Of all the ethnic cuisines in the world, Indian food is undoubtedly one of the most beloved. There's something so comforting about the warm, spicy curries and doughy naan the country is known for making.
If you can't quite pinpoint the reason for your Indian food addiction, however, science can.
After analyzing the recipes for more than 2,000 popular Indian dishes, food researchers at the Indian Institute for Technology Jodhpur discovered something that may explain why the cuisine is so intoxicating, and it has to do with the flavor profiles of ingredients used.
In traditional Western cooking, chefs tend to use ingredients that share similar flavorings -- ones that complement each other, if you will.
Indian dishes, on the other hand, do just the opposite. Of the 2,000 recipes studied, all sourced from TarlaDalal.com — which contained a total of 200 ingredients overall — the researchers “found that average flavor sharing in Indian cuisine was significantly lesser than expected.”
The more similar two ingredients are, therefore, the less likely they are to be used in the same dish.
Additionally, the researchers note some of the most-used ingredients in Indian cuisine — namely, cayenne, green bell pepper, coriander and garam masala — share flavor profiles with very few other ingredients.
The researchers concluded,
Each of the spices is uniquely placed in its recipe to shape the flavor sharing pattern with the rest of the ingredients.
So, what does this all mean?
While Western cuisines follow the “less is more” approach in regards to flavor profiles, Indian cuisine does just the opposite, preferring an “opposites attract” point of view.
And it works.