Pasta for breakfast, Chowmein for lunch

February 9, 2010 at 5:42 pm 6 comments

Globalization has presented India with myriad opportunities, the most tangible among them being the mushrooming  BPO services that provide employment to our millions. With the advantage of cost, geographical position and a vast English speaking population, it has been a virtual flight of jobs, from Boston to Bangalore and from Glasgow to Gurgaon.

But Globalization, by its very nature and implication, cannot remain a one way flow of advantages. As you mow down jobs abroad, you are also battered in a variety of other ways in your home turf. The flooding of the Chinese goods, from  mobile phones to auto accessories, from staple pins to pen drives, have been so complete and devastating that it has already lead to the sickening of many of the home grown industries. The sweet chirping calling bells in most Indian homes have a Chinese origin, the locks that secure them come from China and the glittering, multi-hued lights that decorate these homes during Deepawali have an invariable Chinese stamp to it. Even the little crystal “Ganesha” idol before whom we bow every morning has a  “Made in China” tag under his belly. The Dragon has entered our living rooms, the bed rooms, the bath rooms and even our pooja rooms! 

But it has been its entry into our kitchen that has been the most profound and yet most silent, a bloodless coup, with the Chinese having the company of the Italians in this invasion. Indian palates are now treated to a host of Chinese and Italian cuisines on a daily basis that are rolled out straight from their kitchens. The two-minute noodles, the pastas, the macaronis, the pizzas and the chowmeins have all become part of our gastronomical regimen that they have effectively replaced many of our traditional delicacies.

The ease and the convenience in the preparation of these menus have largely influenced our preferences and the neat “ready-to-cook” packs have only helped in their popularity. Aided by tantalizing commercials and star endorsements, these foods have influenced our children the most. The contents of the school tiffin boxes are a telling story of this tectonic shift in our eating choices and the alien foods that our children are now relishing. When did we last pack “Pulliodarai” with “Vettal” for lunch to our little ones?

While these foods just tickle our taste buds, Indian spreads have a wholesome nutritional value about them that factors in the demands of the climate and the genetic orientations of the population. The increasing numbers of obesity, malnutrition, sluggishness  and other attendant health issues that plague our kids can directly be attributed to the abandoning of our time-tested eating habits and instead lapping up a food culture that is most damaging.

I could easily spot a dozen places where I could have  Szechuan Noodles or  cheese Pizzas with Veggie toppings in my own colony. But where could I find a plateful of mouth-watering “Puttu” with ” Kaddala”? 

Perhaps in Shanghai or maybe in Milan….



PS: For tips on Indian recipes, visit


Entry filed under: To reflect.

Batting for Hockey Don’t ask me, I am a Specialist

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rekhabaala  |  February 9, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    So true! did you see the mushrooming of ‘chaat’ thelas all over Ernakulam?? And on a Chinese note, my mother gave me a statue of what she thought was Kubera… but what i knew as the Laughing Buddha, from yes, China!!! Yeah, like u said, maybe the puttu-kadala may go into extinction in India but may find a new place elsewhere in the world. Or you could drop by at my place in Muscat for a plate of steaming puttu-kadala… We are still tradition personified 🙂 I can go on and on… but don’t want to hog the space here!!!

  • 2. Manju  |  February 10, 2010 at 7:51 am

    True to your pasta and cheese Pizza
    Trespassed India without a visa
    Boom of tradition in Milan or Gaza
    Chak de to our Delicious Dosa.

    Wherever, it is known as Indian- not like the
    sixth sensed self ( highly volatile).

  • 3. umesh kumar  |  February 11, 2010 at 7:38 am

    What about Supper/Dinner (Noodles/French Fries)

  • 4. Narayanan  |  February 11, 2010 at 10:02 am

    For dinner we will have a combo of noodles and manchurian. French fries would be a evening snack to go with the chin chai.


  • 5. balakrishnan  |  February 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I agree, there is an invasion. But is it unsolicited?
    I don’t enjoy Choumein. But my children say ‘how mean! Just because you are not enjoying, you cant say it is bad’. Now, I don’t have a counter for that. I have to concede that . Reason? While I hate paani puri, my wife relishes it and I give in. So children are extending the logic to their Chinese cousins.
    Come to think of it India has been home to all tastes and Ideas. It has been an inclusive society welcoming all ideas. She has never promoted Promod Muthaliks and the likes. She has assimilated all that has come her way. It is only a matter of time that Indians do reverse engineering and sell better Chinese products in China. During my visit to France in 2000, I met a Sardarji selling models of Eiffel Towers on the streets of Paris. I bought a few. I asked him where they were made. He told me they were mass produced in Gurgaon. They looked more akin to the actual Eiffel Tower than the locally made costlier ones.
    I would rather suggest that we start Chinese Restaurants in China and side by side market idllis and vadas. Call them by Chinese sounding names if need be. That will be a more effective cultural counter invasion – a long term and sustainable one at that, after all Iddli Chatni and Vada sambar are hot cakes in London streets!

  • 6. Narayanan  |  February 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks for the comments. And what about selling Pao Bhaji in Rome… Should do great given the weather there.


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