Thursday, July 19, 2012

Indian Food
My Kingdom For a Decent Salad

Back before I lived in India I quite enjoyed Indian food. I would often make it my choice in food courts, I would sometimes dine in Indian restaurants and I would even attempt to make it at home. After three and a half years in India I don't dislike Indian food, I am just tired of it and it would no longer be my choice. And at the risk of being controversial I think the reason I am tired of it is because it all tastes the same.

The thing about Australian food is that it does not really exist. We just take what we like from everywhere else making the choices and flavours very diverse. Although not all Australians appreciate this as there are plenty who barely deviate from a bland diet with the standard dinner fare of meat and three veg.

Indian food however all seems to have the same undertones… a mix of turmeric, cumin, cardamon, coriander and cloves. When I first arrived in India I loved it all. The first lunch of dahl and rice at Sewa Ashram was the best thing I had ever tasted. But after eating it everyday for 6 months I could barely get down a single mouthful without gagging. Indian's of course never get sick of Indian food and a lot of them don't enjoy other types of food. Perhaps that is why there are so few foreign food restaurants here and even fewer that serve up anything worth ordering. The pickings are slim, even in food courts I struggle to find something appetising. In fact even in McDonald's just about everything on the menu has been Indianised.

In contrast just about every suburb in Sydney will have the following restaurants…Chinese, Indian, Thai, Pizza, Lebanese, Japanese, Fish and Chip and sushi. My taste buds weren't brought up with slight variance of the same flavours… it's all about diversity.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with the differing eating styles I am just saying that food choice is probably one of my biggest struggles here in India (a silly problem as living in India I am confronted with real problems on a daily basis). Some days, even after 3.5 years, I literally don't know what to eat. On those days it's a matter of finding something, anything that will keep the hunger away. Usually yoghurt, toast or a banana. In fact I went through a stage of making the most delicious banana bread a few times a week, until one day I realised it was just sitting there going moldy as the thought of eating another slice would make me gag… So I guess what I have learnt is I need to plan and I need to come up with new things that I can make and rotate.

It's not all bad really, it just takes a lot more planning and the choices are limited. I have to make a special trip to buy decent bread. I am yet to find good rocket or other salad greens. There are limited choices when it comes to good cheese and ice-cream… unless you are made of money. I would not even know where to start looking for fresh seafood that hasn't been swarmed by flies.

I am rambling now but here is a thought… In a city which has such hot weather for most of the year why do they eat all there food hot and their veggies with all the life cooked out of it?… Why not salads, gazpacho, cold noodle salads and soups, sushi, sandwiches.… I don't understand. By the way… they even fry sandwiches here!

I wonder if I would face the same dilemma in Japan… I have always considered sushi something I could eat everyday… I wonder how long it would take until I gagged.

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