Has Indian food lost its real essence?

At IHA-2022, panellists discussed the story of incredible Indian cuisine as an international crossover and its fate

At the cusp of the technological era that we are in, culture and traditions hardly remain bound within the physical boundaries of nations. Everything is accessible at the click of a mouse or a touch. At times, this leads to cultural misrepresentation of authentic traditions and the creation of new norms, moving farther away from the true essence of it all.

On the first day of the two-day 6th edition of BW HOTELIER Indian Hospitality Summit and Awards, Diwan Gautam Anand, Founding Trustee, Cuisine India Foundation, talked about whether or not India was the next big thing when it came to food at a global level during the F&B session: Whatever Happened To Incredible Indian Cuisine As An International Cross Over. “When you look at Indian food and the way it has moved across the globe, we can say that it is not easily replicable until you know the fine art of making it. It’s difficult since people very often don’t know the exact know-hows, the exact ingredients or the exact nuances,” said Arun Sundararaj, Director of Culinary Operations, Taj Mahal, New Delhi, adding that Indian food travelling around the world depends on ingredients, culture and what is being taken across. 

“When India was called Aryavrat, it had a very different cuisine. As a chef, when people ask me about Indian food, I am confused since I don’t know what is exactly Indian food? What we know as Indian food today is only 300-400 years old so what were the original recipes when Aryans came to India? The real sense of Indian cuisine was medicinal, and we were by far the most advanced nations at that time. Eventually, when the Mughals arrived here, our chefs got into greed and cooked to please the kings. They never passed on their recipes out of jealousy. So, in that sense, we have lost a lot of our true Indian cuisine,” shared Parvinder Singh Bali, Corporate Chef – Learning & Development, The Oberoi Centre of Learning. 

Rakesh Sethi, Corporate Executive Chef, Operations, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group said that the Indian cuisine is very old, very strong and an amalgamation of culture, tradition and influences. “The recipes at our homes are the ones which have been passed on from the mothers to the daughters without any documentation. But nowadays, the tradition of cooking stops at home. Today, though we talk about reviving the cuisine, we know well that we have lost a lot of it somewhere down the line,” he said.

“Creativity does not need licensing. I think it is important for us to keep the authenticity of the ingredient alive, authenticity of the preparation alive, and at the same time, keep the innovativeness intact,” felt Manisha Bhasin, Corporate Chef, ITC Limited – Hotels Division. “Globally, there is a lot of changes happening, cuisine wise. Today, we see a lot of regional cuisine coming forward. It’s interesting to see how food is unfolding and creating awareness. Today, if you ask a foreigner, he would surely know that there is more to Indian cuisine than just the north Indian spread,” she said, adding that since 2023 is being hailed as the “Year of Millets” by PM Narendra Modi, it gives the country a lot of opportunities on the global platform. 


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