Modern Indian Food
Modern Indian food can mean different things in different areas of the world as Indian food has enjoyed a widespread growth since the eighties and early nineties to the Western world. Curries were even mentioned as far back as the early 1300s in the first cooking book written in England during the time of Richard II. England and Indian food has probably one of the longest relationships in history that has endured to modern times. Curry has become Britain’s favorite meal! With this all consuming love affair with Indian food, how does modern Indian food as we know it today in Britain differ from the traditional Indian foods of the past?
My parents and grandmother immigrated to England in the late sixties. My parents were from the northern region of India called the Punjabi Region. My mother and grandmother had a lot of mouths to feed to say the least with six children in my family. I would remember them making their homemade sauces and curries in our tiny kitchen. We always ate Indian food homemade and never bought store bought curries or sauces. It would take them around thirty to forty minutes to make a basic sauce or a curry and others would take much longer. Traditional Indian food and cooking consisted mainly that families cooked from scratch with very fresh ingredients that they purchased that same day as many homes did not have refrigeration. In traditional times, cooking was passed down from mother to daughter at a fairly young age by showing and teaching the daughter(s). This traditional method of cooking is also carried on today in many regions in India so many of the traditional recipes are still kept and carried in families.
On the weekdays, we would have only vegetarian dishes and on the weekends, oh boy, we would be served the best lamb and chicken curries ever! One of the stories I heard a lot while growing up was how my mum and grandmum would love using the communal tandoori oven in the village to make their traditional breads into the most mouth watering, soft breads that would melt into their mouths and grill their meats into the most tender meats that you can imagine. These stories would make my mouth water to imagine this wonderful tandoori oven where everyone in the village would gather as a social venue for friends and families to get together. This cooking method is still very popular in many villages across India today.
Most families in India also uses fresh spices whole and they would ground up the spices in their dishes. Not only that, they would spend time slow roasting the spices to make it more rich and flavorful. Spices such as saffron, cardamom, and nutmeg can be very expensive in Britain. Most are easy to come by, but some are only available in ethnic stores so finding the right spices can be a task. Also, a huge difference between traditional and modern Indian food is that in Britain and most of the world, they use a lot less chilies so it is a lot less spicy for westerners’ tastes and preferences.
Of course, many families today, mine included, do not have the time to cook traditional Indian food the old fashioned way. Most families are looking for something fresh and quick these days so many families are opting to use premade Indian sauces and pastes which offers them a full delicious meal within twenty to thirty minutes with fresh ingredients and no artificial colours, flavourings, and additives. Indian sauces and pastes are the new modern day Indian food movement! Having a great tasting sauce available not only saves you time and money, but offers many busy families like my own, the time to other FUN stuff! My wife and I can spend more time with my “Little Turban” chasing him around, playing with him, and having some alone time together.Posted on: 21st January 2013