Ambassador of Indian Food Serves Up a Side Dish of Culture

By Jennifer Wolcott Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

Ambassador of Indian Food Serves Up a Side Dish of Culture


Jennifer Wolcott Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


"India only has three indigenous spices," says Julie Sahni. "It's not really the spice cuisine people think it is."

Those three native spices, she explains, are black pepper, cardamom, and turmeric. Saffron was later adopted as one of India's own, but most spices generally considered Indian, including those in curry powder, come from the eastern Mediterranean.

Ms. Sahni, one of America's leading experts on the food and cooking of India, is demonstrating dishes from her native country at Masala Art, a contemporary Indian restaurant in Needham, Mass.

As she speaks, diners are riveted. A cuisine that once seemed complex, distant, and exotic is suddenly more accessible. Foreign- sounding dishes such as Idli (steamed rice cakes), Murg Tak-a-Tak (chicken with cashew nuts), and Jalebi (sugar swirls) become familiar as they are tasted and talked about.

Sahni is doing what she does best: acquainting diners with Indian ingredients and cooking not only by pleasing their palates but also by sharing her vast knowledge of and passion for a 2,500-year-old cuisine and the colorful culture it comes from.

In recent years, as Indian restaurants have become almost as common as pizza parlors and burger joints in cities across America, Sahni's job as an educator has become easier. Long gone are the days when Indian restaurants served only red, green, or yellow curry dishes. Now one can find those that specialize in not only northern or southern Indian fare, but also in sophisticated dishes from a particular region, such as Bengal.

Sahni couldn't be more pleased. "Americans are so adventurous," she says. "They are lapping up Indian food, even eating it with their fingers." She attributes exploding interest in Indian cooking partly to the high-tech boom, which led to business dealings between American dot-comers and Indians, especially those from the southern part of her country.

Indian cuisine no longer exotic

Also a factor, she says, is the desire among Indians who moved to America in the 1980s to establish a voice, a sense of identity, in their adopted homeland. Some of them have founded Indian newspapers; others have opened restaurants or specialty food shops.

That has created quite a different climate for Indian cuisine, says Sahni, who recalls back in the late 1960s the dearth of spices in US markets and the strange looks she got when wearing her sari at Columbia University School of Architecture, where she was a graduate student.

Today, when she visits the Indian community in Queens, N.Y., which she does often, she feels as if she were in New Delhi. "Indians have found a sense of belonging in America," says Sahni. "I am perpetually in a state of excitement about this."

When Sahni came to America in 1967, she had intended to get a master's degree and then return home, smarter, more worldly, and ready to employ a household of servants, including cooks.

But she felt compelled to stay. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ambassador of Indian Food Serves Up a Side Dish of Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.