The tomato in Old World cuisine - traditional?

I just got back from a fairly decent Indian dinner near Dayton, Ohio. I wanted to try something traditionally Indian that I hadn’t had before, so I wound up with lamb saag. It was good; I enjoyed it–but . . .

There was a dish on the menu that was lamb in a tomato, onion, and bell pepper sauce that really appealed to me. Did I deprive myself by sneering that a dish containing tomato is not “traditionally” Indian?

After all, the tomato was introduced to the Old World within 30 years of the “discovery” of the Americas, and rapidly and with great enthusiasm became an intregal part of many types of food all over the world. I don’t turn my nose at Southern Italian food, rather I devour it wholesale. I’m not sure why I did so for Indian food.

Is the use of a new food for roughly 500 years enough to make it traditional?

I would say so. England didn’t start drinking tea until the 1600s.

We had a thread on this recently, and the consensus was that the time for something to become “traditional” was somewhere in the vicinity of a single lifespan. So that’s plenty of time.

We did? If it was on tomatoes, I’ll search; otherwise, could you link it please?

I think Chronos might have been referring to this thread:
Globally-speaking, how old is traditional cuisine?

Ah, interesting. I (obviously) missed that.

For what it’s worth, the restaurant also had a lamb dish that included potato in a curry. That one didn’t appeal to me very much.

Do you consider the use of the Irish potato in Irish cuisine traditional? How about beef or chicken in Mexican cuisine?

If you use the criterion of having to have existed in the culture for more than 500 years to be the cutoff for “traditional,” most world cuisines will end up with very little left that is traditional.

Well, that’s what I’m asking, eh? Was I being a dumbass?

While you’re here, what Central/South American traditional cuisines include “Old World” ingredients?

How about any and all Central/South American traditional cuisines that include beef (given that cattle descend from species native to Europe, Asia and Africa)?

Heck, in Korea kimchi is as traditional as food can get, yet both cabbage and red pepper were foreign products not introduced to Korea until well into its history.

Of course, kimchi can be made with almost any vegetable, not just cabbage. Presumably other varieties were dominant before the cabbage came along.

If you turned down an Indian dish just because it had tomato in it, then yes. :slight_smile: And of course chilis (and bell peppers) are from the New World too.

All of them. They all include items like chicken, beef, pork, cheese, rice, (wheat) flour, garlic, onions, garbanzos (chickpeas), peas, lentils, yams (most species), olives, black pepper (and most other herbs and spices besides chilis), sugar, etc., etc., etc. None of these were available in the New World before 1492.

“Indian” food has always made use of imported foods, from China and central Asia way back into antiquity, from Arabia back to the days of the silk road, from Africa (which isn’t all that far away across the Indian Ocean), and more recently from Europe and the Americas. Pretty much nothing that we’d call “Indian food” is made from ingredients that are native to the Indian subcontinent.

Food can become “traditional” after a couple of generations.

Did your grandma cook it? Fine. Who cares what they ate in the Bronze Age?

Frank- Indian food does wonderful things with potatoes. You are seriously missing out.

Aloo Gobhi-
Bombay potatoes-
Saag Aloo-


Aloo Chaat
Aloo Paratha
Aloo Tikki
Aloo Parak
Aloo Dosa
Aloo Methi


As an aside, but of interest, this Staff Report has a paragraph or two on the history of the tomato (in use in Italy by early 1500s.)

QFT :smiley: Your post made me hungry.

I always put potato in my curries.

Anyway, a ton of ingredients in Indian cuisine don’t predate Vasco da Gama – those that come immediately to mind: chilis (including bell peppers), potatoes, tomatoes, tea, chicken and chicken eggs/

A couple of weeks ago I had a Venezuelan Asado Negro - a “time-honored” ( according to one recipe ) Venezuelan holiday dish that apparently dates back to that misty ancient period around when I was born ;). New cuisines can spring up and become established in surprisingly short periods of time. I understand gyros are similarly youthful.