No don’t be bewildered, this post doesn’t list a curry recipe and doesn’t help you find the best curry places in Stockholm. Neither does it explain a syndrome where you tend to love or hate curry. This is all about how I handle my hunger cravings, find awesome food in the city and use various apps and video tutorials to experiment with cooking.
Not so long ago I moved from India to Stockholm and had to deal with one of the biggest questions – What to eat? This was a hilarious situation. I am not a vegetarian, I eat all kinds of meats, luckily I do not even have any allergies and I am not finicky about eating Indian meals. Yet, this question hit me twice every day.
Back home in Bangalore, I never had to plan for a meal or groceries or hunt for good restaurants. I just knew where to go, what to order, where to look for reviews, which shelves to look at in the grocery store or where to hunt for discounts. Things were sorted. And now, everything had to start from scratch again.
The first few months
The first few weeks both me and my husband used to spend hours in the grocery store google-translating everything. We endlessly translated the names of the vegetables, matched them to the right price, translated the ingredients in food items, walked past the same shelf or freezer multiple times to finally find what we had been looking for and then stood at the self-service counter trying to decipher things, embarrassing ourselves and finally calling out for help. After that ordeal, our staple diet was eggs, sandwiches and fruits for the first few weeks.
We were always on the lookout for good restaurants, finding affordable deals, asking friends for suggestions and reading reviews for everything. It was interesting to know how some places were only open for lunch while some for dinner. How you had to reach a place at 11:30 to avoid long lunch queues and grab a table. Why was dinner almost always costlier?
And how drinking coffee at the end of your meal was a tradition. One of my favourite discoveries was lunch at museums. I had enrolled at SFI and almost every other Friday they took us to a new museum in town. It was in these museum cafes that I first tasted the amazing salmon, ate huge portions of assorted salads, crispy knäckebröd and often sat down reading a book with the unending coffee that was always on the house.
Home Cooked Food
Then came the cravings to eat Indian food. Many think that Indian food is all about the Chicken Tikka Masala and a fluffy naan bread. But very few know that Chicken Tikka Masala originated in Birmingham, Britain. And Indians don’t eat Naan bread at home daily.
Also, one needs to understand that India is so diverse that food preferences, the style of cooking and language change every 100 km as you travel through the country.
I always knew that finding good South-Indian Food (Idli Sambhar, a nice crispy Dosa, Donne Biryani, Karimeen Polichathu or Nadan Beef Curry) would be impossible in Stockholm. But I did muster some courage to try a few places. The success rate wasn’t great.
It did not take long to realise that the food in Indian restaurants was highly “Westernised”. The menu was mostly monotonous and hardly changed from one place to other.
So the next logical steps to satisfy my cravings were to find ingredients in an Indian store to start my cooking experiments and to find some Indian friends who cook often and get invited to dinners/ parties. Both weren’t as easy as they sound.
Every recipe somehow had something that was difficult to find. I had to spend time figuring out the alternatives. And sometimes despite doing everything by the book it did not taste the same as my mum used to make it.
As far as dinner parties are concerned, I did get lucky and had some of the most delicious home-cooked meals ever. But as it happens when you are in a new city, it takes time to build friendships.
Meanwhile, I also stumbled upon Gastronaut, an app which enables home-chefs to bring their food to your plate.
I found some great Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean and fusion food which I had never tried before.
Now, many people ask me where to go for the best Indian food. Well, it’s certainly not at a restaurant. You need to befriend an Indian and get invited to dinner to taste the best Indian food in the city.