Researchers say it’s the 'lack of overlapping flavours' that makes a curry taste so good. That explains why we need our weekly chicken tikka takeaway then.
If the friendly people at your local Indian takeaway know you better than your friends, then this is why.
Scientists in India have discovered exactly why Indian food tastes so good, and it’s all in the number of (or lack of) overlapping flavours in the ingredients.
The researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology in Jodhpur trawled through the Indian recipe database Tarla Dalal, examing 2,500 recipes in order to find out why classic dishes like chicken tikka masala or kulfi ice cream are so delicious.
Anipam Jaina, Rakhi N K, and Ganesh Bagler who conducted the study reported, “We found that average flavouring sharing in Indian cuisine was significantly less than expected.”
Western cuisine's philosophy of putting together similar flavours in dishes is completely reversed in Indian cuisine. In an average Indian dish, there are at least seven ingredients and most of these do not contain any overlapping flavours. In a curry, herbs and spices such as cayenne, coriander and garam masala tend to be paired with ingredients that have no chemical overlap with them, so that each herb or spice brings a unique component when incorporated into the dish.
In short: every spice and ingredient has a purpose.
The researchers added, “Each of the spices are uniquely placed in a recipe to shape the flavour-sharing pattern along with the rest of the ingredients, and each one is sensitive to replacement - even with other spices.”
See, it's not your fault. Science made you take that second helping.