Thursday, July 16, 2015

Differences Between My Husband and I: Food

While I was writing my last post - Culture, Domination, and Losing Yourself - I realized just how different hubby and I are with our food choices. This is one massive culture differences we haven't yet fully resolved.
tikki, India, Punjab, street food
No, we're not fighting over every meal but, it poses some unique challenges in our relationship and thus puts up a few unique hurdles for us.

Hubby loves Indian food of course. He's convinced it's the best food there is, has the best flavors, etc. It's the food he was raised on, I don't blame him for that. However, I do find a lot I disagree with.

Being Punjabi, my husband equates food to having kulchas, poori's, samosa's and tikki's on a regular basis. This is where I have to draw the line! I've always kept up with the latest news on what is and isn't healthy with foods, I've worked with nutritionists and taken diet classes as well as read many books on the subject. Not a single one of them has ever told me that fried, greasy foods were the healthiest for you and I'm dead sure none ever will. 

fried rice, kulcha, Punjab, India, food
I really don't like the taste of grease and oil so it wouldn't matter if they did. Before I met my husband I used a medium sized bottle of oil (around 60 oz.) in about 3-6 months, often longer just depending on how much baking I did. I went through less than 1 box of salt per year. Now that hubby is here and cooking, we go through a gallon of oil and a box of salt per month. I do not consider this healthy cooking. I find it disturbing!

Almost every Indian meal hubby makes starts with the tarka - fried onions, tomatoes and seasonings. Fried. Always fried. The vegetables are cooked until they're mush, called gravy, and the meal winds up being mostly liquid by the time all is said and done. I find this overly complicated and it bothers me that all of the health value of the vegetables is annihilated during the cooking process.

I don't like liquid foods. I'm not a fan of gravy. I prefer my vegetables raw or just barely cooked (rare if you prefer). So we often have to eat separately.

Don't get me wrong. I think there are some amazing flavors in Indian food, it's just that his idea of a good meal and mine are very different. I like malai tikka and I'll eat saffron chicken (picking the chicken out so it's lightly coated and there's no puddle on my plate). I like halwa's and some korma's. I just don't want my daily diet to consists of foods that are cooked to death and/or smothered in gravy. I like my food much more simple and I find there is more exciting flavors in the non-Indian foods I eat than the Indian ones.

grilled, tortilla, simple food
I know there's a lot of you out there right now thinking all sorts of things like how can I be married to an Indian and not like Indian food or I must be nuts to think there's more flavor in my raw foods than in Indian foods. I'm okay with you thinking that. There's some pretty amazing flavors in natural food and I've seen Indians taste raw vegetables and be amazed at how much  flavor is in them so I know I'm not crazy.

Indian food was developed and designed with the Indian climate in mind. It's well suited to life in India. I'm cognizant of the history of using cooking oil to excess and cooking foods as much as they do. I'm also very aware of why all the spices and spice mixtures came into play in Indian cuisine. It's really quite an intelligent system, it's just not one I regard as the best in the world...or at least not in my world.

I also don't understand the chili's. I don't see how people taste anything other than the chili flavor after they pile them in during and after cooking. The heat of the chili kills off any subtle flavors that might be in there and after eating so many, everything tastes alike. Of course that's just my opinion, based on my taste buds and the experiences I've had with food inside of India. Outside of India, with Americanized Indian food, I can taste some differences but still the flavors are too similar between too many dishes for me. I get bored easily, especially when it comes to food.

Punjabi, Indian food, tikkis

With the differences in how we eat, I often find myself feeling left out. Actually, left out probably isn't the best term for it....I'm not sure. My husband always want's Indian food - every day, every time we go out. I get tired of eating the same old food every time we go anywhere. He only gets excited about Scottish cuisine and hot wings when it comes to non-Indian foods. I guess you could say he's pretty set in his ways when it comes to food.

This leaves me feeling as if the diversity of foods we have available here that I want aren't important or wanted. I feel somewhat obligated to go eat Indian food. He gets so excited and carried away (I swear it's like he never eats Indian food) whenever we're going out that I feel like I'll either be crushing his dreams or ruining his mood if I don't go along with it.

