This letter is in response to a recent article written by Taran Bassi for Metro UK. You can read the piece here.
Dear Ms. Bassi,
I began reading your piece with what I’d like to believe was an open mind. You see, while all my Indian food blogger friends were horrified and offended by your not-so-kind words on Indian cuisine, I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. Like you, I too was forced to eat Alu Gobi at least once a week as a kid; and like you, I too detested it. Growing up in a multi-cultural place with friends who ate more pasta than rotis, I too longed for the Sunday meal of Lasagna or a simple Roast dinner. However, that’s pretty much where the similarities between us seem to end.
Although I grew up in a household that cooked and served primarily North Indian food, it wasn’t until much later that I realized that India had so much more to offer when it came to satiating one’s palate. So much so, that I even ended up becoming a food blogger with a main focus on Indian food. While I do agree that Indian cuisine gets a lot of false hype of being difficult to cook and hard to accomplish successfully in a regular home kitchen, I encourage you to look around and maybe step into some of our kitchens and have a peek at what’s bubbling on the stove. As you don’t seem to quite realize, Indian home cooking is very different from what’s served at fancy restaurants or so-called curry houses. But I’ll set aside educating you on my Indian Cooking 101 crash course for another day.
Today, I’d like to just address the issues that are bothering me with regards to what you’ve written on Indian cuisine. Take it with a pinch of salt, if you will, or better still that Gaviscon in your pocket may actually help this time!
Let me start by saying that yes, if you eat Indian takeaway too often, you can and will get heart burn. And that’s with most cuisines, since everyone knows that restaurants are usually quite generous with adding in fat and spices to their food. Home cooked Indian food is a different story altogether. I’m yet to meet one home cook who lets her food drown in oil on a daily basis. Also, yes, the food is messy and the aroma lingers, but I think those are just traits of cuisines that are robust in flavor. Ever tried slurping on your spaghetti without splattering sauce on your shirt? As for the sharing part, you don’t have to. Go ahead and eat that Biryani all on your own, I won’t judge! Heaven knows I don’t want to have you picking at my Tandoori Chicken either!
Since India is such a vast sub-continent, flavor profiles vary tremendously. But the specific ones that you pointed out to – namely, chicken and coconut; well, I can just guess that you haven’t dabbled into Thai, Malaysian or any of the South East Asian cuisines as yet. Like the rest of world, I don’t really want to waste my time by telling you how well they work together. And Malai Tikka? Sorry babe, no form of coconut there whatsoever. What it does contain though is yogurt. But then again, yogurt is just cold and bland right?
Samosas are a snack, not a starter. And poppadoms? They’re actually called papad, honey! And who ever asked you to begin the foray into Indian cooking by making Gajrela from scratch? If you were smart enough to have any knowledge of Indian food (which after reading your article I believe, you don’t), you’d know to leave desserts for the pros. Start with a simple Dal maybe, or a Pulao loaded with veggies. That would’ve given you a stuffed tummy and a wonderful nap afterwards!
I don’t even know what to say about having chips as a side. I’m just wondering where you’ve had your meals from since I’ve never seen, or been offered something just so ridiculous! And you want mild Indian food? Then step away from the Vindaloo! Ever heard of Kadhi? Or Korma? Or Pulao? Clearly not! Then again, one of the main reasons that yogurt is featured in the meal, is so that it can help cool down anything that’s spicy. You’d understand that if you didn’t already diss it for being bland and useless on the table.
Cheese and chocolate? I challenge you to walk confidently into a Sushi place and ask for them to sprinkle some Parmesan on top of your Sashimi and bring a molten Chocolate cake for dessert. You won’t? Gee, I wonder why! And lastly, Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in Britain and we have no say whatsoever with what they want to name as their national dish. By all means, take it up with the Queen.
I do realize that I may have just wasted the last few minutes of my day shooting this note out to you. And honestly, I doubt it would make any difference in changing your mind or even opening it up to see Indian food in new light. But I just could not let it be. I felt that I owed it to the many who would read your article with no idea about Indian flavors. And if you’d like to give it another try, I’d love to have you over for a meal at my home. I promise to not make the food spicy and will also avoid serving you yogurt. And if you’d like to try stepping into the kitchen again, then you’ll find many quick, simple and tasty recipes on my blog. I’ll go now – my chicken curry won’t cook itself!
Big big big fan of your blog and cooking, dear Meena ?God bless you for what you do!!!
