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Indian food is characterised by the use of various spices, herbs and other vegetables, and sometimes fruits grown in India and also for the widespread practice of vegetarianism in Indian society. Each family of Indian cuisine includes a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques. As a consequence, it varies from region to region, reflecting the varied demographics of the ethnically-diverse Indian subcontinent.
Hindu beliefs and culture have played an influential role in the evolution of Indian cuisine. However, cuisine across India also evolved as a result of the subcontinent's large-scale cultural interactions with ancient Greece, Persia, Mongols, and West Asia, making it a unique blend of various cuisines. The spice trade between India and Europe is often cited as the main catalyst for Europe's Age of Discovery. The colonial period introduced European cooking styles to India, adding to the flexibility and diversity of Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine has influenced cuisines across the world, especially those from Southeast Asia.
Indian Cooking derives from a 5000 year old timeline, during which culture has changed, geographical boundaries have changed significantly leading to confusing terms such as sub-continental cuisine while other parts of a region want a separate culinary identity. Indian Cooking has however evolved significantly over time and the varying influences brought into the country by the various rulers and travelers, it has not lost its original identity, rather become richer with the assimilation of the myriad influences. This is very apparent in some of the unique regional cuisines.
In 2003, there were as many as 10,000 restaurants serving Indian cuisine in England and Wales alone. According to Britain's Food Standards Agency, the Indian food industry in the United Kingdom is worth £3.2 billion, accounts for two-thirds of all eating out, and serves about 2.5 million British customers every week
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