Indian Cuisine: A Language of Spices.

I am a huge fan of Indian food – the spicy-ness, the variety and the hands on approach you just have to adopt when eating it. But whenever I’ve had Indian food (that is, in a restaurant a long way from it’s birthplace), I can hear my Uncle telling me; “this is not real India food”. So, what is real indian food then?

For me, the quintessential Indian dish is Butter Chicken.


So naturally, I want to know where the best butter chicken in India can be found. But I’ve come to realise, however, that like lots of good, hearty dishes, the best are nearly always home cooked.

To make these home cooked meals possible, markets are scattered across India, supplying the country with everything and anything they could need to prepare these delicious dishes. A small street in Delhi called Khari Baoli, hidden amongst the chaos of the city, is actually Asia’s largest wholesale spice market.

Indian marketplace_2

The market has been going for over four centuries, with some shops run by the same founding families for over nine generations! Famous for its spices, nuts and herbs, Khari Baoli also specialises in salts, dry fruits and chilis.

indian marketplace

Like most good things, this one hasn’t stayed a secret, making it’s way onto the tourist trail for those visiting Delhi. Thousands of tourists can be seen wandering around the narrow alleys of the market shopping up a storm of spices.

spices at market

I love to think that despite the language barriers undoubtedly present between tourist and merchant, the two citizens are able to communicate through the medium of food. The tourist as an ‘outsider’ seeks to understand the vernacular foodways of the Other through replicating the dishes they have encountered on their journey, shifting from ‘outsider’ status to somewhere ‘in-between’ and edging closer to that cosmopolitan ideal.

After all, the goal of travelling smarter is to feel at home anywhere in the world, isn’t it?


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