Uncovering the Surprising Connection: Is Indian Cuisine Part of the Mediterranean Diet?

As the world becomes more interconnected, so do our taste buds. With globalization on the rise, the incorporation of different cultures’ cuisines into our daily lives has become inevitable. One such popular cuisine that has captured the hearts (and stomachs) of food lovers around the world is Mediterranean food. Its rich flavors, vibrant colors, and healthy ingredients have made it a favorite among many. But as we delve deeper into the realm of international cuisine, a question arises – is Indian food considered Mediterranean? This may seem like a simple query, but the answer is not as straightforward as one might think. In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between Indian and Mediterranean cuisine and unveil whether or not Indian food can be classified under the Mediterranean umbrella. So fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a culinary journey through these two diverse yet interconnected cuisines.

The Origins of Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine is a rich and diverse culinary tradition that has evolved over thousands of years. Its unique blend of flavors, spices, and textures has captivated food lovers from all around the world. The origins of Indian cuisine can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed more than 5,000 years ago. This civilization was known for its advanced farming techniques and a wide variety of crops, including wheat, rice, lentils, and spices.

Over the years, India has been influenced by various foreign cultures such as Persian, Greek, Turkish, and Mongolian. These influences not only added new ingredients to the Indian pantry but also brought different cooking styles and methods. The Mughal period in particular greatly impacted the evolution of Indian cuisine. During this time, the Mughal emperors introduced new ingredients like nuts and dried fruits as well as slow cooking methods such as dum pukht (cooking in a sealed container) and tandoori (cooking in a clay oven). This fusion of flavors from different cultures has given rise to what we know today as Indian cuisine.

Mediterranean Diet: A Brief Overview

The Mediterranean diet is based on the eating patterns followed by people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. This diet is characterized by an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, seafood, and moderate consumption of lean meats and dairy products.

Studies have consistently shown that following a Mediterranean diet can lead to numerous health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes,and certain types of cancer. It is not just about what foods are consumed but also about lifestyle factors like regular physical activity and social interaction that are important parts of this lifestyle.

Similarities Between Indian Cuisine and Mediterranean Diet

Although Indian cuisine and Mediterranean diet may seem vastly different, there are certain similarities between the two that make it reasonable to consider Indian food as part of the Mediterranean diet. Both cuisines emphasize the use of plant-based foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes. They also limit the consumption of red meat and focus on using healthier proteins like fish and poultry.

Additionally, both Indian cuisine and the Mediterranean diet rely heavily on the use of herbs and spices to add flavor to their dishes. While Indian food is often known for its use of aromatic spices like cumin, turmeric, and coriander, the Mediterranean diet makes use of herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary.

The Health Benefits of Indian Food in a Mediterranean Diet

Including Indian cuisine in a Mediterranean style diet can provide numerous health benefits. As mentioned earlier, both cuisines have an emphasis on plant-based foods, and this can help increase one’s intake of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The wide variety of spices used in Indian cooking is also beneficial for health. Many spices like turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties while others like cumin aid in digestion.

Moreover, traditional Indian cooking methods like slow cooking or using a clay oven can help preserve the nutrients in food better than other cooking methods such as frying or boiling. In comparison to Western diets that are high in processed foods and unhealthy fats, incorporating Indian cuisine into a Mediterranean diet can provide a healthier balance of nutrients.

How to Incorporate Indian Food into a Mediterranean Diet

Incorporating Indian food into a Mediterranean style diet is not difficult as many traditional dishes already fit within the framework of this eating pattern. For example, lentil dal (a popular side dish) is rich in fiber and healthy protein sources such as legumes which are encouraged on a Mediterranean diet. Tandoori chicken, a dish cooked in a clay oven and made with lean protein, is another great addition.

It’s also important to note that Indian food varies widely from region to region, so there are plenty of options to choose from that fit within the Mediterranean style diet. Additionally, one can also experiment with incorporating spices and herbs commonly used in Indian cuisine into other Mediterranean dishes to add a unique touch of flavor.


