I have always believed that one of the best ways to immerse in the culture of a nation, is to taste their traditional food. So, I set about doing this on Day 5 of my stay in Mumbai, and I was impressed with the richness and wide variety of traditional Indian dishes available in restaurants and by street food vendors – from vegan to carnivore places and dishes. I chose to focus on five basic types of food for this post.
South Africa’s staple food base is maize (or corn), and India’s staple food base is rice (and spice, of course). I did not know this, but globally there are over 40,000 varieties of rice, and India has a very wide variety itself. Here are 2 food types, which you can loosely categorise as bread, which use rice as a base:
The Idli tastes like traditional South African dumpling. Like dumplings, yeast is used in Idli’s recipe, and it gets cooked through steaming. The difference is that the base of a dumpling is wheat flour. I had my Idli bites with spiced tomato chutney, just to tickle of my taste buds :)
I enjoyed Dosa crisp bread, not only because of its interesting triangular shape, but also because it tasted good. There are many different types of this bread (the chef’s count got very close to 10), including soft Dosa that is stuffed with mashed flavoured potato (yummy!).
Lentil is another Indian staple, and is used widely in many Indian dishes. Here are the 3 types of lentil-based ‘breads’ that I tasted:
I enjoyed the taste of all the 3 ‘breads’ above and also learnt that lentils are such a big part of Indian culinary. You can eat a whole 3-course meal from Dal (Lentil) Soup as appetizer, Dal Makhani as mains to Besan Ladoo (Lentil Dumplings) as dessert.
Khushboo, one of #SMWMumbai delegates, told me about many other Indian dishes that are sold by food vendors found in almost all Mumbai streets, such as Pani Puri. This made me appreciate Indian culture as expressed in their rich cuisine variety even more.