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Touch of India

When we travel in Europe we search for Indian restaurants. Not just for the food, but for the Taste of India abroad.

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Touch of India

I love taking trips abroad while I am in Sweden. Trips taking abroad mean one thing for me, no more cooking for three days or more. Not that I am a bad cook, but you get bored with your own good. When we travel in Europe we search for Indian restaurants. Not just for the food, but for the Taste of India abroad. No clue what I mean? Follow me.

1. Desi Tadka

As long as there is an Indian or Pakistani who is the owner of the restaurant, he knows mostly how exactly you want your chicken vindaalo spicy or how much sugar you want in your carrot halwa. The biryani would be evenly grained and the lamb tender. The accompaniments — salads, pickles, papads — are just the way you expect.

2. Better hospitality

There is somehow always a better hospitality and maybe preferential treatment when you eat at an Indian restaurant abroad. They get mushy when they see Indian tourists. It is nice to get preferential treatment — some extra chutney, a table with a better view or a sweet dish of your choice.

3. The “Indian” touch.

There is something that lightens up within us when we see someone from the same nationality walk down the street. Likewise, the feeling when we see Indian faces, even strangers in an unknown land, atIndian restaurants stare back at us, is something else.

4. The ambience and feel.

Sometimes I get lost in the art at some restaurants — the brass utensils, the Rajasthani décor, the Rabindra Sangeet that slowly plays in the background while I eat my food. We get a feel of our India when we happen to eat in Indian restaurants abroad and our conversations are usually centered around things related to Indian art, music, culture, festivals, etc.

5. To talk in Hindi.

My personal favorite. It is wonderful going to an Indian restaurant abroad, because you often get to speak in your mother tongue, mine being Hindi. For a change sometimes, you love being raucous and jibber jabber with the waiters and the owners.

6.To get the little extra information about tourist destinations.

When we go to Indian restaurants, I always learn something special about the places I visit. Some offer helpful information about some unique touristic destinations, public transport, cheap shopping destinations and areas to watch out for.

7. To talk about places in India.

It is nice to learn about how people from remote places in India come abroad and settle down. Sometimes we meet people from places we know.

8. No animosity with Pakistanis

That’s what I love about being abroad. Unless there is an Indo-Pak cricket match or a Indo-Pak conflict, we are not really reminded every time that we do not see eye to eye with each other. In fact one of the best Indian food I have eaten abroad was at a Pakistani restaurant in Berlin , where they took wspecial care to tend to our food. We speak the common tongue, and eat the same food and never feel alienated when we meet or eat.

9. About life in abroad in general

We love talking about how their lives had been in general abroad? How did they open a restaurant here? Learn the language? How hard or easy it is to be here? Some of them have even families back home and long how much they want to go back, but can’t as they need to support their family.

10. Food not always at par, but the experience always is enriching

Not every Indian restaurant has been sumptuous. But we still thankful … for the efforts, for the Indian menu, for the rotis and the nans, or the smell of spices, or the taste of India abroad.

11. The sense of pride and humility

Trust me it is a sight to see “foreigners” tear up those nans and devour those delicious koftas. I like to go to Indian restaurants abroad, not just to eat, but to observe. Watch a little India in those meals made, served and eaten, entwined with spices, chillies, love, fun and mirth.

While I miss the street food, sweet meats and curries, while I long for the ginger tea, authentic chutneys and pickles, I find refuge here in little tastes of India.

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NRI | Commentary | Food | Travel | October 2014

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