Masala maar ke: Elevating food across India

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 27, 2018, 07.29 AM(IST) Written By: Kartikeya Sharma

Indian spice Photograph:( Others )

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Food abroad is a teaching. It is a learning curve. It teaches you how spice represents the movement of different communities, religion, people, and ethnicities through the Indian sub-continent.

What do you miss when you are not in India? Old Monk rum? Chicken curry? Arhar ki dal? Dosa and sambhar? It all depends on where you come from but one thing I do miss within 24 hours is masala maar ke.

You can have masala chai in the morning. You can have mirch pyaaz masala omelet later. You can have masala salami. You can have masala dosa.  You can even have fresh fruits with fruit masala. Even orange juice can be spiked with masala.

You can have pan masala on your way to the office. Before you get down to work, you can have mirch masaledar gossip. On hot summer days you can have, lemonade with masala, Thumbs Up with masala and even lassi and mattha can be had with masala.

As Indians, we have masaledar food. We have garam masala, chaat masala, fruit masala etc. It is so spicy that even before your palate can have a taste of it, a worthy masaledar curry can overpower your nostrils in no time. You can have a masaledar pickle. Even the humble dal can be made masaledar with homemade bukunu - a mixture of several spices. 

I will not go into the repertoire of non-vegetarian food. The masala can have a range from 1 to 10 but no food will be without masala. Even kebabs have the spice quotient. Even biryanis have the spice quotient. Even low profile paneer can be spiked with masala.

The evenings can be approached with fiesty chutney. It can be accompanied with spicy pakodas, masaledar samosa with chutney and I can go on and on. The dinner can be the same. It can be masaledar aalo. It can be masaldar mutton with masaledar raita with masaledar bhindi ki sabze.

This is what I miss. There is definitely a premium on clean flavours.  A premium on layered flavour.

Today masala is a bad word which kills the potential of the original ingredient but the power and kick of it cannot be denied. It elevates the food to a different level. You do not need to research it. One needs to go inside the kitchen of an average Indian. Our masala is as diverse as the universe. This is what I miss when I’m abroad. The bang of the spice. The kick of the spice. The way it elevates food to a different level.

Food abroad is a teaching. It is a learning curve. It teaches you how spice represents the movement of different communities, religion, people, and ethnicities through the Indian sub-continent.

It brought not only spice but different techniques of cooking in India. It introduced different ways food could be preserved, steamed, grilled, deep fried etc. It made us richer and a better eater.

I have not even touched northeast and undocumented little cuisines spread throughout the country. The diversity of food which I think is represented through masala and new world food represents how movement of people had made India a richer country. A better country.

I have no superiority complex but every time I’m abroad, my palate reminds me of what I have left behind. It is the good masaledar food.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

Kartikeya Sharma

Kartikeya Sharma is Political Editor at WION. When he is not working, you will find him travelling, reading or cooking.