- Scientists studied the chemical compounds in 2,000 Indian dishes
- They found ingredients were teamed together that had no similarity
- This is in contrast to many Western dishes that tend to pair flavours
- Out of the 381 cooking ingredients in the world, Indian food uses 200
Ellie Zolfagharifard For Dailymail.com
15:37 EST, 4 March 2015
16:12 EST, 4 March 2015
With their intoxicating spices and complex flavours, Indian curries are enjoyed the world over.
Now, in an analysis of more than 2,000 recipes, scientists have discovered the secret behind curry’s popularity on a molecular level.
They claim that unlike Western dishes that tend to pair similar flavours together – such as beer and beef – Indian dishes use at least seven ingredients that do not contain overlapping flavours.
With their intoxicating spices and complex flavours, Indian curries are enjoyed the world over. Now, in an analysis of more than 2,000 popular recipes, scientists have discovered the secret behind curry’s popularity on a molecular level
Researchers at the Indian Institute for Technology in Delhi looked at how often overlapping flavour compounds were used in a dish’s ingredients.
They reviewed of recipes on TarlaDalal.com, studying the subtle molecular-level differences that distinguish the cuisine, according to a report in the Washington Post.
‘We found that average flavour sharing in Indian cuisine was significantly lesser than expected,’ researchers wrote.
The study found that ingredients such as garam masala and bell peppers are usually teamed up with other ingredients that have no chemical similarity.
Out of the 381 cooking ingredients in the world, the research team from that Indian food used 200 in their cuisine. ‘Each of the spices is uniquely placed in its recipe to shape the flavor sharing pattern with rest of the ingredients,’ the researchers said
This is in contrast to Western dishes that share like flavours. Chefs, for instance claim that seemingly incongruous ingredients, such as chocolate and blue cheese, can taste good together because they share similar compounds.
COULD CURRY BE USED TO BANISH BAD MEMORIES?
A spice commonly used in curry could help erase bad memories, according to a study.
Curcumin, a bright-yellow compound found in the root of the Indian spice turmeric, prevented new fear memories being stored in the brain, and also removed pre-existing fear memories, researchers found.
It is hoped that the findings will help develop treatments for people suffering with psychological disorders.
Psychologists from The City University of New York trained rats to become scared when they heard a particular sound. Scientists assumed the creatures were frightened when they froze.
Hours later, when the same sound was played to the rats, those who had been given ordinary food froze.
Yet the rats fed the curcumin-rich diet didn’t freeze, suggesting their fearful memories had been erased.
An example is acetal, which can be found in whiskey, apple juice, orange juice and raw beets. Strawberries, meanwhile, have flavour compounds that match white wine.
In Indian dishes, the more overlap two ingredients have in flavour, the less likely they are to appear in the same Indian dish, the scientists said.
Researchers believe this makes the dish more tasty as the ingredients each bring their own unique flavour to the dish, rather than simply blending in.
Out of the 381 cooking ingredients in the world, the research team from that Indian food uses 200 in their cuisine.
‘Each of the spices is uniquely placed in its recipe to shape the flavour sharing pattern with rest of the ingredients,’ the researchers said.
Previous research has found curry could actually be good for you, easing arthritis and even protecting people from Alzheimer’s.
Most curries contain turmeric, cumin, allspice, cardamon, ginger, garlic and capsicum – spices with strong anti-bacterial properties.
This is largely why they’re found in dishes from hot countries, where meat needs to be preserved.
Separate studies have found that garlic, cinnamon and cumin can destroy up to 80 per cent of meat-borne bacteria, while ginger can slow bacterial growth by 25 per cent.