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The History of Indian Food

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I am going to chip in here if I may.  I think the increase of a "restaurant" culture owes itself to political and sociological factors ( which by necessity are down to foreign influences )

first of all, while India has not had a history of "dining' out, it has a centuries long tradition of eating outside.  Street food is the very essence of Indian cuisine and is at the heart of the wonderful "freshly prepared" magic of the cuisines of the sub continent. But what you say is true, there has not been, until the last 50 yrs or so, a culture of visiting restaurants.

The emergence of this culture is down to the emergence of a middle class and like wise the emergence of disposable income.  Previously in India, and I know this from my own experience, people were very very wealthy or living at a subsistence level.  In the last 50 years ( and this is where outside influences have come in, India has moved from a self sufficient agricultural society to one that is now equally based in high end technology.

People have money to spend and want to spend it.  Just as you will see a raise in restaurant visits, you will see the same in records purchased, books purchased and cinemas visited.

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In the highly developed Western European restaurant culture food is cooked at the "top end" that bears little or no relation to food that people actually cook at home.All right ,you could buy the El Bulli cookbook and cook recipes from it at home if you wish,but how many people actually do that.

It will be interesting to see if India begins to develop a restaurant culture which attempts to drive the cuisine to new levels over the next few years,or whether it will content itself with providing an extension of home and/or street eating for those with larger disposable incomes.

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As well, more people just simply want to get out of the house, away from their extended families, more than ever before. The generational tensions can be tremendous.

I believe that Suvir referred to this.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Steve, good questions.

India has had phenomenal revolutions but they have been slower and (relatively) bloodless.  Independence, partition etc have all played their part.  what has been most influential, I would hazzard has been the opening up of India to Japan and the West.  Non Indian companies have brought with them non India wages and non Indian expectations

The globalisation of TV has also played a part with Star TV advertising American and Japanese goods all of which push all the right aspirational buttons.

I can't truly speak to where chefs come from in India.  In rich households many men would not be allowed in the kitchen.  In poorer ones they would be out working.  Again these strict boundaries are eroding

India is a country of 1000 faces and there is no easy explanation for anything that happens there.  I always offer up one anecdote by way of describing India

Once when I was visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra, I stayed at the very exclusive hotel ( The Oberoi I think )  Sitting on the lawn having a Fresh Lime Soda ( with salt, of course ) I watched the workers mowing the lawn.  The hotel had bought a state of the art sit upon tractor mower to do the job.  But, this being India they could not get parts nor the correct fuel, so the mower was pulled by a team of oxen with three men behind it to guide the driver

There Steve is India in a snapshot.  Never, ever expect it to make sense, just enjoy it for what it is


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Don't wish to quibble Simon,but partition wasn't even relatively bloodless. Tens of thousands lost their lives.

This process (the emergence of a "middle class" with disposable income) is taking place very slowly and is largely confined to the major cities.Sinced the forties there have been restaurants to cater for tourists and the wealthy (mainly confined to hotels) and others such as Moti Mahal as described by Suvir,which originally catered for local workers and the "lower middle classes".

In the last 20 years or so there has been a lot of investment from abroad in India attracted by its relatively stable political system,an abundance of cheap labour and rich natural resources.At the same time their has been an expansion in the education system, an upsurge of tourism and an increase in awareness of alternative cultural systems through the media.

Combined,these factors are leading to a slow emergence of a social sustem based on income rather than caste or religion.

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Thanks for all the kind words.  I wish I could take credit for all that I write.  It is only a part of who I am and I have India and America to thank for it.  When in India, I hate it for many reasons.  When on the plane leaving India, I immediately start to miss those very things that annoy me so much when on the land.  When back in America, my love with India reaches a point of despair.  I become the lover that finds their love one-sided.  

India is not anything that anyone Indian or not, can uncover very easily.  While most of us around the world are trying desperately to understand it for our limited and biased reasons, India continues to thrive in the many perplexing, complicated and unusual ways that have made it what it is.  While the west is obsessed and worried about the imminent war, family and friends across India, are moving along with the same resilience and smiles they wear and share daily.  

