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Indian Cuisine Indian Food in Vancouver

The Evolution of Indian Cuisine in Canada

Nature’s most beautiful strokes have painted the world’s second-largest country with some of the most vivid landscapes and breathtaking views. Canada is a place where you can embark on once-in-a-lifetime adventures capturing snow-capped mountains and pristine lakes; incredible glaciers entice travellers to visit Canada at least once.

Apart from the views, Canada’s culinary art is a growing affair with an exotic range of local international cuisine.

Indian cuisine is the most recent inclusion in the culinary scene of Canada. The Indian food in Canada is characterized mainly by the Northern Indian approach to the cuisine featuring toasty curries and bread.

However, there is still the influence of South Indian cooking, which is frequently amalgamated with sour and spicy curries using tamarind and chillies.

Indian Immigration to Canada

The Indian community in Canada is filled with a fascinating history spanning more than a century. The first south-Asian migrants to Canada hailed from Punjab.

It turned out to be a success initially for them, mostly single men but the outbreak of anti-Asian race riots and legislation that followed after that slowed down the migration from the South-Asian subcontinent.

After a few years down the line, the Canadian parliament passed legislation that required migrants from India to arrive through a single continuous journey which resulted in an extensive decline in immigration from the Indian subcontinent.

Later, during the 1960s the more liberal changes in Canadian immigration brought a dramatic increase in the number of Indian immigrants. and thereafter, the expansive Indian population remains settled in British Columbia or Ontario, and in such numbers that it makes them a sizable minority in the state.

Critical differences between North Indian and South Indian food

North Indian cuisine is what western culture knows about Indian food. The North Indian cuisine consists of warm curries and flatbreads. Creamy meat-based dishes are often known in the west as comfort food for most Indians.

tandoori chicken

On the contrary, south Indian cuisine is a recent addition to the Canadian culinary scene. The most noticeable difference between north Indian and South Indian cuisine is its combination of sour and spicy. South Indian food amalgamates tamarind and chillies in significant quantities to add flavour to their curries. The south Indian meals are mostly rice-based rather than bread, as south India produces rice in abundance, and hence it is home to the dishes prepared using rice, such as idlis, dosas, uttapam and so forth.

The south Indian curries are lentil-based; lentil is the most common element in stews prepared in south Indian cooking. The south Indian dishes feature dosa, a crepe prepared from rice flour, idli that is basically lentil rice cakes served with sambhar, a lentil and vegetable stew.

South India is also an avid cultivator of coconut, so South Indian meals are likely to use coconut-based ingredients in the dishes and the coconut milk substitutes cream or yoghurt. However, Indian restaurants in Canada offer both North Indian and South Indian food to Indian food lovers. 

Early Indian Restaurants in Canada

Canada’s food history with Indian cuisine follows some patterns established in Britain, which also consist of some peculiarities specific to the history of South Asian immigration to Canada.

Most south Asian immigrants who moved to Canada were single and male workers who lived in camp settings and worked in the logging and canning industries. These camps used to be isolated in nature.

The diets of these residents were based on commissary stores operated by the logging companies instead of having a separate industry catering to the foods the Indian immigrants were accustomed to.

indian restaurant near me

As time passed, immigration from South Asia increased and there began the journey of Sikhs running groceries and restaurants in the country. As communities blossomed in Toronto and Vancouver, more Indian restaurants started setting up in both the cities; this made finding authentic Indian Cuisine in Canada a lot easier.

Indian restaurants in Canada primarily emphasize North Indian cuisine because of the majority of Punjabi immigrants.

Stereotypes of Indian Cuisine

Like other establishments in Canada, even Indian restaurants in Canada used decor and staff uniforms to signal their authenticity. They fulfilled customers’ expectations of exotic, spicy food with a colonial past.

The misconception of the low price point of Indian food exist. That has been another complicating factor in establishing Indian restaurants in the country. The low-cost expectation is particularly challenging because of the work intensity that goes into preparing Indian cuisine.

Indian cuisine Canada

On top of that, racial perceptions of Indian food as cheap and greasy had formed. That lead South Asian immigrants into the food business. Indian cuisine is yet to attain popularity like other high-end cuisines.

However, some Indian restaurants in Vancouver are making it to the list of top restaurants in town, like Sula Indian. At Sula, we serve exotic Indian food in its most authentic essence. You can order online too or get your table reserved. Visit soon!!