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Suvir Saran

Indian Food

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How does the fact that Indian cooking in homes is largely vegetarian affect the restaurants serving Indian food?

What effect does it have on the sales in a restaurant?  Do people go to them primarily to eat meats and sate their cravings thereof?  

Any thoughts?

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going back in time i see that this discussion about home and restaurant foods has occured before. though i'm not sure it has incorporated issues of class.

i have to express vigorous disagreement, however, with this statement suvir has probably forgotten he made:

the fact that Indian cooking in homes is largely vegetarian

this is certainly not true of bengali homes (unless you consider fish a vegetable--i used to say anything that doesn't make a sound when you kill it is a vegetable, but i digress). i doubt it is true of keralite or north-eastern or goan or hyderabadi homes either. i think there's a (sometimes unconscious) tendency to equate indian culture and cuisine with brahmanical culture. the lower castes, to take this even further, have always had a meat, even beef, culture--it didn't come with muslim invaders and traders.

the difference between home food and restaurant food as i've experienced it in india, not in terms of quality but of kind, has more to do with labor intensity and equipment. while rich families perhaps have all the things in their kitchens that restaurant kitchens have, and also family cooks of lineage that can make those fancy dishes that restaurants make, the average indian family neither has these things and people, nor can they afford to cook things in butter or desi ghee or cream, or make meat dishes that don't stretch out for more than one meal--unlike some people on this board we never had a raan on the horizon of possibility in my parents' home, let alone the possibility of marinating it in single-malt scotch.

as a result we ate/eat certain things at home (veg and non-veg) and when we had/have cravings for tandoori food or butter chicken or reshmi kababs we went/go out. nor are places like bukhara representative of the kind of restaurant that the average delhi-ite, let alone indian, goes to when they eat out--it is just too expensive. as such it is not a good example in this comparison; a better comparison in delhi would be between home food and the dhabas on pandara road (pindi and gulati's) etc.

really i don't think it is a question of whether homes or restaurants cook better but of usually entirely different menus. to some extent i think the homes of the rich in delhi perhaps have more in common with restaurant kitchens than they do with the homes of the middle-class and below.


Edited by mongo_jones (log)

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Thanks for bringing this dialogue about what is vegetarian alive.

Fish is vegetarian to many a Brahman in Bengal.... and to some on the other coast as well.

It is fascinating to study what vegetarians in different parts in India can eat from the fish and even meat and poultry world as one travels through parts of India.

Class certainly has played a very important role in defining what one eats.

Local availability of stuff too and also other factors. I am happy to be wrong and also happy to learn what each of you can share about what is vegetarian to you and what you find being the percentage of vegetarian consumption in your areas and cities.

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Isn't fish called jol Touri ? hence a vegetable :biggrin: Bengali, Malyali and kashmiri Brahmins are indeed non-vegetarians.


anil

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Isn't fish called jol Touri ? hence a vegetable  :biggrin:  Bengali, Malyali and kashmiri Brahmins are indeed non-vegetarians.

Yes that is what I grew up hearing.. Jol Torai (jol meaning water, torai as in vegetable or zucchini in Hindi).

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meat was always the center of our meals at home we were christian) but to me, anything that doesn't bleed is considered vegetarian.

as for restaurants here in the US, they typically handle it by being all-veg to attract indian and non-indian veggies, or they have a broken down menu with various meat offerings. (sometimes even beef)

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as for restaurants here in the US, they typically handle it by being all-veg to attract indian and non-indian veggies, or they have a broken down menu with various meat offerings.  (sometimes even beef)

Most restaurants in the US tend to be NON veg with some vegetarian selections. As the restaurants mautured and identified their audiences they balanced their meat and non meat offerings and offering small servings or side dishes of their vegetarian selections.

90% of the vegetarian joints started out as South Indian places as Dosas, vadas, iddlis are very popular with Indians from all over. Most of these places then went the buffet route with north indian selections also thrown in.

Now most of the vegetarian indian restaurants in the US( at least where I am ) will offer even a chat bar with make your self pani pooris and chat papri etc so everyone is happy.

regarding beef, you rarely see it on menus as operators or the employees sometimes do not want to handle beef or pork. But with the retiring of the stalwarts and a younger, McDonald burger munching, crew comming in you should see more of beef and pork.


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yeah i agree..that's a better way of putting it - most do wind up being non-veg with veg offerings.

we've got quite a few that are strictly veg tho - one near me does all types, but was actually started by a south african indian couple.

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as for restaurants here in the US, they typically handle it by being all-veg to attract indian and non-indian veggies, or they have a broken down menu with various meat offerings.  (sometimes even beef)

Most restaurants in the US tend to be NON veg with some vegetarian selections. As the restaurants mautured and identified their audiences they balanced their meat and non meat offerings and offering small servings or side dishes of their vegetarian selections.

90% of the vegetarian joints started out as South Indian places as Dosas, vadas, iddlis are very popular with Indians from all over. Most of these places then went the buffet route with north indian selections also thrown in.

Now most of the vegetarian indian restaurants in the US( at least where I am ) will offer even a chat bar with make your self pani pooris and chat papri etc so everyone is happy.

regarding beef, you rarely see it on menus as operators or the employees sometimes do not want to handle beef or pork. But with the retiring of the stalwarts and a younger, McDonald burger munching, crew comming in you should see more of beef and pork.

BBhasin, I have had the same experiences as you note.

And yes, I see a new generation of chefs that will break the old custom and will add pork and beef to the menu.

I remember when I suggested that Hemant Mathur add Wild Boar Chops to his menu, several employees thought it was too risky. He did it, and many a customer were thrilled. Asked by me if he could add pork or beef, he said NO. The owner would have nothing to do with it. Wild Board fell into some gray zone where no one understood the connection to pork and it was allowed to fall through the cracks.

I cannot wait to see how this trend changes in the hands of the "McDonald burger munching, crew". I am actually curious. :rolleyes::unsure:

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as for restaurants here in the US, they typically handle it by being all-veg to attract indian and non-indian veggies, or they have a broken down menu with various meat offerings.  (sometimes even beef)

Where are these beef serving restaurants??? Can you share names and locations?

In NYC, the few restaurants that serve beef are kebab houses or restaurants run by Pakistanis. They too are very few.

Most of the Pakistani run dhaba style restaurants that are catering to the Sub Continental yellow cab drivers, do not put either pork or beef on their menus. They are showing sympathy towards each others social customs in doing so.

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suvir - i'm racking my brain thinking of the one that used to be here near me - it was run by christians, so that may be why - but it moved to someplace out of my general 3 mile radius about 3 years ago, and i can't remember the name anymore.

there was also another one - but i'd only been to that one once and it was definitely not in my area. i remember being absolutely shocked tho.

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suvir - i'm racking my brain thinking of the one that used to be here near me - it was run by christians, so that may be why - but it moved to someplace out of my general 3 mile radius about 3 years ago, and i can't remember the name anymore.

there was also another one - but i'd only been to that one once and it was definitely not in my area.  i remember being absolutely shocked tho.

What city or state do you live in? Only if you are comfortable sharing this detail. Or else, I am sure the curiosity shall pass.

If you can think of names, do share them. It would make for great insight for those of us that can benefit from such research.

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atlanta, GA.

it's horible of me, but i very rarely remember the names of the places i vist, only which strip-mall it's located in. :blink:

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