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General Discussion 32

Dividing South Asian Cuisine as Broadly as Possible

Jim Leff | Jun 17, 201503:23 PM

I need to divide up South Asia into the fewest number of parts, to organize writing about regional cuisine for newbies. This is hard for me. I'm used to going the other way....making as many distinctions and sub-divisions as possible! Reductiveness doesn't come naturally to me!

Here's where I'm at:

General Indian
North Indian
South Indian
Bengali (and Bangladeshi)
Gujurati
Punjabi
Sri Lankan/Tamilian
Indian/Chinese
Nepali
Pakistani

This is already crazily reductive, I know. But if I were to reduce it one more notch, what's my best move?

I guess the most obvious merger would be Pakistani and North Indian. If I wanted to go still further with merging into North Indian, would it be more silly to merge Punjab or Bengal? I think of both as so distinctive that I'm not sure which would be more "northern" (in terms of cuisine, not geography). Maybe I need to leave Punjab and Bengal un-merged? I'm pretty sure Gujurat needs to stand alone.

I don't think there's room to merge Sri Lankan/Tamilian into South Indian.

It would be amusing to group "Indian/Chinese" into Nepali (since it's a Nepali creation), but there are so many Indian/Chinese restaurants now that the general reader needs guidance, so that will remain a separate category.

Any thoughts/advice welcome.

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