So there I sit, almost ever week, eating mediocre food that I really don't like that much. Thinking the same thing over and over while he relives his childhood and time in India over a plate with way too much food on it. He does all of the talking. He has all of the fun. Then we go home. It's boring. The food is boring. The restaurant has become boring. The outings have become mundane.

Indian food, rice, chana, gravy

I guess that's why I feel left out when it comes to food. We rarely explore other cultures cuisines. Where is my culture? It sure isn't at the Indian restaurant. I like going to different restaurants and trying new foods or at least diversifying what country's food I'm eating from what I had last time. I'm not much on repetition. I want to go have Chinese this time and next time Mexican or something else.

I don't get to experience that with my husband as often as I would like. Of course we're working towards that goal but it's taking time because of how culture shock has affected him. At least that's what I'm hoping though I'm not sure because in India we didn't eat American food every time we went out, we still had Indian food more than anything else.

In the mean time, I just keep right on enjoying the foods I love while he sits beside me enjoying those he loves. I taunt him with new non-Indian foods and being a food lover, he can't resist and so thus he tries a lot of new things.

How do you tackle food differences in your marriage?
Do you eat more Indian food than your own countries food?


  1. My future husband and I are adventurous when it comes to food. He'll try anything a few Times. Another thing that we like to do is make fusion food. I think our chicken kabob tacos were by far the best.

    1. Those tacos sound delightful! Rohit will try new foods but he always seems to default right back to Indian any chance he gets.

  2. I understand you perfectly, been there myself! Like you I just can't have that same old boring, substance less "Ghar ka Khanna" this gravy swimming mush is not representative of Indian cuisine's finest at all. It is something that has been devised by housewives that had to make do with less ingredients and ended up being what is taught from MIL to DIL. One thing I was absolutely shocked to hear from most of my Indian friend is that none of them actually learned how to cook before marriage, they all learnt after tying the knot, and most see it as a chore that they would be glad to be done with, so they don't look at innovating.

    In Switzerland we all live on our own at one point or another before being married, so cooking has to be learnt and we all are taught that skill early enough anyway, helping our parents at meal time while growing up. I love to cook myself.
    But that whole dal, Sabzi roti bores me to death, I don't even like cooking it, it takes ages to cut, prep and cook all this stuff to end up something that doesn't even look good or taste awesome. One hour of cooking for that? No but no thanks, I'd rather spend the same amount of time making a more complicated Indian dish, or a complex continental dish that will at least give me the satisfaction of having achieved something.

    DH likes that stuff in his tiffin, so since we are in a position to afford it, we delegated it to the maid. It frees my time to cook something more gratifying.

    1. I've found short cuts for the cutting and prep work. One good thing about America is the availability of kitchen gadgets that make the work easier and faster. Otherwise I would never cook Indian. I'm just glad he does a lot of the cooking himself and I don't have to worry about it. Even with the gadgets it still takes too long and I also find the food boring.

  3. "My husband always want's Indian food - every day, every time we go out. I get tired of eating the same old food every time we go anywhere. "
    My husband does this too.
    It drives me NUTS!
    Even when we travel to other countries, we have to eat Indian food.
    We went to Thailand, even with all the beautiful & delicious Thai food around -we had to eat Indian food.
    We went to Istanbul, even with all the fantastic varieties of food that Turkey has to offer -we had to eat Indian food.
    We go to Dubai, where you can get any kind of food your heart desires- we have to eat Indian food.
    Even if I do get husband to try local dishes & he likes them, he doesn't feel like he's eaten unless he has his big pile of rice with dal/sabzi.
    I explain to him part of the fun of travel is experiencing the culture through trying new dishes. All I get is a puzzled look.
    If we can't find Indian food & he's forced to eat something else reactions can be anything from pouting to a full blown tantrum.
    So now I've given up, when we plan a vacation I scout out places where we can find Indian food.

    1. Same here... same here! Currently vacationing in Croatia and looking up Indian restaurants...

    2. In the beginning I could get him to try new foods when we traveled but he always looked for Indin first. He also discounts perfectly good food for not being rotis and dal as well. After he realized in orfpder toeat Indian food all the time he had to cook it he started settling more often. Go figure lol.