While searching for interesting food blogs and bloggers I stumbled upon your blog and your candid letter. Very well said!!. Indian cuisine is about aroma, taste, colorful texture and I think epitome of love which is infused while its cooked. Indian cuisine is not just Paneer Tikka or Butter chicken masala, the variety of dishes and completely different cuisine from region to region can only be found in India. Thanks for the candid letter!
Maybe I’m just too cynical these days, but whenever I read something like this (by which I mean Bassi’s article), I now find myself assuming that it is mostly being done to generate publicity. No such thing as bad publicity, right?…I’m finding myself wondering if people who write and publish stuff like this really even believe most of what they write…
Really Good response to the annoying headless article…I think she has not eaten proper home cooked indian food so far.
Great response to the stupid article by Ms Bassi. Someone needs to tell her that Indian food doesn’t have to be spicy. It’s mostly chilli that makes the food spicy and causes hearburn, and if you’re cooking at home then you can completely omitt the chilli and still have tasty Indian food, witn no heartburn afterwards. And also at most of the good restaurants, you can choose the spice level of your food if it is freshly prepared, you can ask them to make it mild. Same with the oil, it’s your choice how much oil you add to your food and which oil to add, I use extra virgin olive oil in most of my Indian dishes and it doesn’t cause any health problems. (I’m a British Asian girl by the way, and live in Britain currently).
Ujjaini Roy says
Excellent response! I can’t believe how ignorant this girl is and so full of trash. Have been a follower of your blog for a couple of years now and absolutely love your dishes.
Great response! Well written, makes your point and is amusing all at the same time. Indian food is delicious, one of our favorites. We have a lot of friends who think Indian food is spicy and unhealthy and we do our best to change their minds one meal at a time!
Stephanie Volkert says
Some people just like to complain for the sake of attention, which is what it sounds like Bassi was doing. It seems silly to rate any cuisine on how well the take out is. Go to a family-owned restaurant, one that isn’t part of a chain restaurant, and get authentic food, or try making it yourself by starting with an easy dish, THEN rate it.
Indian food is delicious. Period. 🙂
Great response to an ignorant person. Been following your blog from couple years now, felt this blog definitely deserved the kudos 🙂
Alanna @ One Tough Cookie says
What an interesting response piece! I hadn’t actually read/heard about the article it rebuts before, but you did a great job taking that piece down. It’s a shame when someone who understands so little about a particular culture’s cuisine — especially one as vast and nuanced as India’s — feels the need to write something so ignorant. Loved your response, and keep at it!
Kelly @jackandparker says
This is great. Eloquent response!! Personally I think Indian food is very much under appreciated. It’s my favorite cuisine to get people hooked on. Everyone’s always skeptical, but there are so many great Indian classics that once introduced, people see what they are missing.
Parvathy V Nair says
You said it right Meenakshi!! She has such an audacity to write such a thing . Indian food is not about greasy , spicy and smelly stuff . The south Indian appam , puttu , idly , dosa , vada . East Indian sweets to die for , west Indian farsans I can write an essay about gujrati , rajasthani and maharashtrian food . You don’t even have to mention states like MP , UP , Bihar the versatile cuisine we have . This shows how ignorant she is . Chicken tikka masala is a british dish we don;t have that in India !! .. I think we all should raise our voice against her
Very well said! Only outside India samosa is served as a starter….it’s a tea time snack….and our home made Indian food all those bhindi, ghiya and tori , tindora….etc nothing can match it neither in taste and nor in health.me and my husband refrain from eating Indian food outside because it’s different.anyother cuisine that we eat at restaurants is same FULL of grease! Even the Indian sweets are portrayed wrongly ….gulab jamun and jalebi…well we have much more kheer,sevai, halwa of all kinds,peda, milk cake…..the list is never ending.
I am glad someone spoke for our food…it is much more than spices and grease that is served in Indian restaurants!
Alka Keswani says
Very well said ! I hope the lady gets to eat some real Indian food to judge things wisely.
Kavya Rao says
I loved your reply! Thank you Meena, for replying on behalf of all of us.i would like to tell that girl this, If you dont like something dont just write rubbish about it just because you dont understand it or dont value it. Spread positivity instead of negativity.Tell her to write an article about something she loves instead.
Well written Meena! I feel a bit sorry for Taran as she clearly hasn’t tasted very good Indian food or indeed tried to understand some of the science behind it.
Well written and fitting. I think the girl has hardly tasted any decent Indian food. I assume that from her judgmental opinions. I appreciate that you took efforts to write back to her.
Good response!!! I can’t believe she actually wrote that article. Looks like she has never eaten proper food, let alone Indian food.
Love your blog Meena. Been a silent reader for more than 5 years now.