Perhaps some of you would be curious to know that the Indian Middle Class numbers more than the population of Australia.  And will be larger than that of America in the next 5 years.  That is a very large group of people with affluence for a nation as young as India.  The rich of India have lives one can only dream about and never live in most any other part of the world.  The same is true for the rich of Pakistan.  But when we talk about India we speak of a nation of a Billion plus people. And then there are those teeming millions that live a life of poverty and are poor and illiterate.  

So, when we talk about India, we have to be keenly aware that a country like that cannot just cater food and service to an affluent or educated people.  Being a democracy, everyone finds a voice and an ability to demonstrate their own style.  So, when we talk of Indian restaurants, we are talking in any few given blocks of an Indian big city, restaurants of all kinds.  Serving all kinds of customers.  Some that need more attention and service than even those that dine at Four Seasons in NYC.  And others that do not even know service is a part of the package when dining outside of a home.

A friend of mine, a columnist from the Times of India was in NYC three or four summers ago, it was the year of Four Seasons Restaurant celebrating their 40th anniversary.  This friend dines with all kinds of American celebrities when in the US.  He had been to Balthazar and shared the table with Madonna.  And so now was my turn to share with him a fancy dining experience.  Knowing that Indians are spoiled silly in our fancy restaurants, I could not think of a better place to take him for a similar experience in the US.  Also I thought of an angle that could make him write a story on the Four Seasons for the Times.  Trideep Bose is one of the two managers working under Julian and Alex.  He is a native of Delhi.  I thought it would be fun for Indians to read about this great restaurant and find out that one of their own sons was a key player in that experience.  Well, as usual, we were promptly seated at the table of the house.  Philip Johnson had not been there that day; we were given his favorite corner table.  One reserved for him, as he is present almost daily when in town.  This was lunch, all the big CEO's etc as usual were dining and chatting and brokering deals.  Nikhil was suitably impressed as his globetrotting and socially aware self had recognized and met several of them.  So, I was all excited feeling I had brought this man to the perfect setting.  The food was a several course meal that Julian and Trideep ordered for us.  I never order from the menu.  For when I am at Four Seasons, I am a fanatic Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian.  And I make it my thing to test the kitchen to create a special memorable meal for me.  And they have always done better than anything I would have wished.  I have had my favorite vegetarian meals here.  We ended a LONG lunch with us having observed an entire lunch service.  We came at the very beginning and left after everyone else.  Nikhil was given bottles of some homemade fruit jams that a customer had left for Julian.  Julian was kind enough to share a bottle.  On our way back, I asked Nikhil what he thought of the restaurant.  His opinion: " it is great that America is learning how to serve fine meals, finally".  I reminded him that this was a 40-year-old restaurant that has been consistent with such service.  He let me know that many restaurants that he had visited in those 10 days, where he had similarly been charmed by owners, chefs, managing partners and fine servers, he was yet to find attention to detail and the desire to serve with humility and an intrinsic need to share happiness with a stranger.  "People in the US make a job out of service, they are not happy to serve.  Why is it that they cannot get therapy without having to pay a shrink for it in simply learning to share?  I can see the unhappy faces, the trite smile, the forced servitude and the false largesse.  It is so fake.  Come back to India, let me show you real service, given by those that do not know what acting is."

My point with this:  There are always many sides to every story.  Here we had this man who has traveled the world, was born with a diamond studded golden spoon in his mouth.  Wears clothing given him by top fashion designers as gifts for they know he travels in segments of society that they want to show their stuff in.  And here, he seems to find better service and a more complete dining experience in his "fancy" Indian restaurants. Fancy is a word we Indians love to use.  He did go back and do a story on the Four Seasons.  And Trideep was so happy; he called and told me about the article.  For my friend and I talk about everything but work.  He had sent me a copy with a snide remark about how he had done me a favor by writing about this experience I so loved.  But Trideep was excited as he was getting e-mails and calls from friends and family that had read about his restaurant and work in India.

