What is desi ?


What is desi

What is desi ?

Desi is used to describe people belonging to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. It indicates the association with the local people and culture of the Indian subcontinent. It also indicates one is rooted in their origin and linked to semi-urban or rural culture. It means indigenous, local and unadulterated.

Desi is a word related to the Sanskrit word Desh, which means a country.  The antonym of Desi is Videsi which means foreign (foreigner).  Desi food items are used to indicate rural or unadulterated kinds of stuff e.g. Makai Ka Atta (Maize flour), Desi Lal Mirch (Red Chilli) Powder or Mirchi.

Desi is derived from the word Des, meaning country and the word desi is used for people from southeast Asia, mainly India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Traditional Indian food prepared following the most original procedure, utensils and kitchen accessories is called desi cuisine. 

Today one can get lunch or desi breakfast or street food offerings like aloo tikki burgers, butter chicken wraps, chilli chips, Samosa other mouthwatering treats, even in the most unexpected places. Moreover, you can get desserts or beverages on the menu like sweet wraps, desi kadak chai, or other types of Indian flavours, or you can order chaiwallah desi street eateries to get unique desi flavours amalgamated in a fast food format.  

What is Desi Food?

The cuisine of the Indian subcontinent is referred to as desi food. Whether you order a curry or look for midweek dahl, or if you are heading out for some Bombay street food, desi Indian cuisine represents all such varieties. The food offered as desi of the Indian legacy is undoubtedly the curry. 

Still, Indian curry can be lentil soup or a dish of vegetables or meat doused in spicy sauce, or kurma or salon, as there are hundreds of variations in curries, and the flavours change depending on the regional herbs used in the preparation. 

One of the desi dishes is khichdi, a protein-rich food made from vegetables and lentils, and its British variant is made without lentils with rice, fish pieces and hard-boiled eggs served with butter or cream. 

Chutneys and pickles are desi Indian meal sides prepared with seasonal fruits and vegetables processed in preservatives. However, all such preparations changed into a new platter of assimilation with the influence of different cultures and heritages. 

The Anglo-Indian cuisine uses Indian recipes in British style diners with the option of combining the base ingredients, depending on the choice, with curry sauces into an Indian variant, or one can order the typical desi chicken tikka masala, made from a bowl of roasted chicken chunks dipped in spicy sauce or butter chicken formally known as murgh makhani prepared from chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices and cooked in a tandoor. 

You can order malai kofta or palak paneer for a typical desi vegetarian version. One of the popular regional recipes is rogan josh prepared from lamb. It has Persian origin, but in desi style, it was prepared with Indian herbs and masala to get unique curry flavours. 

Chaat, Gol Gappe and Samosa are desi street snacks offered by most roadside street vendors and local eateries in India, while there are several desi variants of each type of such snack; often, these are served with chickpea curry or yellow pea curry.  

Desi Meaning

Desi refers to the country of origin; mainly, it refers to something indigenous or local, though one must be aware of the exceptions to the rules of their usage. The word can be used better by considering the geographical location, historical context, personal preferences and linguistic differences. 

The Indian subcontinent includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh and people belonging to these countries are known as Desis. The word Desi means belonging to a country. It is a term used for people, culture, cuisine and products belonging to the subcontinent. 

Desi diaspora is the social practices, habits, materials and other things which are part of the lifestyle of the people who migrated to other countries. For example, in the ancient and early modern migrations of people from the Indian subcontinent to Africa, the US and UK, when people left their homeland, the term desi was used to revive nostalgia for the homeland. 

India is home to one of the most vibrant flavours and spice preparations. Indian desi cuisine, from the coast to the mountains, from the deserts and valleys to the forests, each region offers unique flavoursome recipes prepare from regional herbs and spices. 

Those looking for a rich stew can get rogan josh or another lamb variant prepared in clarified butter and aromatic spices like cinnamon, clove and cardamom, where yoghurt is used as a thickener, or you can get vegetable-based curries or navaratan kormas made from veggies, nuts and cream. In India, you can find Goan savours, made in Portuguese style but with basic Indian spices like tamarind, palm wine, black pepper, and chilli peppers that replace vinegar.

The typical desi cuisine in rural India involves seasonal vegetables, fruits, herbs and grains. For example, spinach and other leafy greens grow throughout the year, and it is part of the staple food of rural India, where people work in labour-intensive farms. In addition, they often take maise or finger millet dishes or fermented grains offered with green leafy vegetables to fulfil the need for additional nourishment. 

Is Desi The Same As Indian?

Indian is used for people who belong to India, and Desi indicates the connectivity with the local traditional culture of the Indian subcontinent. 

The word desi can be used for local or native. It also refers to someone from a homeland or humble lifestyle.

