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5 Myths Busted about Traditional Indian Menu

Hot, spicy, rich, oily, fatty, and time-consuming to cook - you know what we are talking about. Yes, the Indian cuisine. Even though hugely popular, Indian menu is often misunderstood. No matter whether you are coming for the first time or have been to this subcontinent earlier, sampling the delights of Indian cuisine is always exciting. The gastronomy of the different parts of country is a glorious result of thousands of years of assimilation and evolution. Similar to all its culture and tradition, Indian menu too has absorbed various influences but managed to make them uniquely its own. Regardless of being exotic, nutritious and even complex at times, it is always delicious.

That being said, there are many myths or misconceptions about the Indian food that prevails mostly everywhere outside the country.

Let’s have quick look at the common myths that exist for reason about the Indian menu.

1. All Indian Foods Are Spicy

No spices in Local Food
No spices in Indian Food
It’s common to call Indian food spicy but that certainly doesn't make it "spicy hot." It might be a different taste very different for the first timers to this country than what they ever had. But, it is a wrong concept to think that all Indian dishes are spicy.

The heat in Indian menu is because of the chillies (similar to cayenne peppers) which, if omitted altogether will hardly have any hotness. Likewise, if you enjoy the taste, adding up more of chillies will increase the hotness. The many other spices found in common Indian dishes such as cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, coriander, ginger, turmeric does not add to the severe heat of the recipes.

Generally, Northern India uses more of fragrant spices such as the green cardamom and cumin seeds. In fact, the green chillies also add a fresh heat to the preparation. Southern Indian dishes have recipes that use spices underpinned by heat (common use of peppercorn and mustard seeds). And, on top of that, they have the tendency to use red chillies which add a dry heat to the dishes.

But, there are many options in the Indian menu such as saag (spinach) or aloo gobi (a cauliflower and potato dish) which are not spicy or hot. In fact, a good Indian restaurant will make customised food order and will ask how much spicy you want your dish to be.

2. Honey and Molasses Are Better Than Sugar

You might see many recipes, specially the folk foods that claim ‘no sugar’ but contain honey, molasses or maple syrup. Unfortunately, they are all some forms of sugar. Still, Indians prefer to use them because of how they taste and there is a conditioned belief that the items are not as processed as regular table sugar, making them more ‘natural’.

Scientifically, when any sweeteners are digested, it breaks into glucose and fructose, similar to any table sugar. So, if you have been advised to limit added sugar, it applies to honey, maple syrup, and molasses along with white sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

In fact, the blackstrap molasses does include some iron and calcium but should be used in small amounts to keep the sugar intake in moderation.

3. Desi Ghee Is Damaging for Health

Desi ghee is made of 65% saturated and 32% MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids).

It is basically an Indian form of clarified butter. But there is some sort of exaggerated fears of cholesterol associated with the regular intake of desi ghee in Indian food menu.

But, it is one of the most revered cooking ingredients in the Indian kitchen. It is made by normal butter (prepared from cow's milk) and heating it softly until its milk solids can be skimmed which leaves fat behind. That makes it of slightly higher concentration of fat than butter but is lactose-free which is a positive thing for people with dairy allergies or sensitivities.

Did you know ghee is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a trans fatty acid known to help in losing weight?

Ayurveda, an ancient holistic healing method of the country used ghee for skincare.

So if not fat free, it cannot be dubbed as unhealthy, especially when compared with sunflower, safflower, corn, and cottonseed oils.

4. Cooking Indian Food at Home is Really Difficult

The first thing you should ask is where did you get this idea?

Is it the various legends that you hear about Indian culture where Indian moms spend all day at the hot stove and clay oven? Or is it the multi-spiced recipes that makes you think such ideas about cooking Indian menu is a challenging project?

The truth is, you can cook Indian food at home without all the hassle; and definitely lesser than how much you think it is!

Gather some of the most common Indian spices (the usual ones are chilli powder, coriander, and turmeric) and it is almost half done!  The Indian kebabs need to be barbequed with the right amount of spices and salt and the work is done! Crockpot butter chicken or some of the instant mutton masala can be an awesome way to start your trial of making Indian food.

5. Indian Food is the Same All over India

This can’t be further from truth. If you are travelling around India, it won’t take long to find out how much the food varies by region. The four parts of the country have evidently vivid choices and practices in cuisine intake.

North India, states such as Punjab have staple foods such as meat, bread, and curries. In fact, there is a global acceptance of this cuisine in most Indian restaurants in America. But, there's a lot to the Indian menu beyond the tikka masala!

As you head towards South India, the major components are about rice and lentils. Pepper, tamarind, and coconut are the major ingredients in their preparation. Chettinad food is the spiciest cuisine in the country. It is found in Tamil Nadu and aroma and heat of this cuisine is what makes this of an intense taste.

The food in Rajasthan is traditionally vegetarian, and they are extremely spicy as compared to the meals in other regions.

Strikingly contrast is the taste of Northeast which has mainly steamed food items, and spices are almost nil.

Malwani cuisine is best found in Goa that has the finest seafood dishes you can’t just taste once!

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