Indo-Chinese is one of India’s most popular foods, though most people haven’t heard of it–including Chinese people. Why did Chinese food become so popular in India and what does it tell us about the history of these two regions? Today, this collaborative cuisine is taking over the world. Did you know that Chicken Manchurian isn’t Chinese? Nelson Wang, a third-generation Chinese immigrant in India, created the dish in 1975 while working at Mumbai’s Cricket Club. But Chinese food in India dates way further back than the 70’s. The oldest restaurant opened in 1925, and was frequented by many Bollywood stars. Chinese immigration to India dates way back to the 18th century, when many Chinese workers filled industries from sugar-mills to leather and carpentry. To cater to them, eateries began opening that would replace native Asian ingredients with Indian cooking staples. Further, Chinese men began marrying Indian women, making the union of these two cuisines even more tangible. Now found around the world, here’s the history of Indo-Chinese cuisine.
Biryani, one of the most beloved dishes in India and Pakistan, is iconic, regal, and dates back 3,000 years. Today, it has become a street food that is affordable and accessible to all–and it’s thanks to a brand that was launched in Karachi in the 1980’s: Shan Masalas. Usually made with meat and cooked in layers of spicy, tangy, and sweet flavors, Biryani is an elaborate rice dish. In the 1980’s, Shan Masala, packaged spice mixes, were launched–modernizing desi cuisine and freeing up many South Asian women’s time. In 2020 alone, Shan Masala made around $85 million USD in revenue. Mentions of Biryani have been found in Tamil poems that date as far back as 200 CE, to 17th century cookbooks from a royal Mughal kitchen. Biryani today represents several millennia of the subcontinent's unique mix of different flavors, techniques and cooking cultures. Though there’s a lot of hype around who invented biryani and who has the best biryani, every region has delicious biryani–and comes with its own story.
Which country actually invented dumplings? You’d probably think it’s China but historians have traced dumplings to Central Asia and the migration of Turkic people. It’s said that Turkic and Mongol tradesmen and horsemen traveled across Asia in cold winters carrying ‘mantu’, which we now call dumplings. That’s because 1600’s England called this delicious dough pocket ‘dumpling’, a sophisticated derivative of ‘lump’. In fact, when it comes to the origins of mantu, historians encourage us to look at language. Most Asian cultures call the dumpling how the Turks originally did–Koreans call it mandu, Greek people call it manti, Afghans call it mantu, and Chinese people call it mantou too. But the origins aren’t the only debatable part of the convo–who has the best dumplings?
We’ve all been taught recycling is a sustainable way each of us can make a difference. But the truth is that the plastics industry paid millions to push this message--and to sell more plastic. Here's the dark truth and how it's led to some serious consequences. Plastic industry officials long knew that recycling plastic on a large scale was unlikely to ever be economically viable. In fact, only 9% of all plastic ever created has been recycled. So where does all this plastic end up? While the U.S. is the world’s biggest plastic polluter, all of this waste is exported to Southeast Asian countries. We desperately need better recycling infrastructures set up locally than relying on dumping our waste in developing nations. And we need to be advocating for lasting solutions to the plastic problem because our waste is our problem.
Gautam Adani was Asia’s richest man and known as a shrewd businessman who has a close, personal relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In January, Hindenburg revealed corporate fraud by releasing a report on Adani Group that Hindenburg actually made a profit from. Now investors have bailed on Adani and it’s left huge redevelopment projects up in the air, which involves resettling a million people. Adani has accused Hindenburg of launching a “calculated attack on India” and his finance chief compared it to a British colonial-era massacre. While Modi has been silent on the Adani scandal, India’s 2024 general election approaches and it remains to be seen whether this corruption will influence voters’ choices. What we do know is that Indian oligarchs need to be checked in on, regularly and intensely.
Did you know that the average amount of times we wear clothing before throwing it away is 7? American saviorism deludes us to believe that “people in need will wear my old clothes” but what’s actually happening is the Global South becomes the dumping ground for the lifestyle and convenience of the Global North. This exploitation has turned Asia into a garment dump. So what can we actually do? Prioritize consuming less, elongating the lives of the clothes we have by repairing and mending, wearing hand-me-downs, buying used, and repurposing old clothes. Donating our clothes isn’t superior thinking disguised as a good deed. And outside of making changes to our own wardrobe, here’s how we can hold the perpetrators of waste colonialism accountable.