Monday, 8 January 2007

Eating out

My NRI friends tell me that they love to come to India and eat, eat and eat. They love the Bhelpuri and Pani Puri from road side stalls, drinking hot tea on the corner of a lane and eating Pav Bhaji with lots of butter, then, there are Bhajias and samosa, grilled sandwiches and rolls. There is Dosa and Vada Sambar (a south Indian dish), Chinese bhel and frankies. You can see street food being chopped, cleaned and cooked before your eyes as the footpath sand, disturbed by the moving traffic, happily settles on your plate and you don’t care a damn.
The character of cuisine in India is essentially regional; the sheer size of the country has forced every area to develop a style of cooking of its own. In times gone by transportation was a problem, and this meant that each area had to come up with a style of food which made do with the locally available materials.

As a result, not only dishes, but flavors, colors, methods of cooking, down to even the style of cutting the vegetables, changes as often as the landscape does.

What has helped along this diversity is the amazing number of religions and the sects and sub-sects within them. Each sect often has strict dietary codes. For example, Hindu Brahmins are vegetarian and some Jains do not eat onions, ginger and garlic.

In Mumbai, food is available at every budget. For example, you can have fish for as low a price as Rs50 or as high as Rs1000. The taste may be the same, the difference lies in the ambience of the eatery.

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The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),

.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.

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