Indian Cuisine Seminar

Talis Shelbourne

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 The Indian Cuisine Seminar commenced this past Friday in Knoblauch Hall’s kitchen lab from 4 to 6 p.m. The class was organized by students from the chemistry department and led by Lella Ravi Kiran, a computer science major.

 The event was held in the spirit of International Student Week, which Western celebrates over two weeks in anticipation of Thanksgiving. This is one of the many events designed to educate and integrate international cultures.

 The department chose Indian cuisine because Indian students make up the second largest international group at Western.

 “We’re all from the chemistry department and we all cook together,” said Sangeetha Mylapurapu, one of those helping prepare a meal.

 Many of them readily explained some of the differences between Indian and American flavors. Mylapurapu described how American food is much sweeter than she is used to.

 “The food is so sweet here,” Mylapurapu said, referring to American pancakes. “Our pancakes are wheat; they’re not sweet at all. Very, very different,”

 Their breakfast foods are very different from traditional American fare, in general, some ranging from fruit kesari, neer dosa, jeera aloo, and many others.

 “We have so many. So many,” Mylapurapu said. She also added how cheese, rice puddings and bread pastries make up most of their desserts.

 The group of international students also had different names for American food.

 “In India, we use the brown nut oil … It’s from the nut. You call that peanut oil,” Kiran said.

 Their country’s use of spice and heat differs from region to region.

 “In north, it’s not as hot,” Kiran said. “In the south, though, it’s much spicier.”

 The chefs had favorite foods and also pointed out a few Indian staples. They included onions, garlic-ginger paste, curry, coriander, chili powder and cayenne.

 “The garlic ginger paste,” Mylapurapu explained, pointing to a jar of thick ivory puree,
that’s in everything. You can’t make an Indian dish without onions or the garlic ginger paste.”

 Many of them prefer to boil or fry their food, and especially vegetables, over steaming it.

 “Sometimes we steam our food, but we really prefer to boil it,” said Janaki Manikonda, the main chef for the bread cutlets.

 Most of their dishes involve combination foods rather than compartmentalized food, where everything down to the lime juice is together in one dish. Mylapurapu said they usually get it right by tasting over and over again.

 “We taste,” she said, “All the time, we’re tasting and tasting because that’s how we get it perfect. That’s how we measure.”

 They served three Indian dishes of bread cutlets, chicken 65 and chili shrimp.

 The bread cutlets consisted of green chilis, garlic ginger paste, boiled potatoes and white bread. It was a meal prepared by Manikonda, Mylapurapu and Thejitha Mullapudi. The chili shrimp was a mix of shrimp, coriander and onions with a milder heat than the chicken dish, cooked by Praveen Yeredla.

 The chicken 65, named for the 20th century year when it was created, was a spicy dish using chili sauce, fresh chicken, cilantro and zesty lime; it was mixed and fried by Yeredla.

 The chicken 65 was a favorite to a handful of the students in attendance. One attendee said he anticipated learning more about India and their cultures due to his previous travels to several foreign countries.

 At the end, he and everyone else was full from trying the delicious, spicy Indian dishes. However, they were also able to come away with a much better understanding of the Indian culture from its cuisine.

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