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Why do you like Indian cuisine?


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We've already had a thread on what defines "Indian" cuisine. Does spicing as a whole make Indian special?

I grew up with a distinct love of spiced (not necessarily spicy) foods above and beyond most unspiced foods (hamburger and fries being the notable exception). While this manifested itself as a love of Chinese, Thai and Malaysian cuisines in my youth and early teen, by my midteens I had discovered Indian food and changed my food allegiances permanently. The deciding factor in my shift was the Indian use of spicing - both hot and savory.

The flavor range Indian spicing provides is unmatched to the best of my knowledge.

I think what I'm getting at is.. why do you like Indian cuisine?

/ramble off

"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

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I think that one of the great mistakes is thinking of

a) Indian food. Like saying European Food

b) Food from India being "spicy"

There are probably 100 different regional cuisines in India and all vary hugely from the Southern dishes rich in vegetables and fiery chilles and often cooked in Palm oil, through the Bengali food of my own family using almost no spicing ( bar the ever present Turmeric ) and comprising boney fish and chicken cooked in mustard oil, to the rich Moghul food of Kasmir which is rich in cream and nuts.

I find the real problem people have with "Indian Food' is they think it is all mouth burningly hot, usually an alarming red colour and has an unfortunate affect on certain areas of their anatomy the next day. When I cook them the some of my fave dishes ( I have posted quite a few recipes ) they are amazed at the subtlety that even an amateur like me can achieve

Indian food is SO easy to make, but often scares people off

S

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Perhaps you can tell me:

Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to sample much Indian cuisine. I hope this changes when I go to London! However, my Indian friend's mom here in Michigan makes something I absolutely love and devour unashamedly.

It's almost like a snack mix. She gives us big bags of it but won't tell me how to recreate it. It's called--chevru? chayvrew?--forgive my spelling.

It seems really simple and it tastes SO good. Does anyone know how to make this?

Noise is music. All else is food.

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I love the wonderful mix of flavors in Indian food. It's a shame many people decide they don't like Indian food without ever trying it. Some "know" it will be too hot. Friends refuse to try it because they "don't like curry." I try to explain curry is only one part of the cuisine and I have never ordered anything called curry in an Indian restaurant. When I worked in NYC, co-workers from Queens decided they hated Indian food just because they lived in apartment buildings with Indian families and didn't like the smells from their kitchens. I wish folks would at least try a new cuisine before writing it off! There are a lot of timid palates around here. I don't enjoy food that is too spicy, but I like a bit of a kick. Too much heat in any dish just kills my tastebuds. :shock:

KathyM

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Why wouldn't you like Indian cuisine? :blink: I would agree with Suzanne above: the complexity is alluring. I am also impressed by how well-rounded and healthy it can be. I cannot imagine life without dal, dosas, rasam, uddapaum, paratha, to name a few.

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Why wouldn't you like Indian cuisine?  :blink:

Because it's so ... foreign. :rolleyes::wacko: I happen to think that even badly-done Indian food is many times better than a Big Mac -- but many many people will never try anything DIFFERENT. :shock:

Related story: we have a research assistant from Bangladesh working with us -- very sophisticated young woman, graduate of Smith College, currently studying for a Master's in Public Finance at NYU. Yesterday I was prepping artichokes for dinner (office is in our apartment) and making stock with the scraps. When Zarin left for the day, she asked what she had enjoyed smelling. Arthichokes? What's that? In the ensuing conversation, she let on that she has only recently started to eat and enjoy -- SPINACH. And that broccoli was very exotic when she was growing up.

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My father living on a timeline, admittedly VERY SICK (as per the many chiefs of the various departments at the University of Colorado Medical Hospital) has been an enigma to the doctors. Even as his liver has failed due to NASH (non-alcohol related cirrhosis), his other bodily functions are superb. He has lived with diabetes for 15 years and hypertension (high blood pressure) for over 40 years, I too have that since the age of 18, and yet all his organs (albeit, liver) are in sterling condition.

They are nervous about operating on a man close to 60 and who has diabetes and hypertension for so long, so yesterday they did a Angiogram, not convinced that the MRI's, CT Scans and the EKG's etc were telling them the truth, they found no blockages in his arteries, no kidney damage and no damage to any essential organ other than the liver.

