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Food & Beverages

6 Popular Desi Dishes That are Not Even Indian

By Trishi Dhingra

Updated - Feb. 1, 2022 3 min read

"Dil hai Hindustani"... aur cravings bhi? Well, you're not alone. We Indians take pride in our food. But did you know that the most popular desi delicacies like Rajma, naan, and samosa are not actually desi? True story!


Don't believe us? Check out the list. 


1. Samosa - Middle East

Deriving its roots from the 10th-century Middle East, samosa wasn't always an Indian go-to snack.


Image Courtesy: Restaurant Guru


Originally referred to as 'sambosa', this deep-fried savoury was a common staple of central Asian traders, who frequented India in the 14th century. 



2. Rajma - Mexico

Even though rajma-chawal is a favourite North Indian jodi, Rajma actually came from Mexico.


Image Courtesy: Soujanya Neekanti


To tell you the truth, we owe the phenomena of soaking and boiling kidney beans for other delicious preparations to Mexico. It was introduced to us by the Portuguese centuries ago, but we managed to colour it desi. *sighs*



3. Naan - Persia

Naan is a delicious flatbread variant that was never Indian. Introduced to the world by Persians, it came to India during the Mughal era.


Image Courtesy: King Arthur Baking


But since their rule was mostly confined to the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, naan enjoys its broad share of popularity in North India. 



4. Gulab Jamun - Persia

Native to another nation (in this case, Persia), gulab jamun DID NOT originate in India. And as shocking as it sounds, it's actually true.


Image Courtesy: Spice and Colour


This delightful dessert was originally called 'luqmat al qadi' and even today the name is derived from the Persian language: gul - flower and ab - water. And yet, we love it. 



5. Tea - China

If your day is rendered pointless without a hot cup of tea, you definitely want to know this.


Image Courtesy: iStock


Tea is as Indian as Chinese noodles! However, it wasn't the Chinese who introduced chai to us. In fact, Britishers brought tea to India in order to put an end to the tea monopolization by China. And we've been cultivating tea leaves since then. *wah Taj*



6. Jalebi - Middle East

As much as it pains us to say this, Indians weren't behind the creation of one of the most scrumptious desserts of all time.


Image Courtesy: iStock


Jalebi shares its lineage with samosa and other Middle Eastern grubs. Originally called 'zalabiya' in Arabic or the 'zalibiya' in Persian, jalebi was brought to India by the Persian invaders. Thank you, guys!



You can take these dishes out of India but cannot take Indian out of these dishes. 

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