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Indian Cuisine Q&A with Romy Gill

30th July 2018

Romy Gill will be leading two Taste of India tours with Wild Frontiers in 2019. You can find out more about the tour by clicking here.

How important is food and eating in Indian culture?

Food plays a very important part in the religious ceremonies, weddings or any other celebrations in India, much of the food cooked for these important ceremonies has a philosophy behind it. It's not just about what the food tastes like but it's a lot about the meaning behind it. On a more day-to-day level, when I was growing up in India, meal times were all about sharing food and stories together as family and friends - it's a very social activity.

What inspired you to cook and to start your own restaurant?

When I first move to the UK, I was really excited to live in a new country and eager to have new experiences, but the excitement was short lived as I missed my family, friends and the food that I grew up eating. Trips to my local Indian restaurant didn't do anything for me - all the curries tasted the same and nothing tasted the way it had when I was growing up. With that in mind, I decided that one day I would open my own restaurant. It's what I'm good at and I feel like it's where I belong!

There are so many people who inspired me but Madhur Jaffery, who was on TV a lot and is responsible for bringing Indian food into mainstream British culture, was a huge inspiration for me. It showed not only what a woman, but what an Indian woman, could achieve.

Are there any common misconceptions about Indian cuisine?

When I first came to the UK there certainly was, many people's idea of Indian food was limited to samosas and butter chicken! However, as people started to travel more, they started to be a bit more open-minded about other cultures and more adventurous when it came to trying new things.

People now realise that it's quite hard to define an 'Indian cuisine' because ingredients, flavours and styles change so drastically from region to region. India may be one nation but it has no single cuisine!

Is there a dish that you particularly enjoy cooking?

It all depends on my mood, although I love cooking with game (many people don't know that game is heavily used in Northern India) and seafood, particularly crab. Not so much a dish but a flavour I really enjoy cooking with is panch phoron (made from five whole spices: nigella seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel and mustard seeds) because it reminds of my mum's and grandma's cooking. It's the spice I would like to take with me to desert island.

Why have you teamed up with WF for your Taste of India tour?

I recently went to India with The Sunday Times and Wild Frontiers helped to make the journey very comfortable, in every hotel we were looked after really well and they have an amazing team on the ground (and in the UK) to help you with anything. They seemed like the perfect company to help me show people real Indian food, from the streets of the old cities where these dishes were fine tuned over centuries. India has such a rich cultural heritage and its cuisine is a huge part of that, I want to show it to the world.

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