Indian cuisine has influenced many regions the world over with the exoticness of the food and the ingredients that go into its preparation. Indian cuisine is like experiencing many different countries in one plate from the Arabia deserts to affluent countries such as North America. Moroever, Indian cuisine has been influenced by several conquests and trading with many countries of the world. In ancient times, the Indian sub-continent was known for its richness in spices and its abundance of agricultural produce. The first foreign flavor was from the time that the Indians developed trade ties with the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians which gave India many species to add flavor which is now considered an essential part of Indian cuisine.
Saffron, known as the romantic spice has had the most influence on Indian cuisine because of the taste and aroma it creates in food. Now saffron is grown only in India and Spain and is included in most food preparations in these countries.
After the Greeks and Romans, Indian cuisine had another dramatic addition when Arab traders started trading with Indian states, especially in Kerala and Malabar. The Arabs brought coffee which is quite popular even today in South India. Arabs liked to drink their coffee black and without sugar, but this has been altered in India where it is drunk by adding milk and sugar.
The Arabs also introduced asafetida and pasta. More Arab influence was brought to the region with the spread of Islam when Christians fleeing from Arab armies sought refuge in Kerala. These Arabs were from regions such as Syria and they added many ingredients and recipes to the food in Kerala.
That is one reason that the food prepared and eaten in Kerala is different from the food consumed in other parts of India. Syrian Christian cuisines are highly flavored and contain a high concentration of fish, seafood, duck, lamb, and chicken which makes it different from other Indian cuisines which consist mainly of vegetables.
The next people who influenced Indian cuisine were the Mongols. They came from Central Asia and were of Turkish origin. They adopted some aspects of the Persian culture and they revolutionized food more than any other refugee or conqueror. The Mughal kings created a revolution in Indian cuisine.
They introduced exotic spicy dishes such as Biryani, and pulao, including food stuffed with meats, cream, butter sauces, dates, nuts, and sweets all were an integral part of Mughal cuisine. Eventually, these spicy, exotic dishes were converted into contemporary dishes such as korma and butter chicken dishes which all had distinct Indian flavors.