South Asian Food Habits

February 29, 2008
Deepti Lamba

Do South Asian lives revolve around food? A distant NRI relative of mine thinks so-

According to my uncle, we suffer from the Hun Ki khana? (what will we eat next?) Syndrome

Once breakfast is over, its tea time with biscuits, soon lunch, a little break, then tea time again with maybe Pakoras, Bhujiya or hot potato chips, by nine its dinner and then another cup of tea or coffee before sleeping.

Isn't that a whole lot of eating? Not to mention the neurotic addiction to chai?

Till recently Indians were known to be slightly overweight but not obese. We generally got to see old Auntyji's with flesh oozing out from the sides like muffin tops but now more and more young school going kids and even young adults are suffering from massive weight issues.

Blame it on sedentary life, oily food, in between snacking and what I call - food affairs.

What are food affairs? Its a thing that started from the time when we were kids. Our mothers ran after us screaming- finish your food, you are not allowed to waste it. Last bite, absolutely the last bite.

As kids we were quick on our little feet- I am full, I don't want more.

But due to size and height differences once caught up the mothers made sure we finished our food. The end result? We stopped listening to our bodies signals when we became full and continued to gorge till we felt kind of sick and in need of Pudin Hara

How about those Aunties who fill the plates up - Nahi Baacha, you must eat more.

We'd get that sinking feeling in our stomachs and wonder how come the fellow who invited us over is so skinny despite having a mother given to using gluttony as a means of hospitality.

Not eating all that food would obviously be seen as an insult and we go through the heroic effort of not puking all that overeaten Rajma Chawal or Reshami Kabab over the table.

Food Affairs have become the bane of our lives. We live to eat and not the other way. 

With the moms' and pops' shops closing down and hyper markets like Total and Star opening up I have seen people buying more junk food than they would have from regular grocery stores.

Though we are still buying fresh veggies and meats, there are also tons of cans of Haldiram Gulabjamuns, packeted Chaats and other processed snacks which a few decades back we would have had to go over to Chaat shops to eat.

But capitalism came to our palettes rescue. Now just about all food items can be bought off the shelves microwaved and consumed. Though they all may seem convenient what we tend to forget is that they are processed food items and add to our waistlines.

The best place to see the Indian love for food is at the hyper grocery stores where people discover their favorite food brands and smile as if they have hit the jackpot. 

With the booming economy are our waistlines also booming? Or did Capitalism merely compound a pre-existing problem where we always loved our food but now due to choice have we completely tipped the scales?

Deepti Lamba is a writer, an editor for Desicritics. She can be found at Things That Bang
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February 29, 2008
10:48 PM

this time i made sure i read food posts after meals;)

your are so right...so much of the life revolves around "intake"

Deepti Lamba
March 1, 2008
09:41 AM

Just finished cooking and feeding. And now there is the walnut cake. Vat to do- we have generations of hunger to make up;)

March 1, 2008
10:28 AM

great post!! the enormous waist-lines of men and women are so visible now in India...what to do? although even in smaller towns i have seen ads for weight reduction etc; but for a while, this trend will continue, plus the love affair with processed food (0+0=0).

March 1, 2008
11:42 AM

More than the intake, the weight problem is mostly due to a sedentary lifestyle. I am yet to come across a single woman who jogs inside my upscale apartment complex. All they do is briskly walk in their salwar/sneakers combo along with their moms. That's going to hardly cut it, given the amount of junk food they gorge on.

And the guys would not so much use even a screwdriver to do any household repair work, since the carpenter is available at their beck and call to take care of even the smallest work. Quite a contrast compared with Americans.

March 1, 2008
01:25 PM

there was a scary two page report i read this morning HERE

March 1, 2008
02:35 PM


Yep, we desis lack some enzymes etc., have to be extra-careful with all those deep fried temptations...thanks for this!

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