One unique aspect of Indian culture is its desire to innovate in culinary.

Tomato was first introduced to India in the 16th century. Now, it is an integral part of Indian cooking and is used in ways most others cultures won’t.

Tea was first introduced to India in the 18th century. Now, Indian tea, known as masala tea in the west, is an aromatic milk-heavy version of its original form.

In the 1970s, Indians Indianized Coca-Cola by adding spices and making it stronger but less sweet in taste. Now, it is exported to the birthplace of Coca-Cola.

As the Indian economy opened up in 1991, the pizza entered and soon got spiced up. Now, that’s sold in the west as Desi pizza!

McDonald’s spiced up its burgers. Nestle spiced up its noodles. Frito-lays spiced chips to make Kurkure which is also exported to the Indian diaspora outside India. Kellogg’s failed to make cereals mainstream and is now forced to sell Upma!

In the meanwhile, Indians tinkered with and Indianized Chinese food to create a new cuisine known as Indo-Chinese in the west.

Similarly, Mayo became mainstream in the past 5 years or so. 100% eggless to avoid alienating the 40% lacto-vegetarian population. While I have no taste of original mayo to compare, I won’t be surprised that the Indian version has more kick.

Now, Falafel and Baklava are becoming mainstream. I’m sure that in about 5 years, I won’t be surprised that the Indian version would look completely spiced up (and of course always eggless) layered with cumin, cardamom, saffron, black pepper, etc. simultaneously!

I have yet to come across a culture that improvises foreign food that much. One reason might be that Indian taste buds are so accustomed to multi-layer tastes that single-flavor dishes have little chance of succeeding with an average Indian. Think about it the next time you eat gulab jamun, it is sweet, with a hard shell, soft inside, and the pricey ones contain cooked cardamom at their core. Now, compare this to a western cookie.