Since that luncheon, I realized that I could do little if anything in the US to charm an Indian socialite, elite or hipster.  They have traveled and dined and experienced a much wider array of stuff than what America has to offer.  While they find great food here, they complain about the service.  When they find good service, they find the food poor.  When they find both, they find the diners tacky and badly dressed.  They are more forgiving about France and Spain.  Those are two countries I never hear them complain about. London is like second home.  Many Indians believe it is an avatar of India.  Now, I tell them to read the Time Out listing, go online and ask their other friends.  Make their choices themselves and dine without me.  Most of them, now choose to eat with friends at home, go to holes in the wall and rely on France for food, Italy for shopping and London for fraternizing.  America is a smaller trip to come and gawk at those heathens that dress as they would in bed at night, but are seen roaming around airports and flying as co-passengers in that same night-dress.  

My point here:  every person has their own perspective, every group of people can find something fine and another can come and reduce it to nothing.  But there are certain constants today.  And they are found in similar proportions across the larger cities of the world.  I found New Delhi, Bombay and Singapore in this last trip very similar to NYC in their dining experiences.  In fact some restaurants, the reasonable ones, were far better in those cities than what we offer in NYC.  Our high-end celebrity chef driven restaurants certainly are a class apart.  

The restaurants with great food and amazing ambience are already there in India.  At least in the larger cities.  Are they where the really rich or the older middle class goes?  No.

They remain the haunt for the single scene that as Jinmyo pointed out need a place to be themselves and away from the associated identities of their larger families.

But is it changing the Indian Food scene?  No.  When I say Indian I mean the foods that were native to India.  The trendy, chic, haute restaurants are now serving fare you would find at a Balthazar or any other trendy restaurant in NYC.  They are able to now source every ingredient that makes such food.  That has made all those dishes that were once only found in richer homes, now finding their way into restaurants that serve a huge chunk of the populace.  The Indian affluent Middle Class is a growing group and growing in millions.  The American government and industry are not courting India for a love of the land and culture; they see in India a vibrant, free, democratic and amazing rich and populous Middle Class with reason to spend money.  

As youngsters like my own brother find jobs after educating themselves, many do not need to worry about housing, food etc. that is provided for by the parents and theirs.  It is the custom.  In fact, to preserve a fractured sense of the old joint family system where all from one family lived under one rood, today smarter parents that want their children close to them, but not feeling stifled, have created home with multiple units.  These are independent and yet in one plot of land.  This gives the sense of being together and a safety for the entire family and yet gives the younger generation a sense of freedom and independence.

But this comes with zero cost on mortgage etc. Mind you I talk about the urban few (the high income and the high-middle income groups) that account for now several hundred million.  These are the people that travel the globe, eat out many times a week and frequent restaurants.  But would they eat Indian food at a restaurant?  That still remains a lesser-frequented reality.  They are more apt at eating Italian, Thai, Chinese, Mexican, French and American food when they are out.  Fusion restaurants also fall into their hot list.  Indian restaurants are relegated to that list which one goes to when treating friends that may not be "as hip" or the elders that may have a less broad palate.  Thus, these trips to Indian restaurants are relegated for some odd functions and occasions around the year.  Indian food is eaten, enjoyed, cooked and celebrated best in Indian homes.  Do I see that trend changing?  Not anytime soon.

There is a large chunk of the Indian middle class that made their money since the mid 1990s.  These are people that had so much money come into their hands all of sudden that they did not know what to do with it.  Many did not even show their income in taxes, so they had significant portions of disposable cash.  This accounted for a large trend towards garish spending in India.  All of a sudden a people that would normally shy away from public display of wealth, realized they had little they could do with their money.  If they used that money to buy land, invest in banks or do other stuff that may have needed some proof of income earning, they would have been caught as being tax-evaders.  So, this group has changed India drastically, they have given India a new vigor in retail.  All of a sudden India found itself needing newer and trendier cars, fancy restaurants, regional restaurants, art galleries, antique stores, bookstores, newer jewelry stores and all kinds of new outlets for a hungry people to shop and spend their disposable money.  It has been great for the economy and also for the retailers.  