  4. I am an Indian born and brought up in India and now living in Australia, and I can tell you that Indian food is not at all healthy, this I discovered when I suddenly realized that almost all my elderly family members(even in the extended family) ended being either a diabetic or a heart patient. Indian food is mainly based on carbohydrates and all the so called (sabzi) vegetables are crushed to death in the making before anything good can be extracted out of them.
    Do yourself a favor and buy this book for your husband -

    if he is into reading.

    This is written by an Indian Doctor practicing in the US who has explained why Indians are prone to such diseases unless they change the way they eat.

    And I can completely relate with his love affair with Indian food where ever you guys go to dine out, but after reading this book I have changed my way of eating altogether and feel so great on diets which have a Mediterranean flavor or even the usual Salad based diets.

    There are so many wonderful cuisines in the world and thankfully Melbourne is the food capital of Australia where we live.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion. My husbands family has a lot of heart related issues as well but he's too stubborn to take better care of himself!

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  6. Omg! That fifth pic. I don't know what to say. Like cyn pointed out it doesn't represent India's cuisine at its finest. Ages ago joint families were the norm in India and they had to make do with only a couple of veggies per meal. Fruits were a luxury then, still are in many parts of India. Even today the average well off family don't buy fruits as much as they should. Curries aren't cooked everyday and even though they make an appearance in south Indian cuisine from time to time they're predominantly north indian.
    I guess it varies with every household because we don't do curries or fried food every other day nor does anyone in our family or friend circle.
    Try going to buffets more often and cut to Indian restaurants once a couple of months. That way he won't have any cause to complain. It really helps. Leave your fav asian/ mexican/continental restaurants for special occasions.

    1. My husband is north Indin and these pics represented the bulk of why I saw when I lived there as well. I like south Indian food much better but he's determined to eat only salty, greasy mess.

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  8. Wow, such a coincidence. We have been having a huge problem with this recently. I have basically had to change my diet for my anemia in the past several months, so I literally have to make two separate dinners. My hubby will have a fit if he can't have his 2 cups of rice per night. Luckily, our daughter is easy to adjust to both our diets, thank god LOL.
    We also recently went to seattle to visit our Tamil NRI cousins. We went out a lot and every single meal, they only wanted Indian food. I was like come on dudes, be adventurous!!!!!

    1. I've been battling anemia too this summer. Even on iron supplements I was becoming more and more anemic. Indian food does nothing for me, especially not improving my health. Also our local Indian restaurant got a new chef and now the chili chicken tastes more like ketchup than chicken. I hate ketchup.

  9. I am an Indian married to an Australian girl living in Australia. I do all the cooking in my home and I would cook Indian food maybe once a week. I prefer light meals with salads and vegetables.
    Indian food tends to be heavy and full of carbs. It taste nice but you can put on weight quickly.

    1. Oh yes! All that salt and oil is terriboe. Not to mention the butter and other carbs. I prefer fresher foods s well.

  10. I totally second your hubby Indian food is inded the BEST yummyliscious.. I have travelled to a lot of places but the first thing i seem to do is look for a good indian eating place :) , I dont mind eating other food .. I do eat.. BUt somehow the QUENCH or the HUNGER does not come in control till you have had a bit of India food ..

    so if i am out somewhere I might go a couple of days without indian food BUT not longer than that ..


  11. Thank you for sharing information. I like it

  12. Nomination :)

  13. Food is a big issue for us too, but hubby seems a little more flexible than yours.

    We came up with this system where he cooks Indian food on his vegetarian days. Recently he found a really good veg biryani recipe on the web. He is a good cook but rather heavy handed with salt and oil. So sometimes I will cook from ayurvedic recipes, which are more subtle in taste, or make currys myself to control the oil/salt/chili measures. Little by little he has started to accept salads once in a while, and he enjoys westerns casseroles, which are quite easy to make. Sometimes I will do something like cauliflower cheese with a pinch of curry and it seems to go down OK. Still, food stays a sensitive issue in our house. (padparadscha)

  14. I know exactly what you mean about the oil and grease in N Indian food. I spent 9 months with an Indian family and 15 months traveling though out India (North and South). I ran into huge problems not so much with the family but in the hotels and restaurants.

