Gastronomic Specialties from India
Exotic Indian cuisine has already settled down in Russia, as it meets gastronomical tastes of our countrymen. The first restaurant symbolically called “Maharaja” was open in Moscow in 1994. Very soon unique, diverse and tempting Indian cuisine has gained by Moscow’s and its visitors recognition. Nowadays, there are Indian restaurants and cafés in almost every big Russian city.
The traditional Indian cuisine is known to be rather distinctive, as it is rich in herbs and spices. The main ingredients include spices, rice, vegetables, seafood and fruit, whereas the menu almost never includes meat dishes favourite among Russians. Still, it is well regarded among them.
“Indian cuisine is undoubtedly popular today. Especially the unadapted one, like in our restaurant,” said Elena Romanovskaya, marketing manager of the restaurant «Talk of The Town», “Authenticity is trendy. Many Russians have already visited India and ‘tasted’ it, so they don’t want to pay for something else. Moreover, due to the crisis, people travel abroad less and less but they still want to experience and feel something new. So why don’t they go on a small gastronomical journey? In addition, the ‘taste’ of an Indian restaurant barely depends on French mussels or that very Italian cheese! In fact, Indian cuisine has suffered from the counter-sanctions least of all.”
A great number of places where you can taste authentic Indian cuisine has appeared since the first restaurant in Russia has opened its doors. They can be divided into the upscale ones, middle priced and restaurant chains. All the three categories are present not only in the capitals, but also in Kazan, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don and other big cities. Usually their owners try to find the most popular spots while keeping affordable prices. For example, an average lunch in a restaurant like this would cost from 1.5 to 3 thousand rubles ($26 to $53).
The second peculiarity of Indian restaurants is their top quality in cooking and adherence to the original recipes. This can be proven by the fact that Indians themselves, both tourists and local dwellers, prefer their national catering. One can often see here whole Indian families or businessmen who visit such places not only to taste national dishes but also for homelike, native atmosphere. The design reminding that of maharaja palaces makes them feel at home. Kasi Viswanathana, owner of the restaurant “Jai Hind” said that Indian visitors who miss their local food bring the biggest profit.
Indian cuisine is diverse and includes dishes from various regions of the country like Bengali, Tamil, Mughlai, Kashmiri, Goan foods, etc. In fact, it mainly consists of vegetarian food. The biggest restaurant-keepers notice that Russians prefer curry recipes, different types of flatbread made of wheat, millet and rice flour, rice, pulao, dal, Indian sweets and traditional masala tea. The most restaurants also include in their menu such dishes as tandoori meals cooked in an oven with the same name, vegetarian cream soups, cheesy garlic naan, vegetable and meat samosas. It should be noted that Indian cooks use traditional national recipes and skillfully create dishes which taste for Russian visitors like meat ones. The taste qualities are almost indistinguishable, however, these meals are much more wholesome.
It is not a secret that many restaurants of authentic cuisine make their menu multinational in order to attract visitors. Indian restaurants are not an exception. Such Indian restaurants as “Tajj Mahal”, “Shabu-Shabu” and “Shikari” also serve European, Japanese, Thai and Middle Eastern meals. These multinational exotic restaurants in general accept visitors who are not ready for Indian cuisine but eventually want to discover something new.
Organic and fresh ingredients are the key success factor. However, the uniqueness of Indian cuisine requires a definite number of products and creates difficulties for both owners and cooks who have to try their best in order to offer their visitors the real high-quality national food.
“We buy spices in India, while such ingredients as flour are bought in Moscow. There are some difficulties with fruit, as it is impossible to buy fruit from exotic countries in Russia,” a representative of the now-closed restaurant “Moscow-Delhi” said, “That is why cooking this or that dish requires lots of creativity.”
Despite several objective difficulties faced by Indian restaurant owners, this business can be undoubtedly called promising due to the fact that popularity of this cuisine is constantly growing. Such chain restaurants as “Talj Mahal” which plan to move beyond the capital and open their spots in other Russian cities prove that this direction is successful. The restaurant “Talk of the Town” also does not hide its intentions to expand. “We receive a huge number of messages from different Russian regions in our social networks. People ask when Indian restaurants will appear in their cities,” Ganapati Jaikanth, the owner, said. It can be confirmed by the fact that demand for national Indian cuisine is still very high, and exotic Eastern menu will surely remain trendy for many years.
Ekaterina Shapulenko, journalist.