SEOUL -- The Embassy of India in South Korea and the Korean Food Promotion Institute, a public Korean food promotion agency operated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, to hold a special presentation on Indian cuisine.
Ms. Surabhi Amit Kumar, the spouse of Mr. Amit Kumar, the Indian Ambassador to South Korea, introduced Indian cuisine through a keynote speech "Indian food, a culinary journey through the flavors of India" at the Korean Food Promotion Institute (KFPI) building in central Seoul on December 8. The semi-casual lecture event was attended by Ambassador Amit Kumar, KFPI President Ms. Yim Kyung-Sook, and about 70 guests.
"What comes to mind when you think of Indian food?" Ms. Surabhi Kumar started her lecture by asking the audience a question. "Samosa!" "Curry!" "Naan!" the audience shouted. Smiling, Ms. Surabhi Kumar said: "Is it spices or curries or street food or sweets? In some ways, the staggering variety of spices, curries, and culinary traditions is symbolic of the incredible diversity that India has as a country."
In the beginning of her lecture, Ms. Surabhi Kumar introduced the garam masala, a blend of spices that is also known as "warm spices," vital in Indian cuisine. She said that every household has their own unique blend of garam masala. "Interestingly, different households use different proportions of these spices for their very own garam masala!" Ms. Surabhi Kumar said, pointing out the medicinal properties of spices commonly used in Indian food.
After her introduction to spices, based on her professional knowledge and personal experience, Ms. Surabhi Kumar explained Indian cuisine by region. "It is difficult to classify the regional cuisines of India given its staggering diversity. But for the sake of convenience, we can broadly classify it as northern, western, eastern, and southern Indian cuisine," she said.
According to Ms. Surabhi Kumar, the northern cuisine is very distinctive because of its rich gravies, tandoori dishes, and the use of dairy products. The western Indian cuisine evolved around sweet, spicy, and tangy-flavored vegetarian dishes due to a mix of cultural and religious beliefs. The eastern cuisine, famous for its seafood ingredients and mustard oil, is influenced by Bengal, Odia, and Assamese traditions. The southern cuisine, originating from hot and humid regions, revolves around rice and lentils with a generous use of coconut and tamarind.
Later in her lecture, Ms. Surabhi Kumar spoke about the influence Indian cuisine had on the global gourmet scene. "As societies continue to become more interconnected, the fusion of Indian food with global influences is set to expand, creating more exciting culinary adventures for food enthusiasts around the world," she said.
Ms. Surabhi Kumar concluded her lecture by saying: "The cultural and religious influences on Indian cooking have shaped a cuisine that is as diverse and complex as the country itself. This culinary diversity ensures that whether you're a vegetarian or a meat-lover, there is always an Indian dish to tantalize your taste buds!"
Previously, the Indian Embassy and KFPI had organized two cooking demonstrations and tasting events including one on millet preparations. A special event is scheduled on December 17 to showcase traditional street foods from India and South Korea.
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