The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
5 Countries with the Most Similar Food to India
Indian food is renowned for its bold flavors and vibrant spices. From aromatic curries and tandoor-cooked specialties to an array of vegetarian options and delectable sweets, Indian food is a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation. Its food has significant variation from region to region due to the country’s great diversity. Four of the five countries with the most similar food to India border the Indian Ocean.
- Sri Lanka is an ethnically diverse island to the south of India. A majority of its population descended from Northern India, so these nations have deep demographic and cultural ties. The liberal use of spices and coconut milk is reminiscent of Indian cooking. Rice and curry are common ingredients in both their diets. However, Sri Lankan cuisine often has unique ingredients like goraka and curry leaves, giving it a distinct character.
- Bangladesh‘s cuisine closely mirrors that of India, particularly in the eastern states. The use of mustard oil, rice, and fish as staples is a common in both areas. Dishes like bhapa pitha (steamed rice cakes), panta bhat (fermented rice), and various fish curries exemplify their shared culinary heritage. The emphasis on balancing sweet, sour, and spicy flavors is another commonality between Indian and Bangladeshi cuisines.
- Qatar is an Arab country, but the majority of the people living there are immigrants from South Asia. In Qatar, there are many Indian restaurants, South Asian groceries, and street food stalls offering dishes that cater to the tastes of the large expatriate population. Dishes like biryani, kebabs, curries, and various types of bread are commonly enjoyed in both Qatar and India.
- Nepal is another country where the majority of the population is Hindu. Like Indians, many Nepalese adhere to a vegetarian diet. As a result, dishes without meat are abundant in their cuisine, making use of various grains, legumes, vegetables, and dairy products. The food in both countries features warm stews and curries, often prepared with a blend of earthy spices.
- Malaysia and India do not border each other, but Malaysia’s culinary landscape is peppered with Indian flavors due to centuries of trade and cultural exchange. Its cuisine is a fusion of Indian and local ingredients. Roti canai (a flaky flatbread), nasi kandar (rice served with a variety of curries), and banana leaf rice are examples of dishes that showcase the interplay of Indian and Malaysian culinary traditions.
5 Countries with the Least Similar Food to India
The five countries with the least similar food to India are primarily in two different locations: Sub-Saharan Africa and the South Pacific. The agriculture in these countries is significantly different, as staples ingredients like rice and wheat are more commonly grown in India.
- Micronesia is a group of small islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It relies heavily on seafood, tropical fruits, and root crops as a result. The country’s relative isolation has limited its exposure to foreign influences. Micronesian cuisine tends to focus more on the natural flavors of ingredients, with an emphasis on freshness and simplicity.
- South Sudan is a landlocked country in Africa. Cassava and sorghum are the staple foods in South Sudan. South Sudanese cuisine tends to be more rustic and hearty, while Indian cuisine is known for its delicate use of fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables.
- Central African Republic is a former French colony that is located in the middle of Africa. Cassava and yam are two of the most commonly eaten staple ingredients in the country. These starches are used to create a diverse range of dishes that reflect the country’s cultural and culinary diversity.
- Solomon Islands is a Melanesian archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean. Most of its people live near the coast, so seafood is common in the country’s cuisine. Sweet potatoes, yams, and coconuts are all popular ingredients in the food there.
- Chad is yet another landlocked country in the middle of Africa on this list. Sorghum and millet are the two most commonly consumed grains there. These crops are well adapted to the Sahel’s climate. Beef and lamb are their most popular meats, unlike in India.
India’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Freshwater Fish, Egg
Fruit: Banana, Mango
Vegetable: Onion, Tomato
Starch: Rice, Wheat
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.