Daal makhani in Beijing or chicken tikka in Tanzania - for the desi food lover, international holiday destinations have learnt to add the tadka to woo Indians tourists who love their sabzi-roti quite a bit.
What many Indians miss the most when they're overseas is ghar ka khaana. While many brag about how they had the time of their life, they stock up on mathris, achaar and namkeen to carry along with them on their trip.
And travel agents say that Indians are the most unadventurous when it comes to experimenting with different cuisines. "Indians love to travel but what they fear is the food there might not be to their liking. They don't want local food everyday," says Mehul Gor, director, Amigo travel services, adding that foreigners never throw such tantrums. "They want to experiment, unlike Indians," he says.
A spokesperson from the travel company, Kesari, while talking about this obsession with sabzi-roti, reveals that some Indians take in-house cooks along with them when travelling within the country. Some of the not-so-adventurous ones have driven the travel company to tie up with Indian hotels when their clients travel internationally.
"No Indian can survive on burgers, pizzas and hotdogs. When they travel abroad, we make it a point to have local food items on our menu, but people demand more Indian food," he said. And the demands don't stop here. While availability of Indian food is at the top of the demands on these travellers' list, some are a tad bit too specific, their preferences are further subdivided into vegetarian food only, or even just 'Jain food'.
Fitness trainer, Aamit Kumar, 32, planned a family trip to Bangkok and Malaysia only after he was satisfied with the Indian food options available over there. "It was our first international holiday and I had planned the itinerary myself. My first priority was food, since my parents are vegetarian, and luckily there are many Indian restaurants there," he says.
South East Asia, being one of the hotspots for Indian tourists, has a number of Indian restaurants - something they feel is essential to attract Indians. Zhao Quanzhen, country manager, Air China, points out that Indians assume that food will be a problem if they visit China, but that is not the case. "Indians usually assume that if they come to China, language and food is going to be an issue. However, in all big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, you will get authentic Indian food. We also have Indian chefs. Be it your daal makhni or naan, you will get it there. There are around 30 Indian restaurants in China," says Quanzhen.
Tanzania is not far behind when it comes to luring the Indian traveller. Keeping the Indian palate in mind is prime for the tourism companies there, in order to boost the number of Indians visiting Tanzania. Said Susuma K. Kusekwa, senior tourism promotion officer, Tanzania National Parks, "Come to our country and you will get good Indian food. We have Indian restaurants that serve authentic Indian cuisines."
Destinations like Taiwan and Syria are in queue too. "In Syria, you might not get authentic Indian food, but we have excellent breads and rich food. Something every traveller should taste, because the food of a region speaks a lot about its culture. So, come to my country and enjoy the small pleasures of life," said a Syrian tourism company's spokesperson.
This article first appeared HERE.