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Best of 2015: Data Mining Indian Recipes Reveals New Food Pairing Phenomenon

By studying the network of links between Indian recipes, computer scientists have discovered that the presence of certain spices makes a meal much less likely to contain ingredients with flavors in common. From February …

The food pairing hypothesis is the idea that ingredients that share the same flavors ought to combine well in recipes. For example, the English chef Heston Blumenthal discovered that white chocolate and caviar share many flavors and turn out to be a good combination. Other unusual combinations that seem to confirm the hypothesis include strawberries and peas, asparagus and butter, and chocolate and blue cheese.

But in recent years researchers have begun to question how well this hypothesis holds in different cuisines. For example, food pairing seems to be common in North American and Western European cuisines but absent in cuisines from southern Europe and East Asia.

Today, Anupam Jain and pals at the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur say the opposite effect occurs in Indian cuisine. In this part of the world, foods with common flavors are less likely to appear together in the same recipe. And the presence of certain spices make the negative food pairing effect even stronger.

Continued

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