    The lady that I stayed with could cook some good Indian food (gujarati, punjabi and s indian foods... other dishes from other states I am sure as well). She was kind enough to first of all make me try it (we soon realized that spicy was a no go for me). I am not a milk drinker so any type of curd was out. I simply didn't like it. Now as far as the dal that was always served in side bowls (they called pulses). I tried it, didn't like it, so I was given boiled beans (lentils other various beans). She would also make the rice and set it aside for me before adding oil and other spices that Indians love. When it came to vegetables, she'd boil them and then set aside some for me and continue with the rest into the oil etc (carrots, brocolli, potatoes etc). She actually liked the way I ate and said she'd prefer to make it with less oil but her family didn't like it "just boiled". She of course loved the spices and those hot hot peppers. Her and her 71 year old mother would eat them raw. Ugh! lol So in that home I was fine. Many many times, I would just opt for a chapati (minus the ghee) and some amul cheese slices (or mozzerella cubes), tomatoes and cucumbers and make a sort of rolled sandwich.
    part 1 of my comment...

  15. Part 2 of my comment
    Now in the hotels, there was many problems. First of all they couldn't seem to understand you DON'T have to put veggies in oil. I can't cound the amount of times my veg pulao, aloo pulao, aloo jeera etc would come to me so think with oil it would make me sick. I actually started carrying around cheese slices, cheese cubes and peanut butter so at the very least I could make a sandwich (most restaurants had cukes and tomatoes), or I could add the cheese to the chapati or roti and make a sort of "grilled cheese" with cukes and tomatoes on the side or I could just put peanut butter on a chapati and have some protein.

    With that being said, since I have come back to the USA, I have not eaten anything fried in oil. The thought of it makes me sick. I can recall one time being sooo excited to find on the menu spaghetti and marinara sauce! It came to me with it floating in oil. I returned it and another dish was served with more oil and very spicy. I gave up and ate my chapati, cuke, cheese, tomato combination.

    On the house boat in S India (Kerala), the food was AMAZING! The rice was a bit bigger, there was NO oil to speak of, the dishes were awesome. I didn't eat with my hands, but I thought it was cool to be served such greaseless good veggie food on a banana leaf. (They did have fish but I refused it).

    All I can think of, is your husband is missing India. I know in India I was adament on getting American food, or as close to American food as I could. I would flat out REFUSE to eat Indian food towards the end. I know I went to subway and I'm not a huge subway fan, but it was the closes thing I could get to American food.

    I missed summer squash. I missed no salt in the food. I missed BLAND food! The first month I got back I ate summer squash every day.

    I think we try and hold on to what we are familiar to in an unfamiliar country. Even being there for almost 2 years, I still missed "home". Finding American like things made me so happy. One of them was the food (other things like finding lotion that was similar to bath and body works but came from the UK was another thing I splurged on.)

    I think it must be easier to get dishes cooked differently in Indian restaurants here in the USA? I haven't been (don't plan to go to one for some time). I have been told I always remake the menu at restaurants. I hardly go to them here in the USA because it's so much meat meat meat! However perhaps they can make food a little different for you if you ask? I am sure Indian food must get boring at every restaurant. I say you do better than me, I would flat out refuse to go, or if I did go, I'd eat rice pulaou and specify no oil or little oil with a side salad.

    It's funny you mentioned about them not knowing what veggies really tasted like. With all the HOT spices on everything, I wondered the same. I would make Indians try boiled bland food so they could get an idea of what carrots or potatoes or brocolli etc tasted like. They were a bit shocked and of course didn't like them so much.

    Maybe you could compromise? If you eat out once a week, say for 1 week at a non Indian restaurant and 3 weeks at an Indian restaurant. Work on it until it's equal. I think like I mentioned before, it's still culture shock. In that (as you are aware from being in India for a year+), we look for familiar stuff. Food is familiar, having someone else cook it is familiar.

    Also perhaps they might boil or steam some veggies for you, if you ask? I have had restaurants give me just side dishes of veggies and a baked potatoe even though it's not part of the "dish" one should order.