A new analysis of 2000 popular recipes has revealed why Indian food, coveted around the world for its intoxicating flavours and aromas, tastes so unique. The analysis indicates that the construction of flavours at a molecular level is radically different to that found in Western cuisine.
Food chemists have broken down flavours into precise chemical compounds that give of a distinct taste when combined. For example, one of the most simple of these compounds is acetal which is found in whiskey, apple juice, orange juice and raw beets, and is described as ‘pleasant’ and ‘refreshing’ with a ‘fruity green odor’. On average each food ingredients have over 50 flavour compounds. Chemistry students should look further into the different flavour compounds and how they are structured at a molecular level.
Scientific American created a chart on 2013 which shows foods which share the most flavour compounds with others. Some are fairly predictable, such as peanut butter and roasted peanuts, but others are more surprising. Strawberries, for instance, have more flavour compounds in common with white wine than apples or honey.
Western dishes are much more likely to contain ingredients that have overlapping flavour compounds, but this is where Asian food, and Indian food in particular differs radically. The Indian Institute of Technology broke down several thousand recipes to their ingredients and compared how often and heavily ingredients share flavour compounds. The result was that Indian dishes tend to mix ingredients whose flavours do not overlap at all, unlike in Western cuisine. They also found that spices usually indicate dishes with flavours that have no common chemical ground, particularly cayenne, coriander and garam masala. Geography students could consider the importance of location in sourcing ingredients and developing flavour combinations.
The researchers noted that ‘each of the spices is uniquely placed in its recipe to shape the flavour sharing pattern with the rest of the ingredients’. They concluded that a big part of the appeal of Indian food is the way flavours rub up against each other, in contrast to the combining of like flavours in Western cuisine.
Human Sciences and HSPS students might consider what this demonstrates about food and it’s variation as a key aspect of culture and community, while History students could look into further into the original development of Western and Indian cuisines, as well as their migration around the world.
- Modern Languages and Linguistics Reading Lists Applying for languages? It’s always difficult to narrow down what... Read more >
- The Differences Between Similar Courses At Oxford and Cambridge For some applicants, deciding between applying to Oxford or Cambridge... Read more >
- The Architecture of an Education: what are colleges all about? Explaining the difference between Oxford and Cambridge colleges and the... Read more >
- Interactive Interview Exercise Manual ‘What should I expect at my Oxbridge interview?’ ‘How will... Read more >
- Oxford and Cambridge Access Schemes Oxford and Cambridge aim to offer places to the best... Read more >
- Personal Statement Action Plan: Section 2 of 2 You’ve done your reading. You’ve made your brainstorm. You’ve possibly... Read more >
- International Applicant Handbook This incredible resource will guide you through every stage of... Read more >
- BMAT overview & tips If you’re applying for Medicine, Biomedical Sciences or Veterinary Medicine you... Read more >
- The Great Collection of Past Oxbridge Interview Questions The great thing about an Oxbridge interview is that it... Read more >
- Oxford college snapshots With 35 colleges and Permanent Private Halls, choosing how to... Read more >
- Law: answer like a pro Law is a notoriously competitive subject; this, along with the... Read more >
- Is a “Religious Morality” rational? One of our Oxbridge graduate tutors, Emma, looks into the... Read more >
- Using stats: dos and don’ts When making an application, you must be careful about using... Read more >
- Course By Course Fact Sheet This helpful guide sets out by course what grades you... Read more >
- Download a Biology Personal Statement “Assisting with the post mortem of a dairy cow during... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: The Age of Census A census-taker knocks on a door, and asks the woman... Read more >
- Sports psychology for interviews Channel your inner champion Major sports personalities use these techniques... Read more >
- How is the BMAT marked? The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is marked significantly differently from... Read more >
- The OA School’s Magazine: Issue 1 Last year, Oxbridge Applications launched its first ever Schools’ Magazine,... Read more >
- MLAT overview If you’re applying for Modern Languages, or their joint schools, you... Read more >
- Oxbridge: the global impact Concerning UK university admissions, UCAS have released some interesting stats.... Read more >
- June’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- US University Applications: How Decisions Are Made Article contributed by: Dr Jon Tabbert, US university admissions educational... Read more >
- Physical, Mathematical & Chemical Sciences Reading Lists If you’re applying for Physics, Natural Sciences (P), Maths, Computer... Read more >