The restaurant scene changed in that more and more regional cuisine restaurants have opened up in the larger cities.  Focusing clearly on the cuisine of a selected region and even within that region some restaurants have found a clever way of focusing on one style of food.  Like in the US, Indians are now understanding and using the power of Marketing and Clever Speak that resonates well with a certain type of consumer.  Like in the US, this is a substantial and meaningful part of the population and more and more new stuff is being created just to attract this population.

In Bombay there is a Health Club that was started a few years back called the Club House I believe.  Chuck and I were there a month or so back.  Entering it, one feels you are going into a building grander in scale than the White House.  The building is all white and is mantled on all sides by parks that are huge in size.  It is in a now very affluent suburb of Bombay called Andheri.  The owner, a man trained at Cornell in the 60s and who worked with several American Hotel Groups and then went back to join his fathers own Hotel Chain in India, has brought to India the American Style Heath Club and Spa with the Indian style decadence and over the top grandeur.  My sister and parents have membership to it, and they kept telling Chuck and I they wanted to take us to the Club.  And I was making faces that Chuck clearly understood as being skeptical of this trip.  I was laughing inside at them, thinking as to how little they know their son, after having given them that chance, I am back with humility and shame for having felt the way I did.  I was being dismissive of them and what they may find "World Class".  Every comfort you can find at a Spa of any repute around the world, was afforded to the members, there were several dining experiences planned.  Chinese, Continental, Pub, South Indian, Mughal, Coffee House, Heath Food etc... And then the amenities.  Service staff trained, dressed and hired in numbers that would ensure that every member gets any and all their needs met.  I was more than impressed; I needed to meet the owner.  In fact we had a meal with him later and at the meal, he had invited the owners and heads of the larger hospitality industry players.  These people spoke the language we "foodies" speak in NYC, London or Paris.  They knew all the big names of the business.  Had hosted the chef of Union Square Cafe on his trip to India, had been the private hosts to another so and so.. And so on.  There is no gulf that exists between India and the US today in the major cities.

But then you do have the hundreds of millions that as Simon points out, live with the very minimum a human being can have.  Some even below what one would consider minimum.  That is the gulf that we need to worry about, but Alas, all of us, myself included, spend more time worrying about trends that affect a much smaller portion of the human population.  The larger part of our population would not care to worry about such trivial topics as I spend my days writing about even for a moment.  They need to worry about how they can find for their young, dependent elders and themselves the next meal of the day. Sometimes, the first and only meal of a day or week.  

Steven P, the dining out has nothing to do with home cooked food.  That is and will remain significant in most all-Indian lives.  Across the many religions, communities and regions, I find people that after eating out 3 meals a day in India crave in despair the foods they eat at home.  Household help is not easy to find.  At least reliable and trained ones.  But more importantly, the young, who now seem to be earning much more than the young of my parents generation, have no time or patience to indulge in these employees.  They cannot think of having to worry about another person living in their small apartments.  They choose not to hire anyone and so, eat out and complain about missing home cooked food.  Those that stay at home and those that stay in the same plot of land as their families find that they have a constant supply of home foods that calm their palates and greed for good home food.  To most Indians there is no substitute for a home cooked meal.

In fact, friends of mine (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and friends from across the world that I have made in NYC) are always begging me for inviting them over. What are they craving?  In the words of a friend that dined yesterday with me in the kitchen with 3 other friends, "food made with love, seasoned with care to heal mind, body and soul, and resplendent with all luxuries of a 6 star environment.  It is this Suvir, which makes me want to be at Chuck and your home many times a week.  Maybe you could find me an Indian spouse that could recreate that magic."

What magic?  It was the magic of making Bhel Puri (that much discussed street food from Bombay) and Ragda Chaat (white peas and potato patties served with Tamarind Date Chutney, Mint-Green Chili Chutney).  That was how simple the meal was.  We were gathered in my kitchen, first this one friend and I, stuffing grape leaves.  It is a recipe that this friend has from her family; Chuck and I can eat 20 each of these in one sitting.  We made 56 of them last evening.  The other friends joined as we were wrapping up.  I made the Tamarind-Date chutney as we rolled the leaves and the ragda got completed an hour later.  With some wine, coke and campari-orange, we were a happy bunch of five, eating simple food in a kitchen table and sitting on stools and chairs.  

