The Origin Stories of Some of India’s Most Famous Dishes

The History of Indian Cuisines


India is famous for its diversity. Either its variety of cultures, music, fashion, or food, the diversity remains. Yet, it merges. We Indians are diverse but still somehow compatible with each other. The same goes for Indian’s food choices. Some of them like the sweet, some favor spicy. No matter what, the love for food unites us all.

Food is our biggest guilty pleasure.

As a result of having this Cultural diversity, we get incredible variants of cuisines from different parts of India onto one plate. But, have you ever wondered, where are their origins? Or how they were made in the past? Or if they had any other version in the past, rather than the version that we are used to? No? Well, this post will make you think about it. Continue if you are interested to know. 


Biryani is a Hindustani word that was evolved from the Persian language, that was used in medieval India. Some theory states that it was executed from “Birinj” which means rice. While another theory states that the origin of this word is “Biryan” or “ Beriyan” which means “to fry” or “to roast”.

Historians said that the source of this mouthwatering dish is the royal kitchen of the Mughal kingdom, and is a combination of rice dishes from India and pilaf from Persia. While some restauranteur believed that the source of origin is Persia and was bought by Mughals to India.

Though the 16th Century Ain-i-Akbari did not differentiate between pulao and Biriyani, over time, the difference became prominent. The most popular and acceptable theory states that this dish was originated in the Mughal army. They cooked rice, chicken, and spice together to save time and work. With time, it evolved and became this version of biriyani. 


Who doesn’t love sweets, right? Especially if it is made with pure ghee. It is said that the origin of this recipe was the Gangetic plains of Bihar, 2000 years ago. It is famous in Puri, Odisha. This dish was mentioned in Manasollasa, an early 12th-century Sanskrit book written by the Kalyani Chalukya king Someshvara III. Legends has it was executed in the Maurya and Gupta era. It is made with wheat flour, Mawa, and oil. The pastry is either hard or soft and sweet. It is a very popular sweet and distributed during Chhat puja. 

Butter Chicken 

Cheesy Garlic Naan with Butter chicken, a lovely combo, isn’t it? But, do you know the source of origin of butter chicken or how they were first made in the past? The origin of this lovely dish is Moti, a restaurant in Old Delhi, by a man known as Kundan Lal Gujral. He made this dish with leftover chicken, tomato sauce, butter, and cream. The story says, one day a VIP guest visited late at night and order some chicken dish. But, the chef knew he doesn’t have many ingredients left. So, whatever he had, he made a dish with it. And, that is how, my friends, is the original butter chicken was made. 

Idli and Sambhar 

Be it Idli or Dosa, you simply can not eat it without sambhar. They complement each other. As per the theory of food historians, Idli was invented between 800-1200 A.D. It was first mentioned in ‘Vaddardhane’, where this dish was served to a Brahmachari by the lady of the house. But, the three main ingredients were not mentioned here.

The steaming and fermentation was not originated in India. In fact, the cooks who came with the Hindu kings from Indonesia, brought their steaming vessel and their dish kedli with them. While some other historian believes that the dish was executed in Arab and brought in India by them. 

As we already said, you cannot eat idli without sambhar. So, maybe, you’re thinking that it was invented with idli, right? But, no, this dish was made in the 18th century, in the kitchen of Thanjavur Marathas ruler Shahuji. The original dish contained Kokum as one of its main ingredients but due to the lack of it, tamarind pulp was used. This dish was named after Shivaji’s son Sambhaji. 


Paneer is one of the most popular ingredients in India, especially in vegetarian households. Whether its Palak Paneer, Shahi Paneer, or Paneer-Do-Pyaza, we all are in love with this creamy, tasty fluffball. But, do you know Paneer was invented accidentally? Yes! As the legends say, The Mongols were riding on horses, trying to find away. The horses were carrying milk in bags that were made by rawhide. The high temperature of deserts and rennet in leather converted the milk into paneer. The Mongol tasted it and loved it. As time passes by, the Mughals also came to love this dish and brought it to India. They cooked it with ghee, garam masala, and different type of spices. Interesting, isn’t it? 


Though Kebabs are popular in middle-east India, we all are in love with this mouthwatering dish. As per the legends, it was first invented in the Medieval era of Turkey. The soldiers cut the meat into small pieces and grilled it with their swords to stop wasting the meat. They are it with bread.

The term ‘Kebab’ was originated from the Arabic language, which means to burn or to char. Nowadays, kebab has different variants like shami kebab, Hara Bhara kebab, Reshmi kebab, Galouti kebab and made with different ingredients.

So, finding their origin is kind of tough. Some of them came from Pakistan, while some of them were invented in this India. The dish was first mentioned in Kysaa-i- Yusuf, a Turkish script in 1377.

So, now you know the origin of the most popular dishes in India. The stories are really interesting. So, what are you waiting for!? Grab your purse, along with some of your friends and astound them with these lovely legends and stories. Who knows, maybe one of you will get inspired and your name will be included in this list too! 


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