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I just came back from Ragoo’s on KR Road where I had a coleslaw, salad, garlic bread, muglai tikka, pizza, pasta, noodles and rice. That makes it at least three distinct cuisines in one meal. I never thought of this until now, but man, our stomach is facing a definite globalization thing going on too.
In many cities (although I can only speak for Bangalore), we have restaurants that make up different cuisines. Sure, we do have just Italian or just Chinese restaurants but they are more of an exception than a rule. Even in those cases, there are usually some Indian tastes in the menu to make the palate feel more at home. The rest of the restaurants try to mix everything to the limit where you get Idly Chicken and Mutton Dosa.
The reason, in my opinion, is simple: The restaurants want to get more families to their businesses and the sure way of getting them is to make sure everyone in the family gets what they want. This means pizzas for kids, rotis and naan for parents and curd rice for grandparents. That is why, now, we have South Indian Darshinis serving fried rice and veg hakka noodles along with idly vada dosa. In fact, I know restaurants that serve North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Italian under the same roof. Of course, none of the cuisines (except Indian ones) are close to the original recipe but its a selling point. The family goes where the kids want to eat.
On the other hand, we do have a good set of restaurants like Ragoo’s and many others I haven’t yet been to which try to keep the recipe as accurate as possible in Indian conditions. By Indian conditions, I mean both the availability of herbs and ingredients that make the dish and its acceptance to the palate. They do mix up the cuisines but, to me, it is a good thing. Otherwise, I will end up eating only Italian or only Mexican food. I mean, they are good but I want to have both my pizzas, pastas and Mexican rice at the same time; and for that, restaurants like Ragoo’s do a good job.
While I am on the subject of cuisines, I also want to share my experience at another restaurant called Eurasia in Jayanagar 7th Block. I was over there with some friends last week for a get-together dinner. The name makes you think both of European and Asian cuisine (which is quite a mouthful) but the restaurant only has Italian, Lebanese and Mongolian. It is quite a fancy restaurant with a pleasant ambiance. Of course, we tried all the three different cuisines (and of course, some Indian) and had a great time. We ended up spending three hours catching up at the restaurant and an hour outside the restaurant. The only complaint I had with the restaurant is the size of each portion but that is another topic.
Apart from all these cuisines, we have Indian food claiming a spot in our stomach too. I wonder that if countries outside had Indian restaurants, what would they be like. I have not been to a country where they would have Indian restaurants (except perhaps Mauritius but that was much too complex for me). Hence, I cannot judge the difference. I imagine that they would definitely cut down on spices and use sauces or herbs to give it a local feel. I am not generalizing but I imagine most of the restaurants would be this way.
So with all this confusion in food, what is our poor palate supposed to do? Well, what can it do really except throw you off particularly interesting tastes; and then, it does just that. At that point of time, you start hating that Idly Chicken and Mutton Dosa. You boycott the fried rice sold in South Indian darshinis and the sandwiches sold in North Indian restaurants. You just want to have food that you can digest and that is when you go home to your mother’s or your wife’s cooking.