In association with Zomato

We Indians are pretty warm-hearted. As a nation, we are very welcoming towards people from foreign lands, their cultures, and of course their food. In fact, over the years, we have adopted many foreign dishes and given them a beautiful home. These yummy treats have become such an important part of our lives, that we got a mini-heart attack when we found out that they were invented in foreign lands. 

Here are 7 famous Indian dishes you won’t believe didn’t originate in India.

1. Samosa

Busy Beta

Shocked right? But it’s true. India’s favourite snack and chai’s best friend originated in the Middle East and was called ‘Sambosa’ until the 10th century. In fact, Middle Eastern traders brought in the three cornered snack to India somewhere between the 13th and 14th century. The next time you’re having samosas, you know who to thank. 

2. Biryani 

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There are many stories on how and where Biryani was invented. One story goes that this delicacy originated in Persia and our word for it comes from the word ‘Birian’ which means rice. Honestly, we don’t care where it came from. We are just glad it exists. 

3. Idli 

The Spruce Eats

Surprising as it may sound, idli was first prepared by the Indonesians who called it Kedli. Later, cooks accompanying Indonesian Hindu kings introduced fermentation and steaming in India and abracadabra, we were gifted with the 2nd best breakfast ever. 

4. Gulab Jamun


Did you know our beloved golden brown khoya balls sweetened in syrup were also gifted to us by the Persians. The dessert got its first name ‘gulab’ from the Persian words ‘gol’ (flower) and ‘ab’ (water). And now you can’t find a single wedding in India where Gulab Jamun doesn’t sit happily in the dessert corner. 

5. Jalebi 


Don’t blame us if you develop trust issues after reading this. But our very own Jalebi is also not Indian. Our hot and crispy friend was founded in the Middle East. It was originally called ‘Zalabiya’ in Persian and Arabic. Generally made with all purpose flour in India, the orange spiral sweet is also made with wheat and besan in certain parts of the world.  

6. Tandoori Chicken

Rasoi Menu

If you cut up a Punjabi, you’ll find that half of their heart is just tandoori chicken. Tandoori Chicken what I’d like to call the “National Dish of West Delhi”. But did you know that the way we know this famous dish today, wasn’t first seen in India, but in the restaurants of our neighbour Pakistan. Tandoori Chicken was made what it is by Kundan Lal Jaggi, Thakur Dass, and Kundan Lal Gujral at Moti Mahal in Peshawar. In fact it was Kundal Lal Gujral who came later came to Delhi and invented a new dish — Butter Chicken — the other half of the average Punjabi heart.

Indian dish or not, we are eternally grateful to history for bringing these mouth watering delicacies into our lives. And if you’re still interested in fascinating stories about Indian food, you should check out the trailer for this new food adventure show Eat Like A Girl.

 And if you want to watch the full episode, click here to catch it on the Zomato app.