Sometimes I feel a little weird about the “ethnically inspired” recipes. You know what I’m talking about right? As we speak, I can be sure to scroll through an excess of “asian-style noodle salads” or “thai-style soup” on my pinterest homepage. Invariably these recipes are a watered down, flavor-reduced version of the actual dish resulting in something that is more universally appealing to the American palate.
Don’t get me wrong.. if you serve me these recipes I will probably eat them and deeply enjoy them. I am extremely intrigued by the Samosa Pot Pie recipe I saw recently… and while my outer snob wants nothing to do with it, my inner comfort-food craving self wants a bowl of potato curry covered with puff pastry passed over to me, nao please! I’m not entirely sure why, conceptually, I feel so uncomfortable with these food fusions/aka food thievery. Historically almost all cuisine has evolved by stealing. If we look at the actual history of the samosa (and not the pot pie version), we’ll find that the samosa is most likely Persian in origin, not Indian, and the recipe was probably transported to India during the 13th century or thereabouts. You can also see cultural variations on the samosa, called the Sambusa in parts of Africa, or Curry Puff in Malaysia, both of which likely evolved in a similar way.Perhaps my discomfort is because of the current access to information, including recipes, from all over the globe. We live in an era where one can find an authentic recipe for Tom Kha Gai on the internet, yet we insist on making it into “chicken soup- thai style!” for the masses. Food, for me, is a cultural experience. (And yes, I am including culturally-specific American food in this category.) Therefore when one waters down the flavor a bit, or makes it a little more like something familiar, I feel that the cultural experience is cheapened. That being said, I also deeply believe that creativity is what drives the best food creation. And fusions are nothing, if not creative innovative takes on classic recipes. I think there is a way to sensitively create fusion dishes that are an homage to the culture you’re stealing from, without cheapening or, worse, offending. I also think there is conceptually a 180 degree difference from altering to make a recipe more familiar, and altering a recipe to make it more innovative. I hope my recipe for Tandoori Cornish Game Hens falls into the latter category.
Tandoori Cornish Game Hens