While there may not be a clear-cut answer to whether Indian food should be considered part of the Mediterranean diet, it is undeniable that traditional Indian cuisine shares many similarities with this healthy eating pattern. With its emphasis on plant-based foods, use of herbs and spices, and health benefits like anti-inflammatory properties and nutrient preservation, incorporating Indian food into a Mediterranean style diet can provide a diverse range of healthy choices. By incorporating the best aspects of both cuisines, one can create a unique and delicious eating plan that offers both variety and optimal nutrition.

What is Mediterranean Cuisine?

Mediterranean cuisine refers to the traditional foods and cooking styles of the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. This includes countries like Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and Israel among others. It is known for its fresh and healthy ingredients, simple yet flavorful cooking techniques, and use of olive oil as a primary source of fat.

The Mediterranean diet has gained popularity in recent years due to its health benefits. It has been linked with a lower risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. Its focus on whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats makes it a well-balanced diet.

What is Indian Cuisine?

Indian cuisine varies greatly depending on the region but it is known for its diverse flavors and use of spices. Originating from the Indian subcontinent, it includes dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,and Sri Lanka.

Indian dishes are typically vegetarian or include chicken or lamb as the main protein source. They are also known for their use of dairy products such as yogurt and ghee (clarified butter). Some popular Indian dishes include biryani (spiced rice dish), tandoori chicken (grilled chicken), samosas (fried or baked pastry filled with savory filling), and naan (flatbread).

The Influence of Mediterranean Cuisine on Indian Food

Historically, India has had trade and cultural interactions with many countries in the Mediterranean region. Arabs brought saffron from Spain to India while Portuguese traders introduced chilies to the country in the 15th century. These ingredients became essential in Indian cuisine and have remained an integral part of many dishes.

The Mughal Empire also played a major role in influencing Indian food culture as they introduced rich sauces like korma (braised meat in creamy sauce) and biryani to Indian cuisine. The Mughal rulers were of Central Asian and Persian descent, which has similarities to Mediterranean cuisine in terms of cooking methods and ingredients used.

Common Ingredients in Indian and Mediterranean Cuisine

Both cuisines utilize similar ingredients such as vegetables, legumes, grains, and spices. Lentils, chickpeas, and beans are commonly used in both Indian and Mediterranean dishes. Yogurt is another ingredient that is commonly used in both cuisines. In India, it is used as a marinade for meat while in Mediterranean cuisine it is often served as a dip or condiment.

Spices play a crucial role in both Indian and Mediterranean cooking. While India is known for its wide variety of spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cardamom, the Mediterranean region also uses spices like oregano, thyme, and sumac to add flavor to dishes.

The Similarities Between Indian Thali and Mezze Platter

In Indian cuisine, a thali refers to a traditional meal that consists of an assortment of different dishes such as curries, rice, vegetables, breads, and desserts served on a large platter. Similarly, the mezze platter in Mediterranean cuisine includes an array of small dishes including dips like hummus and baba ghanoush (eggplant dip), salads like tabbouleh (bulgur wheat salad), grilled meats or vegetables,and pita bread.

Both thali and mezze platters offer a variety of flavors and textures on one plate making it a popular choice for those who enjoy trying different dishes.

The Diverse Influences on Indian Cuisine

India’s history has been shaped by various invaders such as Greeks,British,Mongols,Persians,and Portuguese among others. Each group left their mark on the country’s culture including its food.While the northern part of India was influenced by Central Asian and Persian cuisine, the southern part of India has been influenced by Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine. The coastal regions have also been influenced by Portuguese food culture.

These diverse influences have contributed to the unique and rich flavors of Indian cuisine, making it a fusion of various cultures and cuisines.


