International Cuisine Night
International Cuisine Night, organized by IAESTE Manipal, saw the intercultural mingling between the local committees of Manipal and Graz, Austria. The planning for this event has been going on since January. For the first time, this event was hosted in The Department of Culinary Arts, WGSHA, instead of the usual venue, the MIT Cafeteria.
IAESTE Manipal is hosting a delegation of eleven from Graz’s local committee for a period of four days, from the first to the fourth of April. IAESTE Manipal’s chairperson, Abhimanyu Saini, says that “We want to provide a rich cultural experience to our guests from Austria and to strengthen our professional ties with them.”
The evening’s menu featured Indian and Austrian delicacies, prepared by the local committees of both countries and by the faculty of the culinary arts department. For many of the MIT students, it was their first time standing in a kitchen but they took the challenge head on and emerged victorious with an array of dishes to show. From six in the evening to a good two hours after that, the kitchen was abuzz with more than 60 aspiring chefs. The aroma of spices and other ingredients filled the entire floor with an infectious energy, clearly visible by the smiles and the perspiration on everyone’s faces. Sanjana Gupta, a first year student at MIT and a member of Manipal’s local committee, initially started the day thinking she would make Paneer Tikka and pasta in white sauce but ended up making Paneer “Bombs” and Chili Paneer Pizza. It was her first time in the kitchen but she found it “fun to do it in a group.”
Other dishes made by the Indian students were Paan Shots, Gobi Manchurian, Shahi Paneer, Paneer Tikka, Fruit Cream, Gulab Jamun, Dhokla and Shahi Tukda. Of these, the ones worth writing home about were the paan shots, the Shahi Paneer, the Fruit Cream and the Shahi Tukda. These dishes showed innovation, flair, finesse and above all, flavor. Laura, one of the Austrian delegates, was pleasantly surprised by the Indian dishes. She had always thought that Indian cuisine involves “rich and spicy” food, but she realized that this wasn’t the case and said that, “I would love to try out the Indian restaurants back home but I doubt they will be as good.”
The delicacies made by the Austrian delegates resonated with their culture and their homeland. One of the dishes was a Strudel, which is a baked savory potato dish. They put a lot of effort in making it but unfortunately used the wrong kind of flour, making the base of the dish hard and inedible. Veljko, a student from the Technical University of Graz and one of the eleven delegates, was engaged in making Kaiserschmarrn, which is a sweet pancake-based dish from Austria. He said that,” I’m curious to see what we manage to cook by the end of the day.” Speaking on his impression of India, Veljko said that, “This is my first time in India and so far it’s been very interesting and when I go back, I’ll definitely suggest my friends and family to visit India.” Needless to say, the Kaiserschmarrn was a treat for the taste buds with its crunchy texture and its sweet taste. The Austrians also brought chocolates and cold cuts from their country. One of these delectable snacks was a ball of chocolate that had to be dipped in a syrup and then put on fire finally to be consumed, flame and all. Many of the Indian students were afraid of this flaming ball of chocolate but were pleasantly surprised by its rich and creamy texture.
Many dignitaries from Manipal University were also present for this function. Dr. M. V. Kini, Associate Director of Alumni and International Affairs, MIT, Col. MGHS Rajan,the MU Chief Warden and Dr. Karunakar A. Kotegar, Deputy Director of International Affairs and Collaborations had graced the event with their presence. Dr. Kotegar who is also the faculty advisor for IAESTE Manipal was very excited about the evening’s proceedings. He said that this event was “the first of its kind” and he hoped that it would lead to better relations with their Austrian counterparts, paving the way to more active exchange programs. He also expected the students to learn from each other’s cultures and to “become lifelong friends.” He also mentioned how this event would break some of the misconceptions most foreigners have about Indian food, for it being too spicy and rich, and truly enough the Indian dishes of the night did indeed prove that.
After the tasting session of the dishes made by the students was over, dinner was served. The master chefs at DOCA, WGSHA had taken time out of their busy schedules to cook a delicious four course menu for the delegates and the local committee members. The menu featured popular Indian dishes like Butter Chicken, Kadhai Paneer and Gulab Jamun among others. All the local committee members and the delegates ate together at the same table exchanging stories, jokes and recipes.
To sum it up, the International Cuisine Night truly served as a bridge between the cultures of India and Austria. Everyone had a great time working in the kitchen and in tasting each other’s creations. It is true that food is a language that knows no barriers and it is over this language that the students from Manipal and Graz bonded and made some everlasting memories.