Indian Food is too spicy: Stereotype or truth?
Indian cuisine is said to be the most diverse cuisine in the world with its exotic ingredients, unique use of herbs and spices, mouth watering and tongue tickling flavours and a large assortment of dishes. Indians take great pride in their food because almost every province has its distinctive cuisine. Sadly, the perception in foreign lands about this country’s food is that it’s just spicy ‘curry’ or food full of ‘masala’ (spices). Indeed spices do form an integral part of this world-famous cuisine, but they are not the only definable aspect of it.
Most of the ‘Indian’ food eaten by people outside of India has mainly originated from the northern part of the country which is an agrarian land and thus the produce is naturally gorgeous. The red hot gravies and piquant Biryani are usually prepared on special occasions only in Indian households. The food that most Indians eat on a daily basis is very basic and does not have a high spice quotient. Their staple food consists of some preparation of lentil (dal), stir fry vegetables with mild spices and flatbread (roti) or rice, not thick gravies and Masala Tikkas/Kebabs. It is true that Indians use a lot of spices and condiments in their food, but not all of them are hot and spicy, most of them are added for intense flavours and unique fragrance. Indian restaurants outside of India tend to serve the same monotonous dishes because of the opinion that ‘what is familiar sells the best’ and thus people abroad are not exposed to the diversity in Indian cuisine. This is the primary cause behind the re-enforcement of such stereotypes. Just like Italian cuisine does not comprise only pizza and pasta, Indian cuisine also is not just spice and curries.
A large number of Indians are Lacto-vegetarians, so milk and its by-products form a huge part of the cuisine. It’s the Indian palate which combines sweet and savoury in a unique way. A dairy product such as ‘paneer’ (Indian variety of cottage cheese) is mixed with stewed vegetables and mild spices in different ways to get a broad menu of vegetarian and not so spicy dishes. Indian food boasts of the largest collection of vegetarian dishes and not all of them are yellow curries and red gravies.
Cuisines of a region are always in the state of evolution; the classics are replaced with new flavours. Indian cuisine combines fairly basic and cheap ingredients to make great dishes. The nation’s spices and their proper use are exclusive to it. Their kitchen comprises a whole palette of flavours – sour, sweet and spicy all at once – which increases the desire to eat. The Indian menu card is very extensive with so many appetisers, breakfast items, Tiffin items, snacks, main course meals, chutneys, yoghurts, pickles, drinks, desserts that this food heritage incomparable. Indian food is not just one type of food. Whenever you pay a visit to India, you’ll realise that Indian cuisine is an amalgamation of so many cultures and their intense flavours. Indian cuisine has something for everyone. So whether you like spicy red hot curries or its mild variants, this cuisine has a lot in store for you!