India is a very large country, 95 times the size of the Netherlands, and therefore has large differences in regional cuisines. Many people know the Indian cuisine from North India - this cuisine you also see in most of the restaurants in Europe - but the South (East) Indian cuisine also has a lot to offer. We spoke to Gaby. Her father was born in Kakinada, a large city in the state of Andra Pradesh in South-East India, after which he moved to the Netherlands at the age of eleven. When Gaby was young she went to India twice and in December 2019 she backpacked with her brother from the North to the South. Through the stories of her family, her travels and her innate love for food, she can tell us all about Indian food culture.
Gaby says the Andra Pradesh and Telangana regions of South East and Central India have many similarities when it comes to food. “The cuisine of these states is also referred to as ‘Telugu’ cuisine. Telugu cuisine is known as the spiciest cuisine in India. Much use is made of red chili peppers, which are also grown in Andra Pradesh. Because a large part of the Indian population is Hindu, they eat a lot of vegetarian dishes. This is clearly reflected in the dishes.
The eating habits in India are very different from those in the Netherlands. Basically, Indians eat with their right hand. Besides the fact that this is a tradition that has its origins in Ayurvedic beliefs (alternative medicine system), you become more aware of the flavors, textures and smells of the food. Besides, you eat more slowly and therefore more consciously. “Eating slowly helps you feel full faster so you have to eat less. By the way, never eat with your left hand in India! The left hand is considered unclean, ” Gaby explains.
“Eating with your hand makes you more aware of the flavors, textures and smells of the food"
Despite the fact that potato is often used in both cuisines, the Indian and Dutch cuisines cannot be compared. When we ask Gaby what she thinks of Dutch cuisine, she responds: I have always not really liked ‘Hollandse pot’. It has so little flavor and is not that exciting. But that may also be because I am used to the extreme smells and flavors of Indian cuisine. Still, I can certainly appreciate a pancake, stew with meatballs and pea soup from time to time! ”
When we ask what the Dutch can learn from Indian cuisine, Gaby laughs and says “Using herbs!”. The cooked vegetables with a piece of meat and potatoes can be a lot more flavorful by, for example, marinating the meat or grilling the vegetables and potatoes with some herbs. Yes, the famous AVG meal (potatoes, meat, vegetables) could use some Indian influences. ”
"The famous AVG meal could use some Indian influences"
In a meal, Gaby finds it important that there are contrasts. “By that I mean, for example, a creamy curry with a crispy fried chicken in it. Or combining something sweet with something salty. The best dishes are for her dishes where you are surprised because you have not tasted the flavors together before or which cause a true taste sensation because so many different spices are used.
Finally, Gaby tells us that food means a lot to her. Besides the fact that she really enjoys trying different dishes, cuisines and restaurants, it also feels like a beautiful way of coming together for her. “Food connects and is enjoyable. I can talk about it for hours. ”