Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Indian Food Myths

Myth #1: All Indians are vegetarians.
Fact: Not True at all. Vegetarianism is common, but not everyone is a vegetarian. It depends on one's religious beliefs, and personal choice, such as sensitivity for living creatures. There is a large Muslim population in India and a good number of Christians, and it is very unlikely they are vegetarians. Bengalis, such as ourselves, are not vegetarians either, Hindu or Muslim.

Myth #2: Indian food is so spicy and smelly.
Fact: This is more of an opinion, but it really depends. Yes, Indian food is based on heat and many spices, but don't let that scare you. There are plenty of dishes that mild. You really want to know what part of India the food you are eating originated from. Lets put it this way Indian food isn't really Indian food. They vary from region to region, and sometimes so distinctly that you wouldn't think they were from the same country. In Indian restaurants, the food they serve have no descriptions or discrepancies. They just serve you food that are famous or well known from different areas of India. It can be very overwhelming because you have all the spice blends of India under one roof. It's like sniffing every single perfume sample at the mall, your nose gets agitated. The best way to get familiar with Indian food is to taste from region to region. So if you have an Indian friend (who hails from a certain part of India such as Gujarat, Bengal, Punjab, Kerala and etc...) we suggest you go over their house for dinner. That way it will not be as overwhelming and the food will be better tasting than what you find elsewhere. You may even end up preferring one regions dishes over another. (just a last note, not all people from the same region cook equally. For example, Bengali cuisine, it will vary from people to people from where they live because of the resources available such as in the south of bengal people eat more fish as compared to the north because there are more rivers and an ocean nearby.)

Map of bengal region consisting of bangladesh and west bengal, India
Picture courtesy portcities.org.uk

Myth #3: You have to use as many 'Indian' spices as you can.
Fact: Absolutely Not! Mentioned above each region has their own spice blends and specialties. We really cannot go into too many details about spices all over the different regions of India. We are not quite familiar with them ourselves. But we will elaborate on Bengali spices in a future post. Check the label titled 'The Spice Cabinet' when it is posted. 

This is all for now, but if there are any questions please leave a comment below. We will add to the myths as necessary. We will also have a Q&A in future posts.

Posted by- Naz

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