Each guest had more disposable income than the other, have dined more than most foodies I know in trendy, chick and fancy restaurants, but each of them, several times a month, crave this food from India.  Like at home, it is served warm, fresh and in beautiful antique china, with antique glassware and eclectic serving platters and bowls.  And of course it helps to have in our home a rich sensual style of interiors as some say America or the West can never do.  Layers of textures, colors, antiquities, masks and statues, tchatchkas from our travels and those of friends, messy piles of mail and books and other junk, and Chucks tropical tiny garden thriving on the deck adjoining the living room that one can see from the waist level opening in the kitchen that looks onto the living room and from there on to that jungle that has herbs I need, Curry Leaves and Jasmine blossoms of all the many varieties.  

Why would one want to be at a stuffy restaurant?  Says a famous NYC food critic.  To this critic, this tropical paradise affords them the food that does not sit heavily on their stomach, a setting that is immediately very comforting and also without any fuss or sterility, and above all conversations that thrive like they could never at a restaurant table.  While the latter is their profession and income, the former, a home meal, their passion and desire.

So, that said, I do not think India will lose its home cuisine that easily.  Yes it is changing with time.  And in the right directions.  One sees it becoming increasingly lighter in fat and cream.  Without becoming macrobiotic and unpalatable in my book.  It is incorporating produce that has come to India recently and playing with it to create dishes that seem they were always Indian.  These are the changes taking place.

Indian restaurants have a life very unique and of their own.  Have little to do with the private world of the Indian masses.  For the larger majority of India can either not afford restaurants or those that can, many choose to still entertain in grand style at home.  It is the young and the single or childless couples that are more apt at going out.  Once you get to be of a certain age, and of a certain prominence in your own circle, it is still expected of you to entertain at home and share a personal, grand and very intimate experience with your friends and family.  

PS: Tony, India already has the dining experience you talk about.  And it is evolving faster than we imagine.  Will that erase the extension on the streets of home-style food or street food? No.  That is not going to happen anytime soon.  The Indian middle-class is not happy eating just Indian food that we eat in restaurants in London and NYC.  They want something different.  That is why Bombay has the best Thai restaurant in the world.  Amazing food and beautiful setting, at the President Hotel.  They want new stuff; they are getting it and will keep wanting more as time goes by.  As we want more of the east in our world in the west, they have similar cravings for things foreign.    IN fact my partner at Jacks Fifth in New York and Pondicherry has opened three restaurants in Bombay that offer exactly that which you are hoping India would offer.  And since he has run 2 Star, New York Times rated restaurants in NYC, he has taken back that finesse to India.

PPS:  As Simon rightly points out, Street Food has no connection to restaurant food whatsoever.  It is food that may take generations for those not raised with it to understand but that does not dilute the integrity and uniqueness of that food.  It is rich in culture as ancient as the countries where it is served, enmeshed in lore and traditions and tales and memories.  There are times when I am sad and in mourning when I at least living in NYC, cannot fathom seeing those fake smiles I would get in fancy NY restaurants.  Where do I go, to a Hot Dog cart and make do with a Potato Knish, a miserable substitute for the hundreds of street food snacks I could have found back home.  But a perfect one for my state of mind.  It is that association with a culture and food and way of living that does not change as easily as some may hope or wish for.  When that changes, India would have changed radically as well, losing some its very own life and history.  And would certainly be poorer for it.

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Tony and Simon, you have covered everything.  And so wonderfully.  

Chefs today come from all kinds of homes.  Actually, in my brothers class, at lest 3 of his classmates went to Hotel School.  Most of them ended up being on the management side, but I know of some of their friends, from the same middle class families who chose to be chefs.

