It might sound strange, but does it? I feel Indian Tourism can pick some learning’s from its food. The secret formula is there. The formula of how should the Indian tourism experience, be offered to the world.
Food served in major part of the world is so monotonous, where the first bite and the last bite taste the same (except for the temperature may be). But the Indian Food, it’s different!
Let’s observe the images above of a Gujarati Thali and a South Indian Thali, taken for reference. What do we notice? There is rice, roti, different green vegetables, fresh fruits, dal, curd, ghee, pickles, chutney, salt, salad, green chili, lemon, papad, sweet dishes and many more. Some are cooked in steam, while some are fried in oil. I have at times wondered, that why should an Indian meal consist of such a big palette of tastes. Moreover, irrespective of the different regions, where there are variations but on a broader term of taste, a meal served in Indian home has many elements of uniqueness. When served to a group of people, I can bet that no two people would have enjoyed the same taste, from the same food served.
For the world, the taste of food is limited to five basics – sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (savory). Is the Indian Meal cooked in this limitation? The experiment done with flavors or smell in an Indian Meal is humongous. Thanks to the rich Indian spice collection, even a modest vegetarian meal offered in less than $ 2, would take you to a roller coaster of taste. That’s the Indian uniqueness, which I feel has some learning’s to offer to the Indian Tourism.
I would like to share my observations of Indian Food, leading to my inferences or lessons drawn for Indian Tourism.
- Option of a Variety of tastes: Even the modest food we eat in our home has a variety of tastes, spiced up. Unlike the western option of “Salt and pepper to taste”, the Indian meal offers a reasonably large option is a fact. Taking the clue, our each Indian Tourism destination needs to be packed with options (with unique tastes!)? I mean that even religious destinations like Haridwar or Ajmer, need to have more tourism products.
- Specialize in a vernacular flavor: While the Incredible India advertisement shows the entire gamete of experiences offered in India, it is upon the states to choose for a particular flavor. If the thali’s of Rajasthan, Andhra, Bengal, Kashmir, Gujarat etc are so different, why should the amusement park in all these places be same. I feel the local “Tadka” is important! The varied tourism products may be planned “of the place”. There is also learning for some states like Himachal, Jharkhand etc, who do not have a popular Thali (read Tourism Theme or Image), to introspect and discover their uniqueness.
- Scope for Customization: USP of an Indian Meal is customization. People mix different elements of an Indian Meal and create their own tastes. Some might mix rice with dal then add some mango pickle and for the next bite some rice with vegetables and a bite of green chili and in very next bite, have some papad to add the crunchiness. One should really observe, how you eat your Indian meal and may be count the different tastes you had, in our food bites. Believe me, it’s amazing!
I wonder if there can be any guide book of how to eat an Indian meal; what to mix, when and how? There cannot be any one defined way to experience Indian meal (please read Indian Tourism). Similarly, Indian Tourism should create different tastes (tourism products) in a destination and leave on the tourist to customize their experience.
Do not bother about a planned sequence. Instead, let’s create experiences, and let the tourist plan on how he customizes “a rainfall of tastes”, in one single meal.