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The science of taste and the curry-ous reason behind why Indian food tastes so good




Close-up Lamb Curry, Chilli Chicken, Mixed Vegetable Curry, 1-roti and half-rice
Close-up Lamb Curry, Chilli Chicken, Mixed Vegetable Curry, 1-roti and half-rice
Alpha from Zam Zam Cafe Restaurant via Flickr

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With its combination of pungent aromas and unique flavor profiles, Indian food is one of the most coveted cuisines in the world.

In a new study from researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur, we’re getting a look at what makes Indian food different than most other cuisines around the world. Data scientists compiled more than 2,000 popular Indian recipes and discovered that flavor profiles for the ingredients in most Indian dishes almost never overlap, making for a much more complex tasting experience than is found in most Western cuisines.

What is the science behind why the flavor profiles of Indian dishes are so different than here in the West? How does the body identify the ways that different ingredients react and overlap with one another? What can we learn in Western cuisine from the findings of this study?

Guests:

Roberto Ferdman, reporter for the Washington Post’s “Wonkblog” covering food, economics, and immigration. He wrote the Post’s article on the Indian food study.

Emily Liman, associate professor of biological sciences at USC’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. She’s an expert in taste, smell, and pain