I was living in Bombay with a friend who is now in Boston that came from an affluent family, was a chef at Under The Over in Kemps Corner, the first Western Style Restaurant that was free standing outside of a hotel in Bombay of any repute.  This was over 10 years ago.  He was proud being a chef and so was his family.  So, in India, like in the US, chefs are now becoming kind of celebrities.  Many of my friends are jealous of me, for having done little more than cook; I seem to get more media in India than they do.  Many of who do great stuff for the Indian economy and work much harder in corporate jobs.  But in India as here, it is the creative types that are now getting media and attention

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It is curious to me that I have never developed a palate for Indian food, though I have been served what was purported to be some of the best in its class.  

(I started a new thread with this topic).

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Thanks to all for a fascinating thread;I spent a month traveling around India a few years ago,and quickly realized that most good food was probably being served in private homes.I also spent a lot of time in the street markets[ my afternoon in the pink city in Jaipur was totally fascinating and overwhelming].The produce often did not look real appealing-where do wealthy people [or their cooks] purchase produce?Do purveyors come to them?Do they grow their own?

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Most of the middle class and upper middle class and the rich have vendors coming to their homes in carts.  The produce is lovely.  In fact it is a morning ritual in all streets.  The Sabzee Waala (Vegetable Vendor) will make his characteristic call and women of the house or chefs will come out and rush to the gate of the home to make sure they can get the stuff they need.  

When my grandmother was planning bigger parties, the vendor was told in advance what she needed and how much.  He would bring that amount the next morning.  All fresh and perfectly sized for her.  For, if stuffed baby eggplants were being made, she would need the tiniest ones.  If Bharta was being made, they needed the large oval eggplants.  If Kathal was being made, Jackfruit was needed.  So on and so forth.  

Just 6 weeks ago when in Goa we passed several fruit vendors that had the most amazing looking produce.  Beautifully displayed and in perfect ripeness and clean.  At the side of the intra-state highway.  Chuck and I had no need to buy produce since we were staying at the Taj Property, but I had to make my little stop to relive this experience.  I spent no more than $10 and was able to procure fruits and vegetables for our driver to take home to his family.  He said it was too much and that his family would have stuff for the next few days.  

My parents spent 2 years in Ludhiana a very prosperous and rich city in Punjab.  Their backyard was their kitchen garden.  No more than maybe a 1/4 NYC block.  In this they grew all they ever needed to cook with.  In fact the soil, my mother tells me is so very good that they had such amazing harvest that they were always giving away the produce to neighbors and friends.

Our friend Rohit Bal, a famous fashion designer in Delhi has his own farmhouse no more than 40 minutes away from South Delhi.  He grows artichokes, asparagus, brocoflower, water chestnuts, Romanesque cauliflower, corn, potatoes, carrots, celery, strawberries et al.. Right in the closest suburbs of urban Delhi.  So, when we were in Delhi, the food we ate in his home was all made with homegrown produce. The meats were brought at the local butcher.

Many of our other friends have their own farmhouses as well.  Some stuff is brought from vendors that come to the homes and the remainder is what is harvested daily from the farm.  But mind you, this is the life of the wealthy.  The middle class and the upper middle class have the vendors come home as I described above.

In our home in Delhi, the vegetable vendor came home every day.   The Kabari Waala (recycled goods buyer) came once a week; he would buy from my grandmother all the recyclable goods.  The Namkeen Waala came twice a week (Snack Vendor) and what we brought from him would make for those snacks we eat between meals.  Or when guests come over and you need to serve something as you prepare the pakoras or chaat or bhel puri.  And there were many other vendors selling other stuff or providing other services that would come on a scheduled basis.  It is great.  For after 9:00 AM, the streets in Indian neighborhoods have the sounds of many vendors selling different stuff and each announcing louder than the other their arrival and presence.

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Suvir,  may I ask you a personal question?  Are you single? How old are you?  I am young and cute and looking for a nice date from the area.  My father would be very proud of me if I were to bring one like you home as my date.

But jokes aside... how old are you?  I have been reading your posts on egullet for a few months now.  And finally decided to register.  I was very intimidated by your vast knowledge.  

I am a student in NYC and I feel like I should ask my college teachers to bring you to speak to us about the Indian world you write about.  I grew up with a large Moslem family, and we were taught to be very meek.  I see an agression in NYC that I cannot seem to find in myself.  You are able to give someone like me an outlet.  I would love to write you a message and see if I can meet with you and have you speak to the South Asian group of my school.

