Author and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor has complained about the search results that show up on Google when one types ‘South Indian spices’. Tharoor has written to Google CEO Sundar Pichai to address the issue of buxom women in suggestive poses coming up instead of actual spices in the results.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) July 7, 2017
While Pichai looks into the issue and tries to fix it with an algorithm, we have five alternate ways of fixing the problem that we hope people take note of.
Move beyond sambhar-chutney and Hyderabadi biryani
Here’s the basic first step. We need to experiment with more South Indian dishes to learn about the various masalas used in their preparation. South Indian doesn’t mean just idlis and dosas with sambhar and coconut chutney or Hyderabadi biryani. Try dishes from regions like Chettinad and Syrian Christian recipes such as Fish Moilee to learn about the heat index of various South Indian dishes.
Introduce spicy South Indian dishes to Indians
Did you know that the Nizams of Hyderabad liked spicy dishes and as a result the region developed its own distinct cuisine? No? Then try dishes like Kacche Gosht Ki Biryani, a raw meat-based rice dish that will challenge your definition of spicy food. Expand your knowledge and flavour profile by trying spicy dishes like Andhra Style Chicken Curry, Karavalli Mutton Curry and Mangalorean Crab Ajadina. If you’re even more adventurous, try Kerala-style offal cooked in masalas and Bommidayali Pulusu, an Andhra-style fish curry. Because these dishes are not exactly popular, most of us don’t know the spices associated with them.
Celebrate Southern festivals with a friend
Bhog during Durga Puja and Haleem during Ramzan are must-have dishes. What about South Indian festivals? Have you tried traditional dishes prepared during Vishu for example? Spiced rice porridge and various dishes made with jackfruit are commonly prepared during this harvest festival. Make it a point to celebrate and taste the regional spread during other South Indian festivals such as Onam, Dassera etc. You’ll come back with an appreciation for not just South Indian traditions but also the cuisine.
Use Southern spices in your regional cuisine
Now that you’ve become aware of spices used in South India and know that it has nothing to do with buxom women staring suggestively from B-grade movie posters, it’s time to incorporate these spices in your own dish. Use Gunpowder Masala instead of Garam Masala in one of your dishes for example. Buy pickles and chutney from the region to get used to these spices if experimenting beyond comfort South Indian food seems like an uphill task.
Stop being sexist
Finally, just stop associating spices with women. How the two came to be associated together is a mystery in itself. Women are human beings too, not something you sprinkle and eat it to your satisfaction. You wouldn’t burp after seeing a woman, right? Then don’t associate them with any food terms. Respect them as individuals and treat them as equals. The heydays of Silk Smitha and Shakeela have long been over.
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