K-Drama and Southeast Asian cultural influence on Indian food are significantly visible, especially among the younger generation. Here’s a deep dive into it.
There was a time when Chinese cuisine used to rule the hearts of Indians. People used to prefer Chinese food as their favourite Asian cuisine. Before, people used to prefer Chinese cuisine as their preferred Asian cuisine. However, in recent years, India has seen an entirely new and more diverse palate. People are no longer limited to noodles; they are experimenting with various Asian cuisines such as Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Burmese, and Thai. Not only is this trending and with that we are seeing restaurants build around multiple ideas delivering the best of Sushi, Ramen Singaporean Roll, and Bento Boxes, to mention a few.
Central Asian, East Asian, North Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and West Asian cuisines are the branches of Asian food. A cuisine is a distinct type of cooking practice and traditions connected with a particular culture. Asia, the world’s largest and most populous continent, is home to several cultures, each with its own distinct cuisine.
Rice, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, dried onions, soy, and tofu are common ingredients in various cultures in the continent’s East and Southeast. Common cooking methods include stir-frying, steaming, and deep-frying. While rice is ubiquitous in most Asian cuisines, distinct types are favoured in different places. Glutinous rice is deeply engrained in Laos’ culture, religious tradition, and national identity.
Basmati rice is popular in the Indian subcontinent, jasmine rice is popular throughout Southeast Asia, long-grain rice is popular in China, and short-grain rice is popular in Japan and Korea. Curry is a popular cuisine throughout South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.
The sudden rise of Asian foods other than Chinese Cuisine:
The reason why Indians prefer other Asian foods over Chinese is that the sort of content being viewed has changed. People are increasingly drawn to Asian content, particularly “Japanese” and “Korean.” People are binge-watching Japanese anime, Korean dramas, Thai dramas, and so on, which piques their interest in experiencing east and southeast Asian culture (specifically food culture).
Reasons why Japanese food culture is trending in India:
- Manga and anime, j-drama, and j-pop culture are all gaining popularity in India. As a result, it is no longer difficult to discover restaurants that provide wonderful Japanese and Asian cuisine. Along with these eateries and cafés, several events are arranged to allow anime enthusiasts to meet other Otaku. If there is one thing that thrills us more than the great plots and animation in anime, it is the appetizing snacks and cuisine portrayed in these anime. It’s no secret that these scenes made us all crave actual Japanese cuisine. Not only anime or manga culture but also Jpop and j-drama culture, have recently influenced Indian taste.
- Previously, Japanese food for Indians only meant sushi or sashimi, which in the perceptions of locals meant ‘raw fish.’ However, as Indians began to travel overseas more frequently, their knowledge of Japanese food grew. They discovered that Japanese food is much more than sushi and sashimi and began to experiment with dishes like udon, ramen, soba, and even Japanese curry. The Japanese food exhibition was a huge success in terms of showcasing the diverse range of Japanese cuisine.
Impact of the popularity of Japanese food culture in India:
The Japanese cuisine’s appeal has only expanded. After-work ramen or teppanyaki with a glass of sake has become a way of life for many, and we can thank eateries like Sushi, Izumi, Seefah, Kofuku, and Guppy, among others, for satisfying those last-minute needs.
You might think that the popularity of this cuisine is a passing fad, but the sudden influx of new Japanese restaurants in India, Tsubaki, Taki-Taki, Wakai in Mumbai; Harajuku Cafe and Mensho Tokyo in New Delhi, Makutsu, Izumi’s, and Kofuku’s new outlet in Goa; and Oyama in Chennai, to name a few, within a year proves otherwise.
In Japanese food, there are curries in Japanese cuisine that taste similar to those in Indian cuisine. Various Japanese spices are appealable to the Indian taste. And one interesting thing is Japanese tea (Matcha), tea which is popular in both cultures. But it is not limited to only Sushis. Donburi dishes with various toppings are available. Some of the most popular are Oyakodon, Katsudon or Pork Cutlet Donburi, and Kaisendon or Seafood Donburi.
According to the UberEats survey, Mumbai, Delhi, and Guwahati are the top cities in India where people prefer Japanese food the most.
Food exports from Japan increased by 40% in 2018, indicating the growing popularity of Japanese cuisine in India. Even as it collaborates with multiple groups to improve this, it has bestowed a government-authenticated designation on 36 fine dining establishments.
