Japanese explore South Indian cuisine

Cultural exchange

Japanese explore South Indian cuisine

The true joy of a travel or relocation is sampling the cuisine of the country you visit. So it was but natural that the expat ladies under the aegis of India-Japan Initiative decided to get up close and personal with a real South Indian food starting with breakfast. The scene of the action was a city hotel, where several Japanese ladies gathered in a curious group, watched the expert chefs turn out crisp masala dosas, uthapams and lemon rice along with traditional accompaniments like sambhar and coconut chutney.

“I am amazed at the effort and time that goes into the preparation of a basic South Indian breakfast. It takes at least a couple of hours to prepare and seems very complicated for a newbie,” says Mika, a Japanese housewife living in Bangalore. With a simultaneous translation from English into Japanese, the ladies took notes asked questions and finally sampled the fare that was being prepared in front of them. Some of the ladies were already familiar with masala dosas and idlis while for some, it was a  new culinary exploration.

“A traditional Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso soup, and various side dishes like broiled or grilled fish, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), onsen tamago, tsukemono pickles, seasoned nori (dried seaweed), natto, and so on. However, we generally eat a Western breakfast like toast and eggs with bacon or cereal and milk every morning,” added Mika.

“It is an interesting variation on our traditional and very new to our palates. Even the method of preparation is very different from what we are accustomed to. As long as the spices are toned down, we quite enjoy the pancakes or dosas,” said Eiko, another lady at the demonstration.

Some felt that the flavours and textures were way too intense and heavy for a morning meal while others felt it was an acquired taste not for a mild or conservative Japanese palate. “I would probably be able to enjoy it better as an afternoon meal instead of for breakfast as it is a tad too oily early in the morning,” said Tokomo.

But like most cross cultural interactions which turn out to be both informative and fun, the group thoroughly enjoyed the de-mystification of an integral part of Indian cuisine and exchanging ideas and recipes with the obliging chefs.

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