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Photo via Flickr/TMAB2003/Tandoori Masala Chicken
Photo via Flickr/TMAB2003/Tandoori Masala Chicken

It’s lunchtime, and by the end of this, if you’re not hankering for some Indian food, there’s probably something wrong with you.

Researchers have figured out why Indian food is so delicious by using some hardcore science. And it’s pretty amazing.

According to this Washington Post article, researchers at the Indian Institute for Technology in Jodhpur examined more than 2,000 recipes and 200 ingredients to find out why Indian food is so unique and revered. It has to do with the flavors, and how those flavors are or are not paired, right down to the molecular level.

“Chefs in the West like to make dishes with ingredients that have overlapping flavors,” states the WaPo piece. “But not all cuisines adhere to the same rule. Many Asian cuisines have been shown to belie the trend by favoring dishes with ingredients that don’t overlap in flavor. And Indian food, in particular, is one of the most powerful counterexamples.”

The researchers broke each dish down to ingredients and compared how often and heavily those ingredients shared flavor compounds. What they found was the less often dishes “shared” flavor compounds, the more delicious they tended to be. “The unique makeup of Indian cuisine can be seen in some dishes more than others, and it seems to be tied to the use of specific ingredients,” they reported. “Spices usually indicate dishes with flavors that have no chemical common ground.”

The fact that most Indian food contains cayenne, the base of curries, helps. Cayenne, along with green bell peppers, coriander and garam masala, are “unlikely to have other ingredients that share similar flavors.” The average Indian dish contains at least seven ingredients, too.

Kind of blows your mind, right? A whole new idea and approach to the dimension of cooking.

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