Following this, the country’s Ambassador, Kenji Hiramatsu, told IANS in an interview that in 2018, the export of Japanese food from Japan to India increased to about 1.3 billion Japanese yen (about Rs 833 million), which translates to more than 40% increase compared to 900 million Japanese yen (about Rs 580 million) in 2016.
He stated that the Japanese government is currently working to increase agricultural product and food exports to India and is in talks with Indian government agencies such as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (MoAFW), and Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI).
Few restaurants such as Harajuku Tokyo Cafe, Saket & Gurgaon (New Delhi), Leaping Windows Café (Mumbai), Wasabi by Morimoto in Mumbai, Guppy and Megu in New Delhi, Zen and Aajisai in Kolkata, Kazé and Edo in Bangalore, and Ohm and Hega in Hyderabad, all these places provide Japanese dishes to fulfil your taste buds.
These cafes and restaurants are increasing job and business opportunities for many. Various small businesses are emerging under the impact of Japanese food culture in India.
Reasons why Korean food culture is in trend in India:
- Covid-19 has brought about many new changes in our life, one of which is the way we consume food. Binge-watching has given rise to many new cuisines and foods, with Korean food topping the list of food preferences that grew during the epidemic. The increase of K-drama lovers in India also brought them to Korean food, prompting restaurant owners to experiment with this cuisine. The expanding popularity of K-Food in India has also created a one-of-a-kind growth potential for Korean food makers, ingredient and condiment manufacturers, and the consumer foodservice sector in India after 2020.
- According to Euromonitor, the increased viewing of K-drama and K-Pop has boosted the uptake and consumption of Korean noodles in India. Viewership of K-dramas and K-pop music on Netflix, an internet streaming platform, increased by 370% year on year in 2020, and imports of Korean noodles in India increased by 162%. According to the survey, K-Dramas acquired appeal in India due to aspects such as storyline, fashion, and aesthetics.
- It’s not unexpected that Indians are drawn to Korean cuisine. Rice, noodles, veggies, and meat, as well as sesame oil, chilli, pepper, soy, and spices, are common ingredients in both Korean and Indian cuisine. The Korean cuisine plate includes a protein source such as beef or tofu, broth, rice, and side dishes such as kimchi, seaweed, anchovies, and so on. Both Indian and Korean cuisines use many comparable elements such as rice, vegetables, meat, chilli, spices, etc. “Kimchi,” for example, is quite similar to flavour-charged Indian pickles.
Impact of the popularity of Korean food culture in India:
According to Euro monitor, which conducted an interview with a prominent South Korean noodle business, Nong Shim, there would be a sale of 1 million USD in 2020, a 130% increase from 2019. It also sees India as a significant market and is focused on items for Indian consumers.
Because of their high wealth and customer awareness, Nong Shim and another prominent Korean Noodle brand, Samyang, are currently pursuing Tier 1 Indian markets. As a result, we can conclude that Korean culture acquired widespread acceptability in India in 2020 and will continue to do so in the coming years as its fan base grows.
According to experts, the influence of Korean culture in entertainment, fashion, and skincare is also aiding in the promotion of traditional foods and culinary products. Fast-food businesses are also getting on the Korean food bandwagon, owing to the Indian craze for it.
Korean dishes are simple, yet contain different flavours. Restaurants like Tteokbokki at Seoul restaurant (New Delhi), Daily Sushi (Bangalore), Sibang and Hahn’s Kitchen(Gurugram), and King’s Bakery (Kolkata) serve authentic Korean dishes such as Bibimbap, Kimchi, Bulgogi, and etc these places attract customers in huge numbers. Again these many small and big Korean restaurants are creating a healthy economic environment.
The popularity of other Asian cuisine and its impact (excluding Chinese, Japanese and Korean):
Similarly, Thai food is creating a buzz and is mostly liked in Bengaluru, Chennai, and Pune due to the increased consumption of Thai content such as Thai Dramas (Thai Dramas), with Chinese being a favourite meal among people in Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.
There is also a resurgence of Japanese-Peruvian cuisine. Food imports from Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, are increasing in India. In 2011, there was a 15-25% growth in volume across all food and beverage categories, including biscuits, ready-to-eat meals, chocolates, and noodles. The demand for Southeast Asian product brands has increased, according to distributors.
As a result, we can see that Asian food trends are rapidly expanding throughout India. Different Asian cuisine brands are targeting Indian customers and acquiring a larger share of the industry by enrooting to foreign places as well as a result of worldwide popularity.
(Purbasha Palit is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University.)
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Partnersincrave.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)