By Vishal Jindal
Indians across the world celebrate their second pandemic Eid amid fear, anxiety, anger, but also a lot of hope.
If food is the language of love then for all the desis around the world, biryani has to be the language of brotherhood!
This Eid as Indians and Muslims across the world get ready to celebrate their second pandemic Eid, understandably there is — fear, anxiety, anger but also a lot of hope. A hope that the future may not look like the present and a hope that festivities will be back to normal sometime sooner.
While in the recent past, Indians may have been fidgeting over caste, customs, faith and practices, if you ask me, as a food expert and someone who loves studying cultures and cuisines and their inter-relationship, it is also the food that binds Indians together in a universal bond of brotherhood.
You ask me, how? Well, to begin with, let me give you a simple example – typically on festivals such as Eid, we at Biryani by Kilo are flooded by calls for orders and deliveries.
Interestingly, the orders and deliveries transcend across faith and cultures. On a festival like Eid, most who love their grub want to settle with a nice handi of biryani and feel the festival some consciously, some subconsciously.
As we move on to our second social distancing Eid, where visits to friends and neighbors to enjoy the Eid meal are a thing of the past, the trend has become more nuanced.
Looks like most food loving Indians like to feast over biryani and in some ways mark the festival. If we look deeper, if this does not speak of a cultural affinity then what does?
We may be bickering over non-issues but the real, average Indian misses the trips to their Muslim neighbors’ home for a round of sewayian and biryani with as much zeal as they miss the pre-Covid life.
As a food based business, we have an internal policy of conducting consumer moods, trends and tastes survey at least twice a year. This is an internal exercise, we put ourselves through to ensure that we know the mood of the eater and the palate of the consumer.
Encouragingly, in India and among Indians abroad we have found a cohesive fondness for similar food, cuisines, cuisine presentation and culinary heritage.
READ: Why Indian food has not gone mainstream in America (June 11, 2019)
Unless someone practices food restrictions like vegetarianism or veganism, our food choices and preferences overlap with such intensity, that re-enforces our faith that we are all but brothers, sometimes bickering over the unnecessary.
So, this Eid, I urge you all to forget all non-existent differences and bond over biryani, albeit in your individual homes!
But, in this talk about food and bonding, I do not forget that this Eid, particularly in India currently, is also an Eid of great responsibility. We are grieving the loss of our own, we are hurting as we see disease devouring our friends, family and neighbors.
So, this also has to be an Eid of humanity. If you have the privilege of being at home and marking the day with some food, make it your duty to feed at least one family who may not be currently having this privilege.
Those who may have lost their jobs, those who may be running around chasing hospitals and beds, those who are thinking of the next oxygen supply for their kin.
Just the other day, someone also confronted me with a critical view — “Isn’t it selfish to think about good food you have the luxury to order, while several are suffering in hospitals?”
Well, okay, if you look at it myopically. But if you think with a heart, every meal that you order keeps the fire burning in someone’s home, that may be less privileged than you.
As a business owner who is operating more than 50 mostly food delivery units across India, every morning when my staff from the cooks to the delivery boys get ready to begin their day, I feel that they are my superheroes.
They work to support their families and to bring respite to many like me and you who may not be in the health or heart to cook a meal during these times. Times are tough and every business we support being someone less privileged. Think about it.
Lets’ feed each other this Eid and speak this language of universal brotherhood. Believe me, a biryani is more than just a meal… it’s a bond like no other.
(Vishal Jindal is a food expert, researcher and co-founder and CEO of Biryani by Kilo – a unique food delivery chain with 50+ outlets across India.)