. Raajsic food is said to be the foundation of activity and motion and Taamsic food brings out negative feelings when eaten.

10) Staple ingredients of Indian cuisine such as tomatoes, potatoes and chillies don't actually have any Indian origin but were also brought to India by the Portuguese.

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