Ever thought of making Indian curries without tomatoes?
Have you ever wondered if the fruits and vegetables that you consume on a daily basis may not be native to India? You will be surprised to know that most of your everyday veggies were brought to the country through trade from around the world.
Mexico is one such country, which deserves to be celebrated, for the sheer number of vegetables and fruits it has given to the world. Here are some Mexican fruits and vegetables that have become an essential part of the Indian cuisine even before globalisation set in.
Tomatoes arrived in India during the 16th century with the Portuguese explorers. Today, tomato is an integral part of Indian cuisine that it is used to make almost every dish. The quintessential tomato base in the form of puree or masala has the power to elevate your dish from ordinary to extraordinary.
New findings suggest that corn was cultivated more than 7000 years ago in Mexico and is now the third most important crop in India. In Indian households, corn is used to make sweet corn chat, simple subzis, pakoras and even popcorn. In fact, cornflour makes for a great thickener for soups and curries.
Sapodilla / Chikoo
Sapodilla or as we Indians call it chikoo, originated in Yucatan and Southern Mexico. It was introduced to India about hundred odd years ago. According to reports, they were first planted at somewhere around Mumbai in 1898, and still it continues to flourish at Dahanu in Maharashtra. Sapodilla is said to be a tropical fruit crop, which is now widely used in India not just as a fruit but also in the form of milkshake, ice-creams, fruit chaats, custard and other puddings.
Avocado originated in Mexico and Central America, possibly from more than one wild species. It is a big pear shaped fruit with a stone, but is a berry actually. The early Spanish explorers recorded its cultivation from Mexico to Peru. Then avocado was introduced from Sri Lanka in the early 20th century. Now it is grown in a very limited scale and in a scattered way in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and Karnataka as well as in the eastern Himalayan states of Sikkim. Nowadays it is pretty common to find nachos with avocado dips, avocado sushi, avocado juice, milkshakes and smoothies across Mumbai.
Thank the Portuguese again, this native fruit of Mexico was brought by them to Goa in the 16th century. Guavas grow in India now and are extensively used in the making of juices, jams, puddings, milkshake, smoothies, ice-creams, fruit chaat and even Indian pickles and subzis! It can also be eaten straight with black salt and chaat masala.
The Portuguese also brought papaya to India from Malacca, which is originally native to Southern Mexico. In India, papaya is eaten both raw and riped. It is used for making curries, desserts, smoothies, milkshakes and ice-creams. Raw papaya is also used for making pickles and your all-time favourite tutti-frutti.
Sweet potato, a native of Mexico, is known as shakarkandi in India. It is roasted and sold on streets as a delicacy in North India. What’s surprising is that sweet potato was also brought by Portuguese to India in 17th century. North Indian homes have several sweet potato recipes such as chaat and even halwas.