Then we went to the anesthetist, she was evaluating him for pre-surgery anesthesia related issues. An hour after her evaluation, she did an oxygen test on this man (my father), the third one thus far, and again, he had a 100% oxygen rate in such poor health. They could not believe he had this reading. She told us that most (over 90%) of the patients that come to her have much lower oxygen levels. If not for any other reason but just the significant altitude of Denver. She was now convinced that 3 different machines could not have read wrongly, and so, she said to us that yes my father had a great oxygen level in his blood, and that from this day on, she would consider becoming a vegetarian and also eat more Indian food.

A man whose liver has failed has puzzled them with great readings with other organs. They want to find reasons now, before surgery to see if he could have complications during surgery, or to not perform surgery. But they cannot find any. Most all the doctors are saying to us that he must have always had a great diet.

What were his secrets they ask? Over eating as my mother says.. but always great and tasty food from the homes and restaurants in India for the most part. When he traveled, he always wanted fine Indian food... a night or two of the other stuff, but back to basics after that as he says.

He is vegetarian (ovo-lactose) and has never drunk (never, ever) and never done recreational drugs and never smoked (again never ever).

For a country of a billion plus people, Indians die in great numbers, and India has a very rich and affluent Middle Class (as rich as this segment in the rest of the world, and more populous than all of the US and Latin America) that eats well and a lot. But cancer rates, diabetes rates and those of heart disease are much lower.

I am sure the poor, which are again a teeming million have many diseases, but those come from malnutrition and lack of food and sanitary surroundings.

Diet plays a great and almost insignificant role. It is essential, and yet is not discussed as much as in many cultures. It is old and ancient and a way of our lives.

And many nutritionists that I work with, many that I meet with and many that I have met in these last few days, tell me how those spices, herbs, vegetables and legumes we grew up eating are really far healthier than stuff we eat in our lives today all over the world.

Simon and the rest of you have brought out all the essential elements that define Indian cooking. And I only wanted to add this one other side of it.

I like Indian Foods for they give me a very varied experience with food. As Simon said, it is able to give you every taste you wish for. From spicy to sweet. From tangy to bitter, from bland to perky and from zingy to dull. You can find them all and more. Suzanne mentioned complex and she is right. Spices are celebrated for all the unique personality traits they have. Indian chefs have mastered how to bring out each of these traits if need be, and at times only one or two or three.

Indian food has a very basic repertoire that is as exhaustive as the regional and local differences within the very varied landscape that forms India. Even seasoned travelers and old India hands like Gael Greene find many new and exciting and captivating discoveries of India each time they are there. That is India, and that also is the life and reality of its foods.

What a great thread this is. What a great life it can have. Thanks Rstarobi and thanks to all that are keeping the India board just as wonderful now as it was before. :smile:

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I wish folks would at least try a new cuisine before writing it off!  There are a lot of timid palates around here. 

Well said. :smile:

At NYU where I have taught classes, some of the young students coming into the undergraduate program would be so xenophobic. And sadly these were the students from the US. The foreign students had perhaps become less so for they left their own countries to come here and may have had more spirit of adventure. But the difference was remarkable.

The eighteen and nineteen year old US students I had were afraid to even take a taste. The foreign ones would be hungry to try.

I think it is essential to give new things a try.. and I think travel makes minds broad. How I wish someday I can have enough wealth that I can create a trust that sends young teens from our country into lands far away to open their lives into the realities of other people.

And this is true for any country. I see this happening in India. I am told the education system is changing drastically there. Things are becoming less international and more nationalistic.

We learned so much about food, costume and traditions of the people of the world in our geography classes growing up. We were always hungry to discover these when we traveled.

Food can only bring us together once we allow it to come into our lives. Taste is subjective for sure. But taste has great power to heal and unite.

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It's called--chevru? chayvrew?--forgive my spelling.

It seems really simple and it tastes SO good.  Does anyone know how to make this?

Chivra, Chivda, Chevro, Chevru or however you spell it or pronounce it, is the Indian version of party mix.

It changes in taste from region to region.

Perhaps your friend or their family is from Gujarat or Bombay, I only say that from the way you are spelling it. If I am correct, they must add some sugar to this mix. And Gujarati chevro is my favorite if I want something neutral.

You can make it at home, but you will have to collect many ingredients. It is just as tasty bought pre-packaged at Indian stores. Certainly your friends families version will have that extra brilliance that home made things have, but you should be able to enjoy the store bought one for its own reasons.

I am glad you mentioned Chevro, now I shall ask my sister to go bring us some to keep in our temporary home in Denver. It will make me have at least some good flavor even as I feel down. :smile:

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I think what I'm getting at is.. why do you like Indian cuisine?

