When You Live In India But Can't Eat Indian Food
Updated: Jan 10
Ah the exotic that is India, which is no exception when it comes to Indian Cuisine, robust with a colourful array of spices. Punjabi Cuisine is not dissimilar with the use of spices however Punjab is known for it's creamy buttery flavours making Punjabi Cuisine much more rich in flavour. Being the agricultural state, Punjab is the major producer of wheat, rice and dairy products which form the basis of many of their cuisines. Therefore these products also form the staple diet of Punjabi people. Dairy products such as clarified butter, sunflower oil, paneer and butter are used in cooking. Clarified butter is most often used as the variant to ghee. Any meal isn't complete without a Indian flatbread such as roti, paratha or poori.
With such rich and powerful sweet and savoury dishes, whilst it can be a foodies heaven, it can also be detrimental to the health of someone who is not accustomed to such overpowering cuisines. Since living in India my health has been diminishing merely because I am not accustomed to a diet rich in oils, fats, butters, creams and an array of overpowering spices. Not only has this wreaked havoc on my gastrointestinal health but it has also slowly but surely been eroding my mouth, without my knowledge.
The back of my mouth in each crevice where the tongue connects are covered in hard nodules and patches of purple and red raw skin. The far corner inner walls of my left and right cheek are eroding leaving the skin all scarred with bumps and hollows. I only discovered this yesterday which prompted me to rush straight to the doctor, who referred me to an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist. Turns out the mouth infection that I first caught when arriving in India hadn't actually gone anywhere and had evolved into a severe mouth infection. I am now on five different medications and need to have another check up in five days.
Not only has my diet attributed to this infection, but also due to India being such a dirty environment in comparison to Australia. The drinking water whilst is clean, to someone living in a developed country it is ridden in bacteria. Even the water used to bathe in is considered dirty and certainly isn't fit for drinking purposes. Everywhere you go there are bacteria that as a foreigner your immune system has to fight harder to ward off. Which is why it is imperative to always use antibacterial gel to ensure you have clean hands. Even jogging is difficult as breathing in the harsh dusty air burns the back of your throat only exacerbating any mouth infections.
So what does one do when they live in Punjab but can't eat the local cuisine under doctors orders? Let me tell you it makes life especially challenging given that it is difficult to purchase different ingredients to cook with. I have been told that I cannot eat any oils, spices, sugar or anything that will inflame the infection. I can only consume stir fry vegetables for dinner which is what I was eating since suffering with food poisoning only a month ago. Now it is official that I have to continue to eat only stir fry vegetables. For breakfast I have oats then for lunch scrambled eggs and snack on fruit. Which is a healthy diet, however is not a varied diet of all the five food groups which is what I am normally used to.
To think that this infection started all because I caught the flu before departing for India which progressed to a sore throat once I arrived in India, only worsening to a mouth infection. This is why it is imperative to be healthy in India when travelling or living abroad. Not only does this help in preventing food poisoning or dysentery, but infections such as this. If you do suffer any illness in India you will most likely suffer acute symptoms in comparison to back home. This is simply because the environment is not conducive of recovery being an underdeveloped country. So be sure to keep safe if you are travelling or living in India as prevention is better than cure.
You can read more on How To Avoid Delhi Belly for tips on staying safe when dining in India.
Have you become ill whilst travelling or living in India?