The Obliteration of Indian Food

The obliteration of Indian Food. Where do I begin? The title sounds quite dramatic right? What can I do, I was thoroughly irritated when I penned this. You see, recently I’ve noticed a trend, something gets anglicized, it becomes a sudden trend. Exposing other cultures to the world, great. The problem is somewhere along the lines while becoming trendy, hip and widely accepted the item losses it’s authenticity.

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Let’s take food for an example, Indian Food to be precise. Belonging to the blogging community, I often find myself researching the hottest food trends. I was so perplexed when I saw a familiar yellow drink I grew up drinking labeled as “Golden Milk“, claiming all the benefits of the traditional medicinal drink. Golden Milk? Really? If you’re wondering about the drink bloggers and health fanatics seem to be raving about, it’s  Haldi Dhood (Turmeric Milk), you know the first thing your Nani or Dadi (grandmother) prescribed you when you were down with a cold. The problem isn’t with the world knowing our Ayurvedic secret ;). The problem is the extremes of recipes I see, mix agave, serve it on ice, add vanilla essence. There is a reason behind each spice in Indian cooking and Ayurvedic science. Turmeric is added as an antibiotic, a cleanser, honey to sooth the throat, black pepper for its warming properties and it’s all added to hot milk, where all the ingredients come together to warm and soothe the body.

Love Laugh Mirch_Cooking_1Then there’s this. Whatever it is, it’s not Biryani. They could have easily called this an Indian inspired Chicken bake but by calling it Biryani is an insult to Biryani. There are times I understand the need to translate a name, perhaps Kadoo ki saabzi doesn’t sound so appetizing at “curried pumpkin”. When I first started sharing my recipes I was lost on how to name my recipes without losing its authenticity. In the end I decided to call a spade a spade, saabzi is saabzi, translating is fine, but let’s not completely change the essence of a dish and remain calling it the authentic name.

Love Laugh Mirch_Cooking_2Now you’ll probably wonder why things like this get me so riled up. I’m no expert cook nor the sole representative of Indian food. I do however pride myself in trying to preserve authentic Indian homemade food. I’m trying to cook and document my grandmothers and mothers recipes so I don’t lose that homemade taste, my husband gets his childhood cravings satisfied and my daughter knows and appreciates what real, authentic Indian food tastes like.

So the next time you’re out for dinner, cooking with Indian spices or talking to a friend from another culture, familiarize yourself, understand that biryani doesn’t have to be like your grandmothers chicken bake, it can be someone else’s Nani’s Sunday special Biryani, and that’s okay.

Live deliciously friends.

5 thoughts on “The Obliteration of Indian Food

  1. Nisha, I see where you are coming from this and I am totally guilty of jumping on those train. Made both golden milk icecream and popsicles (so so so good) but I did grow up drinking turmeric laced milk for cold as sometimes upsets me when something vaguely similar is given a complete different name. I havent really tried those doctored recipes but i hope in future those authentic recipes wont lose its charm..

    great topic and something we all need to think about deeper 🙂

    1. Dixya, I did not mean to offend you in any way. I just wish people trying, sharing the recipes would give credit was given when due, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Golden Milk? I think not 😉

      PS that ice cream did look good 🙂

  2. Haha Nisha, I understand where you are coming for and I laughed when I first heard aboit “golden milk” (and for that matter chai tea – tea tea- seriously!). But then I thought about it a bit. The chinese must cringe at what we (and the americans) have done to their food and in all honesty I prefer the indian chinese over authentic chinese anyday. Its how food evolves, and for someone who has not grown up on the spices that indian food boasts of , it can be overwhelming and people will adjust it to their tastes and put a spin on it. As an indian blogger I agree we should stick to the original names so that we preserve our own heritage, but lets be proud that other countries are finally catching up to our dadima ke nuskhe and our abundant flavors. But I agree that chicken biryani is so NOT chicken biryani!

    1. Hi Shumaila,

      I whole heartedly agree that food evolves and that everyone should adjust spice levels to their liking. Trust me, I know that your dal makhani would differ from mine, that is the beauty of cooking – to make recipes your own. In this write up I was more so sharing my frustrations on how traditional dishes are being changed so much that they really don’t remain biryani’s, chai, or haldi dhood. I am proud that our age old remedies are being discovered, but let’s give them the credit they are due.

      And yes, I would take Indo Chinese over regular chinese any day, so I am guilty of this as well 🙂

  3. ” I am proud that our age old remedies are being discovered, but let’s give them the credit they are due.” <- My thoughts exactly. I like that the world is appreciating our culture, but I am not okay with younglings thinking "bindi, turmeric, yoga" are part of American culture. No they are not.

    P.S. Chai is actually originally from China. The world it self is also not hindi. But we had added our own spin to it! 😀

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