Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Indian Food: Restaurant vs. Home-Cooked

When most people go out for Indian food these days, it is somewhat of an event. To be sure, if you’re in the mood for something different and flavor-packed, Indian food is the way to go. At home, I eat Indian food about five times a week, and I still jump at the opportunity to go to an Indian restaurant, in large part because it is an experience in and of itself. What is more interesting, however, is that I can get the same culinary experience at a restaurant than I would at home. 

There is no standard for home-cooked Indian food, as this varies greatly by region and even household. However, I can safely say that if my family was to make the equivalent of Indian restaurant food at home, it would only be on very special occasions. This food, though undoubtedly delicious, is perhaps a little too rich to have on a daily basis. Everyday Indian food, therefore, is characterized by its simplicity. A typical meal that I’d have back home would consist of a few pieces of chapati or roti, which are a sort of flatbread, some type of dal (a soup or stew-like dish made of lentils or dried beans), a portion of vegetables prepared with spices and herbs, and rice. 

By contrast, in a restaurant, you would usually first find a chaat section, which consists of a series of savory "snacks," followed by naan (a thicher, leavened, and oven-baked flatbread), rice, and vegetable dishes. There are normally some chicken, mutton, or lamb entrees; the most common are Tandoori Chicken, which is marinated in yogurt and seasoned with tandoori masala, and Chicken Tikka Masala, a dish with pieces of chicken in a creamy, tomato-based sauce. There are often different types of specially prepared and seasoned dals such as sambar, a type of spicy soup that is especially popular in parts of South India. To top everything off, you can often find an assortment of desserts such as rice pudding, gajar halva (a carrot dessert made with milk and sugar) and gulab jamun, which consists of bits of dough in a sugar syrup infused with rosewater, saffron, or cardamom seeds.

This difference is good to keep in mind; if you ever have the opportunity to literally get a taste of everyday Indian culture, be prepared for a very different, though just as tasty, experience!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...