Cooking at home was the norm
Which tantalises your taste buds? Eating the most scrumptious meal mum’s made at home, or tasting an authentic dish at a fancy Indian restaurant? South Asian food represents spicy, rich, wholesome and amazingly tasty food, and South Asians love to eat. Be it in the comfort of their own home or at a favourite restaurant, Indian cuisine is a major aspect of Brit-Asian living.
However, eating out was not a trend amongst the earlier generations of South Asians who settled in Britain. Most saw it as something they did not do back home, an expensive luxury, did not trust the ingredients or cooking style of ‘outside’ food, felt the food was made for the English palette and classed it as an elite activity. Cooking at home was the norm and very rarely did a Brit-Asian family go out to eat. Most were living as extended families with up to three generations in the same home and eating out was not really an option.
Today, younger generations of Brit-Asians are eating out more at Indian restaurants, taking families out to dinner, having take-outs and not cooking at home as much as the past. Therefore, the notion of eating out or in amongst British Asians is a matter of choice and lifestyle, and not inhibited by generation differences.
So which is better? Eating at home or out?
A lot of British Asians still prefer home made food as they believe that the fresh ingredients and the ability to add anything you fancy into your own dish makes it special. Others say going to a restaurant makes an evening more enjoyable, relaxing and sociable.
Whilst both have their good points as well as their bad, British Asians love a spicy curry and love it more when there is a variety to choose from. This is where restaurant food comes in handy as it caters for those of you who love to eat different dishes. So if you’re with your family you get to choose from a menu and eat anything you fancy, but if you’re at home, well let’s just say its better to eat whatever ‘Ammi Ji’ has cooked.
However, food at restaurants may always be cooked to suit the masses rather than the individual. For example, Chicken Tikka Masala is a very popular restaurant dish and perhaps never called that when made in an Asian home. At home, personalised ingredients are used to make such a dish based on recipes passed down in the family or specifically learnt. Ingredients such as specific spices, achaar or yoghurt are used to make such a dish to suit your own taste.
Living in a fast paced country us Asians love food but most importantly love it on our tables as soon as possible. Eating in doesn’t always mean that you will eat on time because cooking Asian food at home can take time when using fresh produce and proven recipes.
Giving your home cooking loving attention always pays-off, especially, if you are making it for someone special!
Musthakur Rahman a head chef at Jeera said, “At home time and effort is needed when cooking from fresh ingredients where as restaurants such as ours we use pre-made sauces due to the busy schedules and customers we have. Food is presented and served a lot quicker so that our customers don’t have to wait around for that long.”
At restaurants you have a starter, a main course meal as well as a dessert, but this isn’t always enough for those of you who have a big appetite. You may feel as though you’re not getting your monies worth as the portion sizes are pretty small. For example, a Lamb Balti dish may cost from around £6-8. This amount could cater for you and your family if cooked at home, with greater portion sizes and the ability to add more if desired.
As Britain becomes more industrialised many of us Asians are becoming slaves of the fast food culture. This is due to the busy lifestyles we all live. Although a lot of the older generation prefer a nice home made meal, the younger generation find that eating out is more convenient.
Radhika Shukla, a university student said,
“Eating in is defiantly easier on the wallet and belly, but sometimes we are so beat when we get home from work or uni, I just want someone to put a plate in front of me without having to make a dish from scratch. So eating out for me is a lot easier and saves me time.”
In addition, Haffza Bibi said, “Even though some of the meals do not take a lot of time to cook, I find that spending time to go out and buy all the ingredients takes up a lot of my time. So rather than taking the time out to buy the ingredients I rather go out to eat.”
But sixty four year old Sarbjit disagrees and believes that although eating out maybe convenient, in the long run it causes problems. He said, “Nowadays, most of the people have their everyday meal at a restaurant or at some food stand. They don’t realise the risk of getting high cholesterol or heart diseases, not to mention putting on weight. At home you are able to control the amount of salt or oil that is put into a dish, but at a restaurant you’re not aware of how the dish is made. Therefore, eating out is not always the healthier option.”
Due to modernisation, Indian restaurants are realising the need for good interior design to attract customers. With the amount of competition around, a change of décor can make all the difference. Back in the 1980’s the décor of an Indian restaurant would be bright and colourful to show a sign on culture. Velvet wallpaper all around the room was popular and red carpet on the floors. The seating would be cramped with simple tables and chairs.
However, today the décor in Indian restaurants is more contemporary. Professionals are hired to design the layout and interior of restaurants. Owners are willing to invest to improve business and clientèle. Resulting in the attraction of all different communities to their restaurants.
So, if you fancy a change of atmosphere or want to take your loved ones somewhere special where the food is amazing, creative and well presented, restaurants are your answer. But if its comfort, hygiene and health that you want, then home food will be the more suited option.