We need people like you that are role models.  You have all the values my parents have shared with me and yet look to be close to my elder brothers age.  That is the only reason I ask.

You are eloquent in sharing the many things that make the people from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh more similar than what the leaders of the world care to look at.  My father was moved by the poems you shared on another thread.  To which I am yet to respond.  I am scared that my being a woman and Moslem would make me target of much hate.  

Where do you eat your favorite Indian foods?  Where do you find your inspiration from?  Your ability to talk about India and its foods and its neighbors.. how can you do it as a profession?  Does it get tiring?

What is it about Indian food that make syou want to share it with others?  Have you traveled to Bangladesh?  Do you like Bengali desserts?

Will have more to say in the next few days.  I hope I have not embarassed myself and you.

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  • 8 months later...
Indian cruisine has never crossed my lips as having smelled curry I know I do not want to taste it.  Curry seems to be added to everything.  Can't food be prepared without it?


The depth and breadth of Indian cuisine extends far beyond curry. Yes it's an important part of the whole, but it would be ridiculous to suggest that curry is added to everything.

Have a look around the India forum for examples of what I talk of. Then get yourself a Lime Kulfi and reconsider :biggrin:

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Indian cruisine has never crossed my lips as having smelled curry I know I do not want to taste it.  Curry seems to be added to everything.  Can't food be prepared without it?


What is curry? What do you smell in curry?

What is this "curry" that you say is added to everything?

Indian food is prepared with a variety of herbs, spices, seeds, stalks, grains and legumes. Flours are also used as well as dairy, fish, meat, poultry and vegetables.

So what is this "curry" that you do not like??

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  • 17 years later...
  • 3 months later...
On 3/28/2020 at 8:30 AM, shawarma_prince said:

Biryani was invented during the Mughal period but who invented the dish?


This may be a rhetorical. I don't think anyone or any food experts will pinpoint exactly who invented the biryani that we know and love. At best, we could only go by folklore or anecdotes. What's fact concerning biryani have been said in the thread, it was brought into India by the Persians (Mughals). Cuisines like Lucknow, formerly Awadh (Awadhi Cuisine) have many scents called ittars used in their cooking. Common scents are kewra (screwpine essence) water and rose water, and let's not forget saffron!


The anecdote surrounding the "invention of the biryani" is something I like and that is: Biryani was army food. Nothing fancy as it is today. It's simply a meal to nourish the bodies of soldiers and workers under the employ of the who ever was ruling back then. Only when the army food went into the royal kitchens, it became fancier...for the palate of the royal(s): using ghee, better quality meats, spices, and edible perfumes (ittars/attars...e.g. culinary grade essential oils).

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5 hours ago, Ronald N. Tan said:


This may be a rhetorical. I don't think anyone or any food experts will pinpoint exactly who invented the biryani that we know and love. At best, we could only go by folklore or anecdotes. What's fact concerning biryani have been said in the thread, it was brought into India by the Persians (Mughals). Cuisines like Lucknow, formerly Awadh (Awadhi Cuisine) have many scents called ittars used in their cooking. Common scents are kewra (screwpine essence) water and rose water, and let's not forget saffron!


The anecdote surrounding the "invention of the biryani" is something I like and that is: Biryani was army food. Nothing fancy as it is today. It's simply a meal to nourish the bodies of soldiers and workers under the employ of the who ever was ruling back then. Only when the army food went into the royal kitchens, it became fancier...for the palate of the royal(s): using ghee, better quality meats, spices, and edible perfumes (ittars/attars...e.g. culinary grade essential oils).

Mughals were technically Turks but I imagine they used a lot of Persian chefs in their kitchen.


I think Paulo would have been what the armies ate no?

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  • 3 years later...

The word "biryani" most likely came about from the Mughal kitchens, no doubt about it.

But the actual dish was much older than the Mughals and for sure came from Persia.


Honestly, biryani and pilaf probably had the same origin, because they both involve cooking in one pot.

My theory is that biryani became the upscale royal version of Paulo.




But what do I know?

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