Pearl Millet Flat 'Bread' / Bajra Alu Paratha
Cape Gooseberry or Tiparee Upside down Cake.

Lost in Translation

Wayne Bremser , from the wonderful 101 Cookbooks made a perceptive comment- "One good thing about many of these blogs about Indian cuisine is that they take the photo of the ingredients in neat little piles. Which gives the impression that the recipe is easy".
And it made me think. Yes my blog too has several ingredient photographs.But I don't think it is so much to do with making the recipe look so simple. It is used more as a way of identifying some ingredients. Several spices have different names in India, as we have so many languages. Sometimes it is a question of saying 'are you talking about the same thing I am talking about.' And there are regional variations which can be confusing. Its a bit like going to Japan and trying to order something in a restaurant. That is why Tokyo restaurants have so many pictures to go with their menus.They are used to tourists. "I'd like that" is easy enough. More language skills aren't necessary. And obvously the word 'sushi' doesn't cover the Japanese cuisine.
It seems odd, perhaps, to people from other countries that one Indian state and another can differ so much in language, clothing, culture, and food, that an Indian can often feel like a tourist in his / her own country.The problem is multiplied further by living far away from the place of origin. The Indian diaspora is spread wider than most other communities. A Bengali may know that Amda is hog plum in English but when reading an Indian recipe from Tamilnadu may not know that it is called Kotte pulchankal in Tamil.
Take for example Wood Apple. It is known as Bhelphal in Hindi and Marathi, Vilampazham in Tamil, Velagapandu in Telegu, Belphal in Kannada, Khotu in Gujerati and I bet you don't know what a wood apple is to begin with.
The easiest way out is to photograph the constituents of the recipe.One of my posts on gourds has been referred to over and over again by people from all over the world. And I am sure it is because the post helps recognition.
Then again the photographing of ingredients may be something other than identification.The ta-da !! joy of managing to track each of a long list of ingredients? Or could it be the sheer beauty of all that is natural, that the texture and colour of raw food is far more attractive than the mish mash of the final result, which is what a lot of Indian curries looks like, though it's all jolly tasty.
Could it go even deeper than that? That we are don't take things for granted and have not become blase about much that is commonplace in other cultures? One is still in awe of a fat clove of garlic, a perfect leaf of baby spinach or a ripe but not rotten tomato. I don't know for certain.
I still like that picture of the the raw stuff.They are the notes of my music, the sa re ga of my raga, the paints for my painting,the ochre ,burnt umber,indian red of my picture, the dha dhin dhin dha steps of my dance...and who knows, after all, what they will create ???

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