I find the food and the culture surrounding it's creation absolutely fascinating. I love talking with the Chefs I know from Pakistan and India about their food as, amongst other benefits, it highlights over and over the breathtaking diversity of food offered from the region. I also love to hear those pakistani and Indian Chefs argue passionately about who created what and who makes the best or most creative use of all the ingredients at their disposal.

I've yet to taste an indian dish I did not at least like. Some I absoutely adore. Like dopiaza, bhuna, tandoori naan, popadoms, mushroom bhajjee, chicken pakora, chicken tikka and probably my favourite dish of all time: the peerless burryani. Truly a dish fit for the Gods.

I love the colours (yes, even the alarming reds), the aromas, the contrast of both flavour and textures in many dishes. Have you ever seen how gorgeous an Indian feast can look? Such a beautiful riot of colour and flavours is impossible for me to resist. And it need not be always complex. It doesn't get much simpler than a snack of fresh Popadom with a mint raita, but the crisp, nutty, still warm Popadom is a marvel to taste when dipped in the smooth, cool raita.

It's great fun to eat into the bargain. I'll always prefer the relaxed, casual meal where people tear naans and use them to scoop up sauce to devour over formal restaurants where all too often the procession of dishes is stuffily regimented - starter, main dish, dessert.

Yawn.

Sit at an indian feast and help yourself with hands, breads and mouth to whatever takes your fancy. Want to dip a piece of vegetable pakora into

the Kashmiri sauce? Go right ahead. It tastes great, too. I find the whole eating experience with Indian cuisine to be extraordinarily tactile.

Another aspect I love about the culture and the cusine is the enthusiam of Chefs from Scotland as to how to cook the dishes well. Glasgow, reputedly, has more Indian restaurants per head of capita than anywhere one earth barring Bombay itself. It's great to speak daily with Chefs with an enthusiam for learning about a cuisine that is far and away Scotland's most popular food.

I could talk for hours about why I love Indian food, but it's near one am and I have to rise in five hours to work. I'm treating myself to haldi chicken dopiaza for lunch simply because I can :biggrin:

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I think what I'm getting at is.. why do you like Indian cuisine?

I find the food and the culture surrounding it's creation absolutely fascinating. I love talking with the Chefs I know from Pakistan and India about their food as, amongst other benefits, it highlights over and over the breathtaking diversity of food offered from the region. I also love to hear those pakistani and Indian Chefs argue passionately about who created what and who makes the best or most creative use of all the ingredients at their disposal.

I've yet to taste an indian dish I did not at least like. Some I absoutely adore. Like dopiaza, bhuna, tandoori naan, popadoms, mushroom bhajjee, chicken pakora, chicken tikka and probably my favourite dish of all time: the peerless burryani. Truly a dish fit for the Gods.

I love the colours (yes, even the alarming reds), the aromas, the contrast of both flavour and textures in many dishes. Have you ever seen how gorgeous an Indian feast can look? Such a beautiful riot of colour and flavours is impossible for me to resist. And it need not be always complex. It doesn't get much simpler than a snack of fresh Popadom with a mint raita, but the crisp, nutty, still warm Popadom is a marvel to taste when dipped in the smooth, cool raita.

It's great fun to eat into the bargain. I'll always prefer the relaxed, casual meal where people tear naans and use them to scoop up sauce to devour over formal restaurants where all too often the procession of dishes is stuffily regimented - starter, main dish, dessert.

Yawn.

Sit at an indian feast and help yourself with hands, breads and mouth to whatever takes your fancy. Want to dip a piece of vegetable pakora into

the Kashmiri sauce? Go right ahead. It tastes great, too. I find the whole eating experience with Indian cuisine to be extraordinarily tactile.

Another aspect I love about the culture and the cusine is the enthusiam of Chefs from Scotland as to how to cook the dishes well. Glasgow, reputedly, has more Indian restaurants per head of capita than anywhere one earth barring Bombay itself. It's great to speak daily with Chefs with an enthusiam for learning about a cuisine that is far and away Scotland's most popular food.

I could talk for hours about why I love Indian food, but it's near one am and I have to rise in five hours to work. I'm treating myself to haldi chicken dopiaza for lunch simply because I can :biggrin:

Wow!

Thanks for some beautiful and sensitive writing.

Maybe you will start threads on some of these dishes you so beautifully describe and bring alive in your words.

I am happy to have made time to browse eGullet this evening in Denver. There are as usual so many wonderful threads. And then this great post in the Indian forum. WHat more could I ask for. Thanks! :smile:

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Perhaps your friend or their family is from Gujarat or Bombay, I only say that from the way you are spelling it. If I am correct, they must add some sugar to this mix. And Gujarati chevro is my favorite if I want something neutral.

