There is no such thing as the ‘Indian cuisine’

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Before I traveled to India, during the time where we prepared our temporary relocation, I answered the question ‘Do you like Indian food?’ many times. I always responded with a firm ‘yes’. You could definitely wake me up for some good prepared Indian dishes, I really love the Indian cuisine! However, after a while I started to think more in depth about this question. I have had many Indian lunches and dinners during my stay in India, so it would be very easy to create a better opinion on this topic. And, this would be my experience. Am I still an Indian-cuisine enthusiast? Some of the experiences were fine, a lot of them were good and some of them were actually excellent. But if I backtrack all the experiences that I have had up to now I get anything but a clear view. My insight; there is no such thing as an ‘Indian cuisine’. Yes, there are some dishes and ingredients that are used and served everywhere. Indian chai for instance, is served in many parts of the country. And ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and red chilli (of course) are ingredients that could be found in kitchens in the north, south, east and west. And although some of the tastes of dishes are always ‘Indian’, there are some immense differences. If you state this boldly, which I will do now, you could say that they prepare more mild food in the north and more spicy food in the south. The south is the home of the masala dosa, one of my favorite snacks. It is also known for the very spicy and tasteful (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) curry’s, eaten with what is considered ‘the staple food of the south’: rice. North Indian people prefer to eat bread with their lunch or dinner. One of my favorites is the ‘garlic naan’, especially when they prepare it with ghee. And the tandoori oven is the way to cook meat or fish (or paneer/vegetables) in the north, with tender and crispy dishes. If you zoom in further you will notice some more differences. Every state has its evergreens and within the states you could find some more regional specialties. So when someone asks me now the same question, what should I answer? Maybe it is better to respond with a question: what Indian cuisine are you referring to?

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