Indian Food downsides
However, there are a couple of potential downsides to this curried cornucopia. The first is that, for some, after a while an unending diet of Indian dishes can pall or, less agreeably, the relentless spice onslaught can provoke an internal reaction not far from the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome – discomfort, bloatedness, fast and frequent trips to the loo and so on.
Relief can be found in eating less – which is the fate of many millions in India – or in more upmarket restaurants, often attached to large, international hotels, where tourists can re-set their stomachs with a Club sandwich or a Western buffet if they are feeling a little more prosperous.
Breakfast may also help as even lower to mid range hotels usually have something of an occidental offering – tea, toast, eggs etc.
South Indian crab curry. Photo by Evensab.
For the uninitiated new arrival a bout of ‘Delhi belly’ is certainly on the cards. It is not just about hygiene but also the different bacteria that are encountered. In fact, on the hygiene front there can be a trade off between cleanliness and tastiness.
The most delicious Indian meal that I ate on a recent trip to Rajasthan was in a less than salubrious establishment outside Fathepur Sikhri whilst a curry lunch at the Lake Palace hotel did not have half the flavour – with no negative after effects in either case.
I suspect that some of the food at the top end can be dumbed down and have much of the taste chilled out of it. Unsurprising when lobster bisque, foie gras and Calcutta fish are offered in five star eateries in Udaipur!
– Water is normally served at mealtimes; the novice tummy should aim for bottled and check that it has not been opened and unscrupulously refilled.
Cheese paneer spring dosa. Photo by Kaushik AP.
– Alcohol, which is relatively expensive as a result of taxes, may be found in some restaurants whilst at others it is possible to send out for beer. Kingfisher beer is ubiquitous in the north and quite palatable, and locally brewed Foster’s can also be found; other brews such as Indus Primus are rather bitter. Incidentally, beer was not available in the sub-continent until the middle of the 19th century when Indian Pale Ale was imported from the UK – its alcohol and hop content was higher to withstand the voyage.
– Indian wine can be ordered relatively easily in the better restaurants of the main cities and has improved significantly of late (wine has been made for thousands of years in India though commercial grape production probably only dates back to the 1980s), but the connoisseurs will argue that it is impossible to grow quality grapes given the latitude and climatic conditions. Sula produces some very quaffable whites, as does Seven Hills. The wines from Grover tend to be a little oaky. Either way, the local wine production is priced quite high, just below the better known imported branded offerings.