swissinfo.ch student blogger Devendra Shintre shares how he went from novice to alchemist in the shared kitchen of his university accommodation.
Hi / Grüezi,
Let me start by introducing myself. I am Devendra, an Indian student studying in the Alpine nation of Switzerland. If you are looking to get an idea of student life in Switzerland this blog series is tailor made for you.
First few posts will cover the basic needs, namely food and shelter, and how we students manage them here. Let me start with the most important one - food.
Unlike India, dining out can be very costly in Switzerland. So, almost all the students must cook. Like most of the Indian students, before coming to Switzerland my culinary skills were limited to Maggi (instant noodles) and tea. When I decided to study in Zurich, it was suggested that I should learn cooking. So, I did a quick crash course under my mom’s guidance and learned to cook dal-rice and vegetable subji.
My mom taught me the basics, but my learning curve got steeper only after I had moved. Cooking was not optional anymore, it was essential for the survival!
On my first day, being lazy, I cooked dal-rice, the easiest dish. Next day, I experimented with roti-subji. Although most of the Indian vegetables are available here, they can however be costly. So, I had to adapt. For example, instead of “lauki (bottle gourd)”, I had to settle for “zucchini”.
Now came the hardest part – preparing roti. I still remember my first roti, which was shaped roughly like the African continent. After a week’s practice, my rotis started becoming round, as they should be.
I took the experimenting a step further and tried western-Indian fusion food. My first dish was “Fried Egg Spaghetti”. It was cheap, easy to make, and tasty, and for the same reason, I cook it almost every alternate day. On a side note, importance of pasta/spaghetti for Swiss students can be compared with the importance of Maggi for Indian students.
Although there is a significant Indian student population in Switzerland, it is not as big as other student destinations, like the USA or Australia. Therefore, one rarely ends up cooking together with fellow Indians. However, if you are sharing your flat with international students, the kitchen is usually the place where you would end up meeting them. I learned quite a lot about Dutch and Taiwanese cuisine from my flat mates.
One can take interesting recipe ideas from others and inculcate in one's own cuisine. You can always take it a step further and organize communal dinners.
I am Devendra, an Indian Masters student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ). I am an engineer by education but my love for travelling is my passion.
I moved to Switzerland in February 2018. Fast forward a few months, and here we are! As a foreigner, especially an Indian student, at the beginning, everything felt different. It was a very different culture than mine but slowly and steadily, I got used to Swiss customs and a new language. After that the Alpine nation opened itself to me!
I have got a unique set of experiences as an Indian student studying in Switzerland. I would be more than happy to share them with you!end of infobox