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From Chinese to Southeast Asian Cuisine – Our taste buds are changing!

It started out with roasting slabs of meat, sans spice, over a fire. Since then, cooking has come a long way and aren’t we glad! From spicy chillies to tangy lemons, a dash of this and a pinch of that, the art of blending spices to get the perfect mouth watering taste. Cooking is now an art form in itself. The latest cuisine to hit metropolitan cities is South East Asian cuisine.  To be specific – South East Asian cuisine refers to dishes originating from Thailand which spread to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia.

It started out with roasting slabs of meat, sans spice, over a fire. Since then, cooking has come a long way and aren’t we glad! From spicy chillies to tangy lemons, a dash of this and a pinch of that, the art of blending spices to get the perfect mouth watering taste. Cooking is now an art form in itself. The latest cuisine to hit metropolitan cities is South East Asian cuisine.  To be specific – South East Asian cuisine refers to dishes originating from Thailand which spread to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia. South East Asian cuisine originally was thought of peasant food due to the inexpensive spices used then.  It consists of the staple rice and noodles followed by curries which implement coconut milk, yoghurt, mint, basil, etc. 

Metropolitan cities like Bangalore has seen upsurge in restaurants opening which specialise/offer traditional South East Asian cuisine. There has been an increase of 15-23% per cent in the number of restaurants opening up offering a variety of exotic Southeast Asian Cuisines.    

 AtJustEat.in, we found that restaurants like Beyond China, Indira nagar, Grab Eat, Koramangala, Suziewong Restaurant, Delhi, or Your Plate, Gurgaon, see a great demand throughout the week from age groups between 25-35 years. The top selling dishes in these restaurants are the Thai Curry and Tom Yum soup, and you will find a large number of people ordering in from these restaurants almost 2- 3 times in a week.

But this does not, in any way, imply a sudden shift in the taste of consumers. A number of reasons can be ascribed to this growing inclination towards South-east Asian cuisine among foodies in India. Firstly, people are more experimental in nature today. They have shifted from trying the traditional Hakka noodles to more varieties of Thai curries and Vietnamese cuisine. Southeast Asian cuisine merely does not imply fried rice or noodles. But ranges from dishes like the Vietnamese Pho, Fried Spring Rolls, Chicken Pad Thai to stir fried and steamed roasted meats as it is in Cantonese cuisine. 

Secondly, these cuisines are more nutritional in content. They involve very less oil and even lesser spice mixes. People are health conscious today, so the demand for these cuisines is higher as it balances out on the taste and health factor. 

Thirdly, more and more people are aware of different kinds of cuisines. People travel to Southeast Asian countries on work purposes or on holiday and discover a whole new variety of cuisines. So they expect the same kind of cuisines to be available in India as well. Which is why you will find a number of Southeast Asian cuisine restaurants coming up in the metropolitan cities.

To make these dishes more palatable to the Indian audiences, many restaurants add an Indian twist.As it with any other authentic cuisine, we have seen fusion dishes being produced here as well. Take for example the Italian Pasta, which has been customized to suit the Indian palate. South East Asian cuisine too has seen some bit of customization to suit Indian tastes. So you will always find an Indianised Chinese version of a dish and the authentic Chinese version where you get cuisines from different provinces of China such as Hunan, Mandarin and Cantonese versions of the dishes. 

Even in Thai cuisine typical rice that is served with red, green and yellow curries goes through a transformation and is customised to suit Indian flavours. Dishes like Tom Yam Goong that is paired with rice, jumbo prawns and mushroom is a very popular dish, and is customized to suit the Indian palate.   

However, though these specialty restaurants today want to stand out from the existing crop of pan-Asian eateries to compete with mom-and-pop joints, and are opting for concept restaurants or serving authentic cuisines such as Vietnamese cuisine, Thai cuisine , Malaysian etc., yet we feel, it will be some time before customers fully adapt to the authentic palate of these regions. 

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