Indian cuisine consists of a variety of regional and traditional cuisines native to the Indian subcontinent. Given the diversity in soil, climate, culture, ethnic groups, and occupations, these cuisines vary substantially and use locally available spices, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Indian food is also heavily influenced by religion, in particular Hinduism, cultural choices and traditions. Centuries of Islamic rule, particularly by the Mughals, also introduced dishes like samosa and pilaf.
Historical events such as invasions, trade relations, and colonialism have played a role in introducing certain foods to this country. The Columbian discovery of the New World brought a number of new vegetables and fruit to India. A number of these such as the potato, tomatoes, chillies, peanuts, and Guava have become staples in many regions of India. Indian cuisine has shaped the history of international relations; the spice trade between India and Europe was the primary catalyst for Europe’s Age of Discovery. Spices were bought from India and traded around Europe and Asia. Indian cuisine has influenced other cuisines across the world, especially those from Europe (especially Britain), the Middle East, Southern African, East Africa, Southeast Asia, North America, Mauritius, Fiji, Oceania, and the Caribbean.
Indian food cuisine reflects an 8,000-year history of various groups and cultures interacting with the Indian subcontinent, leading to diversity of flavours and regional cuisines found in modern-day India. Later, trade with British and Portuguese influence added to the already diverse Indian cuisine.
Early diet in India mainly consisted of legumes, vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products, and honey. Staple foods eaten today include a variety of lentils (dal), whole-wheat flour (aṭṭa), rice, and pearl millet (bājra), which has been cultivated in the Indian subcontinent since 6200 BCE. Over time, segments of the population embraced vegetarianism during the Śramaṇa movement while an equitable climate permitted a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains to be grown throughout the year. A food classification system that categorised any item as saatvic, raajsic, or taamsic developed in Yoga tradition. The Bhagavad Gita proscribes certain dietary practices (chapter 17, verses 8–10). Consumption of beef is taboo, due to cows being considered sacred in Hinduism. Beef is generally not eaten by Hindus in India except for Kerala, parts of southern Tamil Nadu and the north east.