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Why Does Indian Food Stink?

If there is one thing you can bet on Indian food, it is the strong smell.

To some people, the Indian food smell is pleasant and aromatic.

The smell can be irritating, stinky, or simply unbearable to others.

People are wired differently, meaning what tastes heavenly to someone is the complete opposite of another individual—the same with Indian food.

Forget about the food’s smell; some even complain about smelling bad after eating Indian food, prompting them to shower and change clothes.

There are several reasons why you may find Indian food smell intolerable, from the types of spices used to the cooking method, cooking oil type, etc.

It is, however, critical to note that the food smells may vary in different Indian regions.

Different regions have different cooking styles, hence varying smells and, sometimes, even taste.

Several reasons could explain why the Indian food smell is repelling to some people, including:

1.  Spices

It is common knowledge that Indian food always contains a range of spices.

Indians use diverse spices to add flavor and color to their cuisines.

The most common spices used to prepare Indian foods include turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, mace, red and green chillies, black pepper, saffron, nutmeg, etc.

Combining several spices in one dish or using several in different dishes may culminate in a stinky smell.

If you don’t like too many spices or none in your food, you will find Indian food smell unbearable. 

2.  Cooking Method

There are several ways to cook Indian food. Some Indian food preparation techniques may release a strong smell that some may consider stinky.

The preparation methods that may render Indian food smelly include deep frying, steaming, boiling, tadka or tempering, and grilling.

There are also traditional Indian cooking methods, such as cooking using clay pits, which may cause the prepared meals to produce a stinky smell.

Some Indian dishes, depending on the method of preparation, produce a more pungent smell than others, including curries, vindaloo, tandoori cuisines, fish curries, paneer tikka, rasam, and more.

3.  Use of Herbs

Besides using spices to prepare Indian food, herbs are a common ingredient contributing to a stinky smell.

The herbs are used to add flavor and aroma to different Indian cuisines.

The range of herbs may include dill leaves, mint, coriander, fenugreek leaves, bay leaves, basil, marjoram, and parsley.

Some Indian dishes may combine spices and herbs, resulting in a heavenly taste and aroma, a smell that may be sickening if you are not a fan of Indian cuisine.

4.  Lots of Onions, Ginger, and Garlic

A pungent smell is inevitable when lots of onions and garlic are used to prepare dishes.

Indians use lots of garlic, ginger, and onions in their cuisines, examining the strong smell.

 To some, the onion and garlic smell may be typical, but some can’t stand it.

5.  Fermented Dishes

Some Indian dishes like yoghurt and pickles are fermented to achieve sour flavors.

However, fermentation gives the dishes a tangy taste and produces a distinctive smell that some may find unbearable.

Apart from yoghurt and pickles, other examples of fermented Indian foods include idli, dhokla, shidol, and appam.

6.  Improperly Cooked Dishes

Some Indian dishes can also produce a foul odour if poorly cooked or prepared.

If, for example, the food is prepared using more spices than recommended or burnt, chances are most people will find it stinky.

7.  Cooking Oil Type

Indians use a variety of cooking oils, and most produce a strong smell that may put you off.

While the oils are meant to add aroma to the food, some of them release a pungent smell after being heated.

Such oils may include but are not limited to mustard oil, ghee, kalonji, asafoetida-infused oil, and sesame oil.

Note that the smell may be stronger if the cooking oil is unrefined.

8.  Sensitivity to Smell

Another reason that explains the stinky smell of Indian food is that you are sensitive to it after experiencing it for the first time.

 Most people who are not accustomed to Indian food may find the smell of their food intolerable when they encounter it for the first time.

After getting used to the smell for a while, some do not find it stinky anymore, and that can also be the case for you.

Kenyalogue Contributor


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