If you ask an American tourist to describe Indian food, the word that comes up most often is – ‘Hot’! And there a quite a few American tourists who would shed tears (not of joy, though!) after tasting the Indian cuisine. They find it too spicy (or did you say ‘hot?). Almost all Indian food is spicy but not all are ‘hot’ because spicy and ‘hot’ are not synonyms!
Simply put, you could say that American food is a lot of potatoes and meat and Indian food is a lot of vegetables and spice. Both countries have cuisines that have been influenced by a lot by other countries. America is a land of immigrants and they all have blended their native flavors to create the American cuisine as it is known now.
India was invaded by the Moghuls, Asiatic, and the Europeans, followed by the British. Naturally, they all have left a hint of their tastes on Indian flavors and the end result is a lip-smacking array of delicious dishes. You have to taste it to believe it.
There are delectable Indian dishes that bring out the best of the taste and health benefits of aromatic spices. Here’s a guide to help you through the variety of scrumptious Indian food and give an insight into how it is different from the American cuisine.
Vegetarian Indian Vs American Food
An estimated 40% of Indians are vegetarian, due to cultural and economic reasons. So, every state in India has its own vegetarian specialty dishes depending on local produce and other prevalent traditions. The same vegetable curry (yes, curry is not just for chicken!) can be made differently in different parts of India. The spices and oil used will result in a subtle change of flavor that is also distinctive!
For example, the southern state of Kerala has coconut trees in abundance. Consequently, there is a huge variety of snacks, starters, main course, and desserts using coconut as a base ingredient. Coconut oil is used for cooking and frying purposes. Maharashtra uses peanut oil, Tamil Nadu sticks to Sesame oil, and the eastern states prefer to use mustard oil for cooking vegetables. The cooking method and a dash of spices make all the difference.
American vegetarian food is not without variety but it doesn’t have as many spices as the Indian ones do. Since the majority of population eat meat, you have to specifically mention that you want a vegetarian or vegan option with no meat. Corn bread, potato salad, apple pie, and pumpkin pie are among the American dishes that are vegetarian.
Many burger places will replace the meat with cheese or soya patty. Thai food and Chinese eateries also make special versions of their delicacies for vegetarians and vegans by substituting meat with tofu.
Italian food is a great favorite with vegetarians. There always are pizzas with a wide variety of vegetable toppings and cheese. Pasta with vegetables and a selection of mouthwatering sauces can appease any vegetarian craving. Healthier versions of multigrain and whole wheat pasta are gaining popularity. Baked potatoes are a staple favorite for many tourists.
Chinese, Thai, and Italian are all available in India, both in their authentic and Indian versions. Be ready to taste ‘Chatpata’ (spicy) noodles and paneer (Indian cottage cheese) pizza. They are as good as the original, only with a dash of India’s trademark ‘masala’ (spices).
Non-Vegetarian Indian Vs American Food
‘Chicken tikka’ and ‘Chicken curry’ have become such common delicacies across the world that it is unnecessary to even describe what the dishes are. Spices are generously added to cooked chicken and the curry is allowed to slowly draw in all the flavors to produce this universal favorite. No wonder ‘curry’ and ‘tikka’ have marched their way into dictionaries. ‘Anda’ is egg in Hindi. Egg-lovers will have a treat with ‘Anda burji. That is scrambled eggs for you! There are special delicacies prepared with mutton and sea-food too. You only have to ask. Contrary to ‘popular’ depiction of India in movies, you will find that most people in India do understand and speak a splattering of English at least.
Most of the cultural dishes of the West involve meat. So, American food is largely meat-based. Burgers, sausage, hot dog, and fried chicken are the staple non-vegetarian food in the USA.
When you are travelling around India, make sure you try the regional cuisine that is unique to each state. You will be pleasantly surprised by the assortment of flavors that assault your taste buds!
Hope you found this article informative! Do check out “Cultural Shock American Travelling to India Should Expect and How to Avoid It”