Yay! Good to hear from you Mr. Saran! Yes, they are from Gujarat.

It is just as tasty bought pre-packaged at Indian stores. Certainly your friends families version will have that extra brilliance that home made things have, but you should be able to enjoy the store bought one for its own reasons.

Unfortunately we don't have much in the way of ethnic-food groceries in this particular neck of the woods. When I get to Chicago next month, it'll be on my list of foods to search out. :biggrin:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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Unfortunately we don't have much in the way of ethnic-food groceries in this particular neck of the woods.  When I get to Chicago next month, it'll be on my list of foods to search out.  :biggrin:

There are at least a couple of websites that specialize in Indian groceries - Namaste is one, as is Kalustyan's, which is more of a generalized Middle Eastern/Indian shop.

"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

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Nero, when you get to chicago, you will be in luck. Chicago is a city of neighborhood ethnic grocery stores. Devon street on the very far north side--many indian grocery stores and site of many indian/pakistani restaurants. Actually, that section of Devon is only a small slice of ethnic fare. Farther down, you have Orthodox Jewish bakeries, Eastern European groceries...etc.

PM if you want further suggestions.

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Indian food is such a flavorfull cuisine, and I am all about flavor be it sweet, savory spicy, peppery or mild. I love it because it is similar to middle the eastren cuisine that I was raised on but it is not quiet the same. It has more use of spices and condiments. The similarities that I love are the use of naan (similar to Pita), using veggies in so many elaborate and fantastic ways and last but not least is the use of yogurt (as a sauce, to cook in, or as a condiment). It is also such a great retreat when you want something "exotic" in the middle of a busy week. I just cook up (or buy some) some flavorful dish with some naan,chutney (preferably tomato :smile:) and basmati and enjoy.

This is why e-gullet is such a great place, I learned so many new things about indian cuisine especially from Suvir. As a proof I have a much more comprehensive Indian pantry (as well as curry leaves in the freezer) now than I did six months ago.

FM

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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NeroW: Did you say you live in Michigan? I live in Michigan, too, and know of atleast some decent stores that carry Chiwda .......try this website for some in your area or contact me:

http://www.miindia.com/

Why do I like Indian food? Besides the fact that I was born there and it means home?

Because it is such a large world, so encompassing. So many worlds within worlds.

I grew up in Bombay, a Maharashtrian. That's one kind of cuisine.

Sabudana Khichdi - Sago cooked with peanuts, the best breakfast food ever.

Kothimbirichya Vadya - Deep fried rolls of cilantro in a chick pea flour batter.

When I was 15, I moved to Hyderabad. A unique city. A rare magical blend of nothern and southern cuisine - geographically in the South but was ruled by the Nawabs until very recently.

Biryani - rice. lamb and spices, slow cooked in earthenware pots sealed with dough for hours on end (and I'm more or less vegetarian!);

Mirchi ka salan - a thin gravy of green chillies and coconut served with biryani;

Bagara baingan - little brinjals stuffed with a spicy mixture of peanuts and coconuts and cooked in a gravy ....

When I moved here, I met and married a South Indian and that opened up a whole new world of cuisine for me. Yes, I'd eaten in South Indian retaurants before but learning to cook "real" South Indian food from my mother in law has been an amazing experience.

(Aside: An amazing South Indian cookbook is Dakshin, by Chandra Padmanabhan. Comes with my mom-in-laws stamp of approval!)

And then, at 21, moving here to the US. It opened up a huge door - all these ingredients and cuisines I had only heard of, if that.

And yet, as I learn and experiment with them, I can also bring them back to my roots and Indian food just expands and changes and grows to welcome them all. Artichokes, galangal, feta, asparagus, parsley, swiss chard, wasabi ....

Phew. Love this thread.

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Kothimbirichya Vadya - Deep fried rolls of cilantro in a chick pea flour batter.

.........

Phew. Love this thread.

Kothimbirichya Vadya - You are bad... Very Bad! Now I am craving these... I ate some in Bombay when I was there in India earlier last year. With pav (buns) they are heavenly for breakfast or any time of the day or night when you want something simple but full of flavor.

And thanks for your posts... how wonderful to read about your Maharashtrian food knowledge and everything else you so generously share.

Looking forward to the next thread where you have added stuff... Thanks for sharing.. I hope you will not tire anytime soon. :smile:

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