German Food VS Indian Food

A lot of international people have often asked me, “Don’t you miss your food back home a lot?”
I feel like saying, “You mean, do I miss anything other than pork and potatoes? Yes I do.”
I really do. If there’s one thing I am certain of it is that that food is not in my top things I love about Germany.
I’m yet to meet a foreigner who would say the same. Definitely not one from the eastern part of die Welt(The World).
Here’s my take on the top differences between German & Indian cuisine
Variety, Variety, Variety!
As an Indian, I’ve been raised for a healthy respect for food experimentation and spoiled for choices, given there are maybe thousands of dishes or even more that can be had in India. All sorts of mixes of spices, herbs, vegetables and meat. You name it and you can find it in some part of India. Maybe on the top of a Himalayan peak, or in the desert in the West or in a small village in the backwaters of Kerala, but find it you will. I find the lack of good food variety genuinely disappointing in Germany, even though I had embraced myself for this whilst I was contemplating the decision to move. A lot, and by this I mean a LOT of main stream dishes are made from pork and potatoes in different permutations and combinations. It’s too bad I wasn’t raised eating too much of pork, and hence you can imagine my lack of enthusiasm for German food.
Spices, Wo bist Du?
If I try to look for the spiciest meal I had in Germany, I would probably say it was a Turkish doner mit extra Scharf(with extra spice). And even that wasn’t too satisfying. While Turkish food might come close to using a lot of similar spices, the concoction and pattern is certainly different from Indian food. It’s not so much that Indian food is always spicy and hot, just the form in which they are cooked makes them so satisfying. It’s always awkward when I eat in restaurants, cause I’m always adding a lot of extra salt and pepper like a maniac to feel something, anything whilst I eat the food.
Klein oder Große?
Indian food portions would certainly be Klein(small) when compared to a regular German portion size which is most certainly sehr Große(very large) for me. If I sit down for a dish with a serving of meat and sides, I’m almost 90% certain that I can’t finish more than 60% of this, unless I haven’t eaten for two days straight. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if the portion was for normal humans or giants. I quickly realized it was the former. I have also been told that a lot of Germans eat only one big meal a day which would explain the portion size. Indians are used to eating a lot of mini meals or snacks in between the breakfast/lunch/dinner routine. We also have a lot of tea breaks. Tea to Indians is what coffee is to Germans and usually accompanied with a small snack as well. Growing up in India has psychologically impaired me for ever being able to finish a whole German portion by myself. I just can’t. Perhaps in 2 years, we’ll review this. If the review has changed, I might have turned into a pig myself at that point.
Vegetarian Vs Non Vegetarian
Need I say more? Germans, like other Europeans eat an insane amount of meat. I find it hard to get used to this, since back at home, I’d limit meat intake to twice or maybe thrice a week. We as Indians, simply have a lot more vegetarian options to chose from and prefer eating it as well. The idea of eating meat for my breakfast, is still rather strange for me. Of course the cold weather, definitely makes meat a better staple food than lets say vegetables, but given a few years I’m pretty sure I’ll be consuming  a lot more meat as well. I, for one certainly don’t want to turn into a vegetarian night-walker here in the cold, dark and grey German winter.
Brotchen/Baguette VS Roti/Paratha/Appam
Our bread is extremely extremely different to the typical German bread intake. I think it has a lot to do with the type of food it accompanies and the way it is eaten as well. I can’t imagine Brotchen going well with a typical Indian curry and Roti for a traditional Bavarian dish. I have to say though, I actually really do appreciate German bread. It doesn’t come close to French bread (no bread in the world does), but it’s certainly not bad either. I am already getting used to eating a lot of different types of local bread here, and I certainly do enjoy mixing up my dishes.
All said and done, both the cuisines have their merits and demerits. I often make strange dishes which turn out to be a mix of Indo-Western food, and sometimes I’m surprised by how good it is. Often times however, it’s not really edible.
But such is life, isn’t it?

9 thoughts on “German Food VS Indian Food

  1. Just moved into nuremberg yesterday. Not yet found the food which would help translate me to a german diet. Any recommendation on german food that might make me feel satisfied ( atlleast 10 %). Also you mentioned mixing dishes, any examples ?

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    1. Do you want to cook or eat outside? I love nürnberg bratwurst(kind of like burger with sausages) and schnitzel of-course is nice too. My go-to food to cook here is Maltauschen(which is kind of like stuffed dumplings) both veg and non veg which are super easy to make. Salads of course, and pasta/spaghetti are easy to cook as well.

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  2. You see, if a German eats an Indian curry they certainly will suffer a burning feeling on tongue and in their oesophagus. It is what you get used to as a kid that establishes your sense for “normal” when it comes to spices.

