In Gurugram, expats add desi twist to beat lockdown food challenges – gurugram
Expats living in the city, as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on and a lockdown is enforced by the administration, have been forced to tweak their palates and find joy in more humble food items of daily offerings.
So, most of them have tried to innovate by replacing their imported food products with desi items on their kitchen shelves. Smoked salmon has given way to local prawns, frozen parathas have come on the menu in place of European bread, sausages have been replaced by chicken with skin or eggs, as many shops selling imported items have found it hard to replenish their stocks owing to the closure of international borders.
Many shop owners in the city said that they have told their patrons that stocking up on imported food has become difficult.
SM Verma, department manager, La Marcche said, “Imported cereals disappeared from our shelves even before the lockdown began. We ran out of stock of Italian pasta. Most foreigners then started relying on Indian products.”
Online food stores said that prices of certain imported products have gone through the roof.
Digvijay Singh Kushwa, who runs an online food store, Digi Fresh, said, “Avocados from New Zealand and blue berries are out of stock. However, we have identified an importer who could replenish our stocks but obviously at a high price.”
Some South Koreans, who purchase food products from premier imported shops in the city, claimed that even essential products were hard to find in such stores during the ongoing lockdown.
Ja Young Lee, who has been living in the city for the last eight years, said, “There is a Korean shop where we get most of the ingredients used in preparing Korean food. However, Korean sauce, which is one of the main ingredients of our food, is not available. So, we had to do with whatever we had.”
The Korean community relies on WhatsApp groups to help each other out . “Korean people give whatever they had stocked up in their kitchen to others who were running short. A family helped me in getting some sauce also, so it worked out well,” added Lee.
Like Lee, most expats in the city said are relying on the second best option available to them, Indian food products. For some, this alternative food has even proven to be yummier than their usual fare.
Seiko Uchida, a Japanese expat who lives in an apartment complex on Golf Course road, said, “As imported juices were not available at any stores in the city, I introduced my kids to flavoured drinks, which they immensely loved. The stores had also fallen short of European bread, so I found stuffed paratha packet and we liked the spices and enjoyed it. Now, my kids want me to make parathas.”
Unlike stuffed parathas, Andrey Khon — who works as a station manager of Uzbekistan Airways in New Delhi — said there was a shortage of some basic seafood in the city. So his family tried Korean delicacies as many Korean food stores were open during the lockdown period.
“Seafood, which I could easily buy, like smoked salmon, oyster, mussels, had disappeared,” said Khon. He then fell back on prawns, which were easily available as a replacement for his favourite salmons. “I have Korean blood running in my family and they have always liked Korean food.We relied on getting food products from Korean marts at South Point Mall,” added Khon.
Like Andrey, Fernanda Ramos from Brazil who lives in Sector 53, siad she has found it hard to get poultry in the city markets.
Ramos bought a dozen eggs every third day, to replace chicken which was not easily available in the city, she said. “I had problems in buying chicken and yeast for bread. All markets experienced supply problems because of the restrictions placed at the Delhi-Gurgaon border. I had to survive on eggs for many days as the products available in the supermarkets were not sufficient,” said Ramos, who has been living in the city for three years.
For Japanese-born Jintatsu Asada, who came to Gurugram six years ago, getting hold of chicken with skin was a challenging task. He and his family relied on sausages instead of their favourite chicken with skin.
“I was not able to find any shop where I could buy chicken with its skin. In India people eat chicken without its skin but in Japan we eat it with its skin and that’s where the taste lies. So, I normally would get the chicken with the skin in a local market. But, now with the lockdown in place, i couldn’t find it. No online delivery store was giving us this option either,” said Asada.