How inflation is affecting Indian holiday food and traditions

Soaring inflation is affecting how communities in South Asia celebrate this year’s holiday in British Columbia, according to one chef and restaurant owner.

food expenses stubbornly high all over the bill 11.4% increase Last month’s annual pace picked up from the 11% increase seen in October, even though overall inflation fell to 6.8%.

As many communities gather for holiday celebrations, rising food costs are impacting not only traditional turkey dishes, but also South Asian dishes such as samosa and mitai. Traditional sweets given out on holidays.

Chef Rajiv Arora thirty years Simon Fraser University’s culinary department chair, says both ingredients and prepared foods are affected.

“Most Indian desserts, our ethnic desserts… quite a few are fried,” he told CBC News. really increased.

“Cooking processes, mithai and snacks are now very expensive in the market.”

A South Asian man in a chef's uniform is standing in the kitchen.
Rajeev Arora, who runs kitchens at hotels such as JW Marriott and Fairmont, said the high cost of ingredients, especially oil, has had a major impact on the production of Indian cuisine. (submitted by Rajeev Arora)

he is a samosa Murukku Affected by high oil prices, Spiked more than other foods.

“People are doing a lot of takeout, [takeout] The box has become an expensive product,” he said.

Sharing food is an essential part of South Asian celebrations, the chef said, and community members tell him that it’s getting harder to plan events during the holidays.

“They can’t spend money openly because inflation is affecting their budgets,” he said. “It’s getting harder to share the wonderful gestures of Diwali and Christmas.

“As a chef, it’s very difficult to plan a menu or execute something.”

Trimming menu items

Rising food costs have also affected industry players who expect large parties and corporate orders during the holiday season.

As supply chain issues and transportation costs worsen around the world, Asian grocery store According to Bob Singh, wholesalers are starting to raise prices rapidly.

Shin, who owns Ginger Indian Cuisine, a restaurant in Richmond, British Columbia, said menu prices are likely to increase “significantly” in 2023.

A squat brown building in a strip mall says 'Ginger Indian Cuisine'. A small sign says
Ginger Indian is located on Blundell Road in Richmond. Its owner says it has removed the item from the menu entirely due to the high cost of some ingredients. (Google Street View)

The price of a vegetarian samosa at his restaurant has already increased from $1.75 before the pandemic to $2.25.

He said some restaurants rely on frying ingredients in used oil to make a single bottle last longer, and restaurants are getting creative with their food preparation.

“We have to source products from everywhere we can get them,” he said. “The first thing people notice is that there is a compromise in quality.

“Maybe the pieces were cut too big, maybe they were thicker in size, maybe they were smaller in size, maybe they had a different batter on them.”

According to Singh, the high cost of one item, cauliflower, has led to the elimination or drastic modification of foods containing that ingredient, such as aloo gobi.

“A box of cauliflower cost about $22 to $24,” he said. “Two weeks ago, the same box was $95.”

Another ingredient whose rising prices have hurt Singh’s bottom line is chicken, which is often used in Indian restaurants because it is suitable for many religious beliefs. According to him, the price he has increased by more than three dollars per kilogram.

Singh said he wants to warn customers that Indian restaurants that don’t raise their prices are likely to be significantly compromising on products that could lead to health risks.

make food at home

Singh says he’s heard customers limit their budgets when visiting his restaurant.

“People who used to come three or four times a month now come twice a month.

Arora encourages South Asian communities to experiment by creating delicacies and snacks at home rather than buying ready-made ones.

“It definitely helps balance the budget,” he said.

“It will be [then] It doesn’t have to be expensive to share with others. ”

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