5 ‘Indian’ Dishes That Originated In Foreign Lands

All that ‘desi’ food you devour do not have Indian roots. Some of them were brought to India, where they found food and got better!

India has a versatile palette. Each region has its culinary history to boast of and has been influenced by foreign lands and culture. Although we love our food and even when in a foreign land, long for a home-made food or an Indian restaurant in a few days of arrival, not all that we make here have originated here.

Here are a few ‘Indian’ dishes that were born in foreign lands and we have given them a beautiful home.


The most loved Indian snack, tiffin treat or a condiment for ginger tea has its room in ancient Persia where it was called ‘Sambosa’ until 10th Century. Samosa visited India in the 13th Century, stayed back and acquired a vegetarian get up!


The food every Punjabi swears by, the red legumes that have become a staple diet of Indians is a Latin American invention. Rajma is popular in Central Mexico and Guatemala. Its preparation also has Mexican influence like adding loads of tomato puree and cumin powder and red pepper powder for seasoning. Now you know why burritos need a rajma spread before veggies and rice are stacked inside it.


The South Indian staple breakfast that is now a go-to meal for every busy bee in a metro is an Indonesian dish. Historians believe idli was made accidentally from some steamed rice preparation and was first made by the cooks of kings who ruled in some parts of Indonesia.

Jalebi and Gulab Jamun

Both these India must-have festive desserts originated in ancient Persia at the kitchen of sultans and Badshah. The beloved golden brown dough balls sweetened in syrup got its name from Persian words 'gol' (flower) and 'ab' (water). On the other hand, jalebi the spiral sweet made from fermented besan and wheat flour was originally called 'Zalabiya' in Persian and Arabic.

Dal Chawal

Believe it or not, the humble steaming hot rice with lentil soup meal has come to up Nepal. Indian history talks about dal being as old as the Harappa civilization, even when rice and wheat were not here but the combination, dal chawal originates in Nepal. Dal Bhaat is such a hit combo in Nepal that it is the only meal mountaineers looking for Mt. Everest expedition are treated on. Nonetheless, there isn’t any Indian state that doesn’t have its version of dal chawal accompanied with sabzi, fry, pickle or curd.

Wheresoever has these mini-treats or comfort food originated, India has mastered the art of making them better by the day.