Friday, March 12, 2010
These Inglorious Bastards...'Truly Indian?'
Ok, No one is allowed to groan....It's another post on food...But I just had to write it....This post is open-ended, hopefully it will bring more dishes to your memory - do send them to me, the most outrageous of them shall find 'meritorious' mention in the annals of my blog. Thanks The Analyst for setting the ball rolling so far as thinking about this post goes... India and China may not have much love lost when it comes to Foreign Relations...after all they are thought of as the Sneaky Chinese, aren't they? Supplying Pakistan with weapons to fight us with when the Indian intelligence has been distracted by squatters sent across the porous North-East borders so that the map along the far flung boundaries in Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir can be redrawn with red colour pencil and called Chinese territory!! Now I have developed a theory that I might put dub 'The Indian School of Action'. Theorising might be a new addition to my repertoire of skills, thanks to the vast amounts of academic calisthenics that you pursue that while you 'read for your MA'. The question framed: How does India deliver a sucker punch at the more powerful-more prosperous-more enterprising Chinese for their 'outrages'? Basic Premise: Attack them at what they have become famous across the world for, and mutilate it out of recognition!!!! Atleast that's what a lot of 'Indian Chinese' cuisine would have you theorise...It's 'authentic' Chinese food cooked in Indian spices, with soy sauce and loads of corn flour to gag an army with as the ingredients that make them Chinese bastards. And that's how Gobi Manchurian was born. And if the Chinese see it on the menu and think its a tribute to the Gobi desert that stretches barren through a great part of China, well, the ycouldn't be more mistaken!! It's the Revenge of the Indian! Gobi has nothing to do with China, but all to do with how the humble cauliflower is called in Hindi. So you batter fry florets in corn flour till you don't know where the congealed dough begins and the florets end and then dunk them in an unholy sauce made of more cornflour and soy sauce and green chillies with bits and pieces of capsicum and spring onions as floating survivors of the massacre. Now that's the first version that I tasted, later I realised that depending on the Indian cook's particular mood and also his regional location at the moment he was tossing up the dish - the Gobi Manchurian could be red with generous dollops of schezwan sauce also adding to the bastardisation process and instead of capsicum and spring onions, you might be assaulted with huge lumps of soggy cabbage - and all this in enough oil to ensure nothing sticks to the stomach, just uneasily floats around...And then there is the final insult upon injury - garnish with Coriander!!! And there are more bastards living on the innumerable menus of restaurants big and small across India. How about Schezwan Masala Dosa - (gag, you Chinese devil, gag on what we produce in your name!) Chinese Bhel ( that's the humble bhelpuri where the rice puffs are replaced by fried noodles which are called chopsuey and served by all self respecting Udupi hotels who pride on providing tasty Chinese takeaways) And then there are the Chinese soups which have massive dollops of ingredients non-Chinese including Tamarind and Turmeric.... Ohhh and did I mention Chilly Paneer? Paneer or Indian cottage cheese (very often rubberised as well in South India where they still haven't figured how to make it yet and rely on the ugly little bricks that come frozen in packets) deepfried ( can Indians have anything any other way?) and then smothered in enough green chillies to turn your ears red like the Chinese flag... Thankfully, since Indians take a rather mild view of tossing up the innards and the entrails of animals and totally look down on frying those pesky grasshoppers that find their way into the house from the garden, many more authentic Chinese food got left alone. Only the bastards managed to thrive successfully here... But if the Indian massacre of Chinese cuisine made the Chinese gurus wince in pain, then they will take pleasure from the way the Indian gurus are yelping in agony at the British carnage of Indian cuisine...Our pakodas taste here like sawdust batterfried with limp onions, the lamb korma is as sweet as kheer or payasam with as much coconut milk also in it...let me not even mention the Chicken Tikka Masala...the list can go on and on... Thats my Global Story of Cuisine Massacres... (P.S: This is not to say that you don't get great Chinese food in India...There are many good restaurants that must make the Chinese feel that there is still some chance for peace talks without filing cases for the genocide of their cuisine at The Hague)