Can you imagine India without its rotis? Or can you imagine your festivals without sweets and cakes?
But what if I inform you that wheat is not native to India.
Wheat is one of the most used grains in the world. You can not imagine India without its rotis made of wheat flour. But when it comes to its origin, wheat is not native to India. The history of wheat in India is quite interesting.
It is actually astonishing how the food we think of our own is often assimilated to our culture from different places or cultures.
Most of our food ingredients are not originated in India. They came to India from other places thousands of years ago, adapting on the way and becoming our own.
Everything transmigrated to India at certain points in the history. But now, you can’t imagine our food without them.
Just like the story of cauliflower, I shared here; wheat transmigrated to India around 6500 BC which is almost 8500 years ago.
History of Wheat in India
The origins of wheat can be traced back to the wild wheatgrass which originated in the foothills of the Southern Mountains in Turkey in or around 10,000 BC.
Can you imagine the golden grains that we eat everyday has a history of 12,000 years!
The first attempt to domesticate it was made during 10,000 BC to 9500 BC. But it had a long way to go before wheat reached India.
Turkey was an integral part of the Fertile Crescent and centre of Mesopotamia. It was also home to several other grains eaten in the modern world.
It was believed that wheat migrated with the early men as they left Mesopotamia for better shelter and hunting opportunities. They carried seeds of wheat with them and sowed them as they went to North Africa, Europe, Egypt, and Central Asia.
These areas started growing wheat between the time frame of 8,000-6500 BC.
But it was not until 6500 BC, approximately 4000 years after its domestication, wheat reached Baluchistan, India (now in Pakistan). It then went to become the most cultivated grain in the northwest India for several millennia.
Archaeological evidence has proved that wheat reached India before the Harappa Civilisation. The Baluchistan excavations confirmed that although pottery was not known in that period, people used mud-brick structures to cook the wheat grains.
In fact, Harappan period saw its acceptance as a main food in the northern India. It transmigrated from the Indus basin as the people penetrated the heartland of India to the Gangatic plains.
This migration was confirmed by carbo dating the charcoaled wheat found not only in Mohenjo-Daro but in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The reason why wheat was cultivated extensively in this belt can be traced to the geography of north India. People adapted wheat easily for its versatility and longer shelf period. However, it is fascinating how the geographic conditions of north-west India encouraged the cultivation of wheat.
Soon, the whole area started cultivating wheat and it went on to become the grain basket of India.
Wheat requires 100 days of continuous sunshine (or frost-free conditions) and an annual rainfall of 30-80 cm. It also requires good drainage and light clay or heavy loamy soil.
All these geographic conditions are present in the northern part of Indian sub-continent making it suitable for wheat cultivation. Now, India is known for its wheat flour rotis and is one of the major producers of wheat.
Trivia: There is no mention of wheat in Rig Veda. Why? It is because when the Rig Veda was being written, wheat was not cultivated in India.
This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla, and happily SPONSORED BY RRE Studios and SHOWCASE Events.