What is Desi Culture?

Desi culture is not just about fashion or accessories. It is about the way you act and live in a society. For example, one of the desi ways to greet elders in India is by touching their feet or doing namaskar. You follow the desi customs of offering rituals and prayers from childbirth to marriage and organise social ceremonies to show you are part of the culture. Spiritualism, yoga, celebrations, cuisine, costumes and lifestyle are part of the culture. 

Though the young generation is not more in touch with the traditional culture, older women are aware of the regional desi practices. The older generations have traditional views on mixed relationships or inter-ethnic relationships; the young adults who have grown up in the UK or US are exposed to many ethnic groups and are increasingly accepting diverse cultures and practices. 

Also, with so much influence, the typical Asian wedding may not be the same in the next decades. Celebrations like Diwali, Holi or Seasonal Melas attract people of all cultures. These can be the biggest celebrations, where the visitors enjoy the music, the dances and other events, which are integral to reconnecting to the homeland culture. 

What Is The Difference Between Indian And Desi?

Indian is a person who is a citizen of India, and Indians have made significant contributions to technology, science, literature, art and culture. Both Indian and Desi can be used to describe interchangeably. Indian is a standard term used to identify people from India, like Pakistani is used for someone from Pakistan. Desi is a colloquial term referring to anyone from the Indian subcontinent like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh or India. 

Indian is used for people who identify with the culture and its values. Desi is used for all communities who belong to South East Asian countries regardless of their cultural or religious affiliations; they identify with the ethnicities in the region. 

What Does Desi Stuff Mean?

Depending on the geographical location, the word Indian and Desi may have different meanings. In the US, the word Desi refers to people from South Asia, and in the UK, the term refers to people specifically from the Indian subcontinent. Desi stuff refers to traditional and local items; for example, desi dishes are served at restaurants, and desi music may gain popularity. 

Someone can be a Desi entrepreneur, or Desi weddings are known for certain rituals, music, dance and costumes. To avoid mistakes in using desi and Indian, one must educate oneself on the distinctions. 

What is Desi Society?

Desi societies are created by people of the same ethnic or cultural background where individuals come together from various backgrounds and communities to form the Desi society, and individuals belonging to a particular South Asian region join a community. 

What are Desi People?

Desi refers to those in South Asia who are living in the diaspora. The typical Desi people are often depicted as the ones who belong to the Indian culture, and they are not ready to accept other cultures. There may be places where desis may not feel comfortable being desi as others may not embrace it. 

The traditional Asian communities have been extremely tight-knit. They did not accept people from other communities, and nowadays, the new generation has changed and adopted a more Western lifestyle. The desi culture continues to evolve across boundaries, and the changes can be attributed to the generational gap and those born and bred in the UK. 

The difference is seen in the dress sense and language. However, the older generation continues to wear traditional dress and speak the mother tongue; the Young Asians are not wearing ethnic clothes. They keep such dresses for special occasions like weddings or other traditional ceremonies. 

Rather the younger generation does not read or write the Desi language, and they do not understand how the cultural traditions or rituals are performed on various occasions. Desi characteristics are something someone acquires growing up in a social and psychological background. Without a psychological connection to a culture, you cannot force yourself to change the core social practices or beliefs. 

There are many religious places like temples and mosques outside India. Yet, third-generation children rarely go to such places and are no longer attracted to or pulled towards their homeland. Rather the Desi cuisine and traditional knowledge were passed through generations by the South Asian men and women who used the knowledge to nurture families in the unfamiliar country to keep them rooted in the social group. 

Though the children are not following the same path, one can find many steakhouses, dessert parlours, fast food, shisha and takeaways that meet the requirement of third-generation Asians. The young generation has more wealth and better income, living in tight-knit towns in the most affluent parts of countries where some Asian tend to exhibit their culture in the classical grandeur and rich style. 

One may think the desi culture is dying, and only the older South Asians were trying to adapt to the unfamiliar environment and balance the Western and Eastern lifestyles. Alternatively, it can be interpreted as an adaptation to the new culture, especially the language and family traditions, to promote acceptance.  

Is Desi Offensive?

In the US in the 1940s, Indian immigrant workers established themselves as the most sought high-tech workers, and then they settled there with friends, family and others. Nowadays, over 50 per cent of the taxi drivers in New York are desis, indicating the wave of middle-class immigrants searching for jobs in Europe and the US. 

However, the classification is no longer accurate as desi does not always mean someone driving a taxi; sometimes, desi is used for the model minority. Progressive desis living in different parts of the world seek full engagement of their desi in the complex multicultural societies where they try to create a space to redefine their identity in the eyes of the homeland and the new land.


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