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Food in the Vedic period begins with cereals like rice and barley which formed a major part of food in Vedic period. These were used in preparing sweet cakes which were either dipped in ghee before eating and consumed with Soma Ras or Soma juice or prepared with curd and butter which formed a major part of Vedic meal. Along with this the food of the Vedic period include large varieties of pulses, dairy products, meat, salts and spices, sweets and a variety of beverages which reflect the culture of Vedic period.
Vedic food included vegetarian as well as non vegetarian food items. The agrarian culture of Indian society allowed the Vedic people to cultivate a number of pulses like masura, masa, arahar, grams, peas and kulattha along with rice , wheat and barley. Among the dairy products, milk formed the principle ingredient of the Vedic society, taken usually fresh or boiled, from cows, buffalo and goats.
Rig Veda mentions that whatever is offered as sacrifice including animals shall be consumed by the priest. This allows the people of Vedic age to take animal flesh as food items. Vedic literature also mentions about the slaughter houses which highlight the importance of meat as an important food item. Meat is prepared with spices such as brassica, turmeric, and long pepper which are frequently mentioned in Vedic literature.
For fruits and vegetables, olives, kharitira, mango, amlaka and cucumber. The Vedic literature lays down a list of intoxicating beverages which are largely prepared by fermenting the fruit extracts. Most important among them was Soma Ras that was sweet and delicious in taste.
Meat was not only roasted but also cooked in the form of soup which was preferable taken along with rice. Thus food in Vedic period mainly marked the gradual progress mankind from nomadic life which largely depended on fruits and raw food items to more sophisticate rural and semi urban life. This reflected a separate style of food habit which was now fully cooked.
The earliest Indians, the Harappans, probably ate mainly wheat and rice and chickpeas and lentils, and occasionally cows, pigs, sheep, and goats, and chicken. Rice and chicken seem to have come from Thailand, and wheat and chickpeas, lentils and sheep from West Asia.
The earliest evidence of food in ancient India comes from excavated sites in the Indus Valley Civilization. The farmers of the Indus Valley grew peas, sesame, dates and rice. The Vedic literature throws considerable light on the food and drink habits of the people of the ancient India.
In ancient India meat was not only eaten, but was also regarded as the best kind of food. The meat of barren cows and sterile ox, goat and sheep was a delicacy. The Vedic texts also mention the usage of the meat of bulls, horses, buffaloes and even of dogs.
Vegetarian food became the norm only after the coming of Buddhism. In the Gupta period people mostly ate vegetables, cereals, fruits, breads, and drank milk.
The Indian elephant or Asian elephant is mostly prevalent in India (57% of world population) not suprisingly. They are classified as an endangered species. Up to 6.4m in length and around 2-3.5m in height they are regarded as an important cultural icon from Indian mythology.
More than two thirds of the day may be spent feeding on grasses, but large amounts of tree bark, roots, leaves and small stems are also eaten. Cultivated crops such as bananas, rice and sugarcane are favoured foods. Because they need to drink at least once a day, the species are always close to a source of fresh water.