Pondicherry cuisine at first glance looks very similar to that of its neighboring South Indian states, however, the techniques, ingredients and spices brought to this region when it was a French colony have fused with the local approach to create an entirely unique Indian fusion cuisine.
In researching Pondicherry recipes, I noticed that many of them have the same names as many of my family’s recipes. The difference lies in the ingredients and some of the steps. The resulting taste is different and, perhaps, a bit more subtle and refined. Other recipes appear to be French in origin but have integrated Indian spices. A third group includes those that have incorporated signature French components into them. The simplest way to explain Pondicherry cuisine is to say it is Indian food with a French twist.
Some of the key differences from South Indian cuisine include:
- Curries seem more like sauces in which the ingredients are finely integrated into the overall taste. Some curries have a creamier texture and include more herbs and traditional French ingredients (wine, cream, mustard, etc.)
- Fish and seafood play a major role in this cuisine and are often used together. Fish is often cooked in the French style with Indian flavors.
- Coconut is widely used, whereas tomato and cardamom are not often used.
- French baguettes are often served with curries instead of rice.
Cookbooks on Pondicherry cuisine include recipes that originated in other regions of India or were influence by other countries. I found a version of Dodol, from Goa (influenced by the Portuguese), as well as Malabar Fish Curry, from Kerala.
Overall I think the food in Pondicherry, like other regions of India, has benefitted by the fusion of local and foreign influences. It provides a broader range of culinary options for our taste buds.
My Recipe of the Month for August will feature a Pondicherry specialty…..
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