What I eat in India

India. My first impressions
Getting used to new food conditions
The posts marked with “First impression” were written when I just started living in India. From “first impression” posts you will know about my first opinions, judgement, feelings and difficulties that I experienced in the first  year of my life in India. These posts are more emotional and contain less practically useful and actual information than my later posts. In one word “first impression” posts are about “cultural shock“.
This is what we usually serve for breakfast for me and my Indian husband. This breakfast is ok for me, but for my husband it’s strange and not at all usual 🙂 because Indians are used to eat hot food for breakfast like fried vegetables,

You are about to know what difficulties I’m facing here in Mumbai as a foreigner in terms of food.

Getting used to Indian cuisine
I’m getting used to Indian cuisine somehow. The most important is to get used to a lot of chili in the food. Nowadays i can eat food with just a little chili in it, very little. In the very beginning I couldn’t stand chili at all. And still I prefer food free of chili.
Indians are big chili fans

So for me it’s very strange that Indians consider food not tasty unless you stuff it with chili! As you guess my Russian food they consider plain and tasteless no matter how many other different spices I would put in it.

One of my favorite breakfasts a la Russian style.

 

Here in India I also faced a problem: all the manufactured packs with spices that I found in a local supermarket and small shops contain a mix of spices with lots of chili. So it makes impossible for me to use them for cooking food for myself. And at first I couldn’t find any separately sold herbs or spices suitable for cooking my Russian food.

Cooking Russian food
Scrambled egg, Stewed potatoes with green beans and a tomato. This is what I often eat for lunch with some alterations.
Russian vegetable soup. It can be cooked from absolutely different vegetables. But usually potato, cabbage , carrot and onion are a must.
Russian soup with Indian channa. Substitution of meat.

 

 One day i got fed up with eating without spices – i had only black pepper and salt (not at all enough) – and I, having studied thoroughly store shelves, found for myself coriander, cloves and bay leaf. These findings made me happy, and now i can cook Russian soups and stewed vegetables using these spices.

 

 

 

 

Actually I have made quite a long list of spices which are available at my local supermarket but the use of which iI still have no idea about.  All the names are written in Hindi and I’m going to search for these names in Internet and probably some other spices appear to be familiar to me and I will be able to use them for my daily cooking.

By the way, while writing out in my note book the names of the spices from the packets, I got a note from a shop assistant claiming it’s not allowed to do it. I wondered why. Is this a fear of competitors or what else it may be? If you have any idea, share it in a comment.

I must say that not only the spices are my problem. I also don’t like the taste of Indian food which is unusual for me. The smell and taste may seem even disgusting sometimes. And a lot of chili makes me feel bitter taste.

A meat-eater in a vegetarian society

Most of all I lack protein and there were moments when I felt really like dying because of not enough protein in my daily food. The problem is that non-vegetarian food is not sold everywhere but only in particular places. Our local supermarkets like Dmart do not sell any meat, chicken, fish or even eggs! Most of the people living here are vegetarians or pure vegetarians. The latter do not eat anything what comes from animals except milk and other dairy products. So eggs in India are considered non veg.

Some supermarkets or shopping malls like Inorbit mall, Infinity mall, Nature’s basket, Big Bazaar, Hypercity do have non veg products such as chicken and sausages, crab sticks, fish cans, good cheese and even rye bread, but it’s quite a problem to reach them, especially for a foreigner. It’s partly because Mumbai is so huge!

 

Huge Mumbai

Mumbai is a huge and crowded city and travelling somewhere may take hours! Add to this long time consuming journey the noise, dust and heat of an enormous metropilitan city with the total area comprising 4300 sq.km and with the population of over 20 million. Ad this is only an official figure of the registered people. The real number of people will be much more because a lot of Indians all over the country come to Mumbai for jobs.

Compare to New York city (area: less than 800 sq km, population: 8,5million), Moscow with the suburbs (area:2500 sq km, population: over 17 million). So only biggest Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing may compete with Mumbai!

Travelling about the city is tiresome

Roads full of traffic, local trains stuffed with people, noise from cars and trucks and dust are realities of modern Mumbai.

So taking a long distance trip within Mumbai is really tiresome. Usually after the trips from our place to one of the central districts of Mumbai or to the touristic places I usually have a headache and feel sleepy. One might also have a backache or pain in the legs.

Add to this a language problem that you may also face if you go out because not everybody knows English here.

I do miss chicken and meat
This is our typical lunch or dinner 🙂 The central plate is with omelet that I cook without chili for us both. The right place is mine with a lot of stewed potato and a little rice. The left plate is for my husband – with a lot of rice and a little potato.

I do go out only nearby and do my daily food shopping near to home. Luckily I have a vegetable and groceries shop right next to the block of flats society where I live. And opposite to my home, just across the road I can buy fruits. So here no problem. My problem is about meat!

As Mumbai is full of vegetarians, chicken and meat may not appear to be sold nearby. This is my case, I have no meat or chicken shops nearby. There are only chicken sell spots which are more like slaughters: the chicken is killed right in front of the customer. So I’m not able to go there at all, and my husband comes back from work late at night when chicken “shops”(read slaughters) are already closed.

I’m suffering here without my usual food

It’s really difficult for me sometimes, I do miss the food which I got used to. I do miss Russian dry fruit kompot, i miss sausages and meat. I lack packets with spices meant for cooking particular dishes that one can buy in Russia. I miss canned pickled cucumbers and tomatoes, buckwheat, tomato juice.

Russian flat bread. Oladyi or Oladushki. It’s made of flour, soda and a sour dairy product like sour milk (Russian prostokvasha), Russian kefir (somethig more or less similar to butter milk) or sour cream (Indian curd or dahi).

Alot of products usual for me are available also here in Mumbai but they often have an absolutely different taste which I don’t like and don’t enjoy at all. I speak about local sour cream (which is called dahi), mayonnaise, ice -cream (not bad but I prefer Russian and Italian), butter, coca cola (Indian coca cola is too sweet), fresh juices (in India they add water!) and others.

I must say, I’ve never thought that I would be so “attached” to Russian or you may say European food. I could not imagine food would become a problem for me after moving to India. But I’m really suffer here, suffer physically as my body demands what it’s used to.

P.S. If you live in India write about your experience in the comments. Have you got used to the Indian food quickly or it took much time? Was it difficult for you in the beginning?

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