Have you ever wondered what graced the people's palates in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization? Join us on a culinary journey back in time, as we go 5000 years into the past to uncover the culinary wonders our ancestors savored. What's even more interesting is that one of the dishes enjoyed by the ancient Indus Valley residents is still present in Indian kitchens today.
The revelation of this culinary treasure comes from a decade-old research led by Arunima Kashyap and her team. Their analysis of relics near a Harappan-era archaeological site at Farmana in Haryana provided valuable insights. The starch analysis focused on remnants found in long, narrow vessels, likely used for cooking, and on blades that once cut vegetables. The remnants included ingredients such as brinjal, mango, turmeric, ginger, garlic, sesame, and more. Interestingly, rice played a minor role in their diet, with a preference for healthy and climate-resistant millets.
This makes the brinjal-mango curry the oldest known curry to mankind. But, it would be a mistake to assume that this was the sole curry consumed by our ancestors. Archaeological sources are limited, and there is likely much more to the culinary history than what has been recovered and preserved.
To savour this flavour of the past, we attempted to recreate the 5000-year-old brinjal-mango curry. Our recipe included a couple of additions to what was mentioned above. One such addition was Saindha Namak or Pink/Rock Salt, mined from the salt mines in the Sindh region. Another element was sesame oil, probably the earliest edible oil known to Indians, as evidenced by traces found in the Farmana research.
In our attempt to stay true to the ancient recipe, we omitted ingredients like chillies, chilli powder, and tomatoes, which arrived in India only a few hundred years ago. Instead, we used pepper to add a spicy kick to the curry. The result? A delicious journey through time!
In conclusion, the story of the world's oldest curry is not just a gastronomic delight but a glimpse into the rich culinary history of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. As we savour the flavours of the past, let's stay curious about the untold stories and diverse dishes that might have graced the tables of our ancestors. Until next time, stay curious and keep exploring the flavours of history!