In conclusion, while Indian cuisine is not considered Mediterranean per se,it has undeniable similarities and influences from the Mediterranean region. The use of similar ingredients, spices, and cooking techniques make it hard to ignore the connection between the two regions’ food cultures. Whether it is enjoying a flavorful thali or a mezze platter with friends and family, both cuisines offer a wide variety of dishes that are sure to please your taste buds. So next time you are enjoying your favorite Indian dish, you might just pick up on some Mediterranean influence in its flavors.

1. Is Indian food considered Mediterranean?
Yes, Indian food is generally considered to be part of the Mediterranean cuisine, due to the sharing of many similar ingredients and cooking techniques between the two cuisines.

2. What are some main characteristics of Mediterranean cuisine?
Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, fish, and olive oil. It also includes a variety of herbs and spices for flavoring, as well as grains and legumes as staple foods.

3. How does Indian cuisine differ from Mediterranean cuisine?
While there are many similarities between Indian and Mediterranean cuisine, there are also some key differences. These include the use of different spices and herbs, different cooking methods (such as tandoori in Indian cuisine), and the incorporation of dairy products in Indian dishes.

4. Are there any specific regions in India where Mediterranean influences can be seen in their cuisine?
Yes, there are certain regions in India that have been historically influenced by Mediterranean cuisines due to trade routes or colonial influences. These include states like Goa and Kerala which have incorporated Portuguese influences in their dishes.

5. Are there any vegetarian options available in Mediterranean cuisine?
Yes, there are plenty of vegetarian options in Mediterranean cuisine such as Greek salad, hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, ratatouille etc. Many dishes also offer a vegetarian version without meat or seafood.

6. Is it possible to find authentic Mediterranean food in Indian restaurants?
Yes, it is possible to find authentic Mediterranean food at select Indian restaurants that specialize in this type of cuisine or have chefs who are trained in preparing it. However, they may not always be true representations of traditional Mediterranean dishes due to varying interpretations and adaptations for local tastes.

In conclusion, the question of whether Indian food can be considered Mediterranean is a complex and multifaceted one. While there are certainly some similarities between the two cuisines, such as the use of herbs and spices and focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients, there are also distinct differences that make it difficult to categorize Indian food as Mediterranean. Factors such as cultural influences, geographical location, and historical context all play a role in shaping the culinary traditions of both India and Mediterranean countries.

Throughout this discussion, it has become clear that Indian food shares some common elements with Mediterranean cuisine but cannot be exclusively defined as such. Both cuisines have evolved over time through the incorporation of different ingredients and cooking techniques from neighboring regions and cultures. However, it is important to recognize the uniqueness of each cuisine and appreciate them for their own distinct flavors and traditions.

Furthermore, by exploring this topic, we have also gained insights into how food connects people in various ways. The exchange of culinary practices between India and Mediterranean countries has not only enriched their respective cuisines but also fostered cultural exchanges and understanding. The acceptance and appreciation of different types of food is a testament to our ever-evolving global society.

In conclusion, while Indian food may not be considered entirely Mediterranean in its nature, it certainly holds its own

Author Profile

Erick Benitez
Erick Benitez
In 2003, the Coast Sushi Bar was founded, quickly becoming a beloved fixture in its trendy neighborhood, appreciated for its exceptional sushi and vibrant BYOB atmosphere.

The chefs at Coast have developed a mastery in blending subtle yet intricate flavors, establishing a reputation for pioneering innovative New-Japanese cuisine with only the finest global ingredients.

Building on decades of culinary success, the founder launched a new endeavor in 2024—a blog focused on Japanese snacks. This blog marks a significant shift from restaurateur to food blogger, motivated by a desire to share comprehensive insights into Japanese culinary arts and snack culture. The content covers traditional snacks, the evolution of snack culture in Japan, and the global influence and adaptation of these snacks.

Each blog post reflects the founder's commitment to quality and attention to detail, mirroring the standards of Coast Sushi Bar.

Aimed at both aficionados and novices of Japanese cuisine, the blog serves as a resource for deepening readers’ knowledge and appreciation of Japan's rich and diverse food culture.