    My grandma cooked with a lot less spices than I do, because spices were traditionally expensive in Germany (Have you ever come across the expression “Pfeffersäcke” – those were rich merchants who dealt in spices.)

    You cooked with a few herbs that grew here, Schnittlauch (chives), Petersilie (parsley), some used Thymian (thyme) and Oregano – and Bohnenkraut(summer savory). You added leek and onions, to spice up your dish.

    Ginger? Already garlic was something exotic and paprika powder was imported from the Balkan. Ginger was unheard of.

    This makes the traditional German kitchen rather “bland” for somebody coming from a region of the world where there were spices in abundance.

    Though they cooked more with cloves and pepper once they could lay their hands on those.

    And since lemons were not common here in the North of Europe either, they used apples for acidity until lemons could be transported safely and in time up north.

    So it is rather a matter of history, of transport and logistics back in the olden days, of prices and tradition resulting out of those conditions, not the unwillingness to try something new.

    Once traditions are established they are hard to give up.

    But I do not want to defend our tiny kitchen against the variety of kitchens from a sub-continent. India is gigantic compared to Germany. Of course there is much more variety in its traditions – it is not ONE tradition – India has so many regions and each has its own cooking traditions.

    I do not only have more spices in my cupboard in the kitchen than my grandma I even use those. Sometimes I even cook a curry. But as I am used to that bland kitchen of Germany, I need far less in spices to excite me.So my version of a curry cannot taste like one you would cook up. Once upon a time I ate a lot more hot dishes than I do today, and I got used to hotter spices. I went back when I got rid of that spice loving bf …

    And if you think Germans are only eating pork – nope – I grew up with beef, pork, poultry (mainly chicken). For some people game (deer, wild boar or hare) is common, but it’s expensive if you do not know somebody who is a hunter, as is lamb. And as I never got used to eat mutton, I still find it a challenge.

    I just made a dish yesterday with lamb chops. For 12 lamb chops I paid over 29 Euros. (not even 700 g) And I had to go the market for that (on Friday), as my supermarket only sells beef, pork and poultry. Maybe that is why we eat less diverse. Germans ARE cheapskates when it comes to food, something I regret. That has an influence on our kitchen, too.

    With the popularity of cooking shows and all those fancy cookbooks sold you’d rightly expect more variety. But old habits die hard.

    So mainly our diet consists indeed out of too much meat, not enough vegetables and fish dishes (though we know our “Eintopf” – stew – and sometimes it is a green lentil variety – Linsensuppe, sometimes it is peas which we use, or potatoes – but again with a Wiener sausage … ). Meat is cheap here. Particularly pork.

    Minced meat is mainly done from half beef half pork … So if somebody serves you something with minced meat you most likely get half/half …

    I don’t know what made the decline of beef – there was more in previous times- maybe the time beef takes until it is done. Or it was the BSE-crisis. Or the price (more expensive) – or a combination.

    Germans are not alone with their love of pork, btw – Chinese love their pork, too!

    So now you have a few explanations.

    We are slowly developing our taste for spices, thanks to globalisation. But you will most likely not find the level of hot spices in a German dish ever unless you put them in yourself. And cinnamon is a spice we mostly use for sweet dishes and cake. Cook with that? Only when we try something exotic …

    My formating years were the 70s, when I was a child. I grew up in the countryside, where the old adage goes: What isn’t known to the peasant he won’t eat. (Or in German dialect: Wat der Buur nich kennt, dat freet er nich.) Some people still live according to that adage. Their loss.

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    1. Hello there!

      I’m positively delighted that you took the time to explain the nuances of history and tradition, and I of-course understand all that. The post was meant to be light-hearted, as you will see on my blog also banter about India. I really do appreciate your detailed explanation though. Please bear in my mind my intention was not to offend. There are various things I do love such as schnitzel, bratwurst, sauerkraut and kartoffelsalat which I have on a regular basis. I could only wish those were available in India as well. Cheers and hope you”ll keep reading.

      Viele Grüse
      Shruti

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  3. […] Another way to save some money on grocery shopping is to do it together with your flat mate (if you have one). Me and my flatmate often have a lot of meals together and it’s easier to swap cooking duties as well as bring down overall food costs when you cook for two instead of one. The food portions you see in supermarkets tend to be large enough for more than one (human average) person’s consumption. (Here’s more from me on German Food) […]

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  4. “French bread is better than German bread” is a sentence that should be ushered with utmost care. While studying abroad, I’ve seen german colleagues import kilos of bread from Germany and freeze it. I’ve seen them open up a black bread market inbetween lectures. Once a German student casually mentioned he prefers white bread from the supermarket. I have never seen him again, until a week later in class.
    If there is one thing Germans love more than their rules, It’s their bread. There is literallly a kids show where the protagonist is a bread: Bernd das Brot

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