So this week I am going to make my blog post about all things food, vegetarian food that is. Basically, unlike the U.S., every region or town has their own set of food. I am in Chennai in the South of India. A lot of the foods here are rice and coconut based. The three main grains are rice, dosa (rice pancakes), and idli (soft, rice based cakes.) These are eaten with various dals, chutneys, and sambar. When possible, food is eaten with your right hand on a banana leaf. Some of the more common ingredients in these “sauces” are tomatoes, potatoes, sambar powder, onion, garlic, chilis, curry leaves, and coriander.
Then there’s the broad category of North Indian food. This is more similar to the Indian food we get in the U.S. They eat things like biryani (rice stir fry), parathas (pancakes filled with things), jeera rice, naan (bread kind of like a pita), chapati (bread similar to a flour tortilla), and paneer (cheese curds.) A lot of the “sauces” are like spicy vegetable gravies.
One of the things that really amazes me about these categories of food is how each family prepares the same dish so differently. Here, many people grow and crush their own spices (similar to how many people grow dill and basil at home) so every family’s set of spices is slightly different depending on the soil and climate of that region.
I live with people from the North and South of India. Every night I desperately write down what they are doing in the kitchen. After 8 weeks in India, I hope to be able to take some of the flavors and dishes into my kitchen in Ann Arbor. Writing about so much food, I think it’s time to take my lunch break. Bon appetit.
Author’s note: For those who know more about Indian food than I do, I am sorry for any mistakes I may have made in describing this wonderful cuisine.