Thursday, September 02, 2004

In favour of the chapatti

One would have thought that with more than 1 billion Indians, non-Indians would be acquainted with Indian names by now. Sadly, it isnt so. You still read of implausible Indian names like "Nandira" and other Indian sounding names in literature and fiction. I have a good mind of compiling all faux Indian names I find in literature.

Another thing I find really annoying about an Indian cultural stereotype is thinking "Naan" is the staple food all over India. It is not. In fact bread is not even the staple all over India. The north-eastern, eastern and southern regions mostly consist of rice eaters. Also show me one home in India that actually bakes Naans at home and I will gladly take my words back. The staple bread all over the wheat eating regions is chapatti. It is a flat, thin unleavened bread and in my opinion far tastier than naan or any leavened bread that restaurants tout as the Indian staple. The reason why chapattis are going out of fashion is that they are comparitively hard to make. First you need to knead the dough, then with a small portion of the dough, roll out a perfect and even round that will ensure the chapatti will puff up when you cook it on a griddle. Not only are chapattis tastier, they are also far more healthier, simple because they are made from whole wheat and not processed white flour. Every north-Indian home lives on chapattis and not Naans. Chapattis are also called rotis and phulkes (which literally translated means puffed up ones) in different parts of India. I also think that it is mostly women who are more skillful at making chapattis and since most cooks in Indian restaurants happen to be men, it effectively means that chapattis have been pushed behind. Its a pity, I tell you. After days of eating heavy, greasy food, I long for nice, hot, fluffy chapattis that I can dip in crisp bhajis or dal or chicken curry or raitas. Plain, simple home cooked food, mmmmm...


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