Aarhus University Seal

Desis in Denmark: How to find South Asian food in Aarhus

Indians are famously known to take their kitchen along when they move abroad, and we were no exception. However, the check-in baggage allowance only allowed us so much to bring when we moved to Aarhus from Bengaluru, India. How did we navigate life and cooking good Indian food for ourselves in a new country? Read on to know.

Home is where the heart is. Home is also where the fully-stocked spice rack is! If you’ve ever eaten Indian food, then you know how spices are the true heroes of any of our dishes. All it takes is a splash of cumin, tumeric, chilli, coriander and garam masala (a blend of ground spices) to turn a boring pot of lentils into a delicious daal.  

Moving abroad is a great time to experiment, not just with global cuisines, but also your own cooking skills. It really is the best time for your inner MasterChef to shine. And there’s nothing like managing studying, socialising and building a new life in a new country to get those creative juices flowing.

Think easy one pot dishes, fail safe recipes, hacks to save rice that is undercooked, overcooked, and what not!  

But even in the midst of all the experimenting, we knew there was no way we could abstain from Indian food. The search for ingredients and dishes began soon enough – almost a week after we moved! And guess what? We can now safely say that Aarhus has almost everything you need for your homesick heart.

Indian restaurants in Aarhus

India is a huge country. And luckily, restaurants in Aarhus recognise this too. So it was great to see that the cuisine choice at these restaurants ranges from South Indian to Punjabi. You can also find biryani, chaats and samosa.  

While Denmark’s pastry game is truly sublime, there are times you just crave something familiar. And if you know the right places to hit, you could also find gulab jamoon, gajar halwa, and kheer in some of them.  

So, here are some places to bookmark the next time you crave Indian food: 

  • The Spice of India - Indisk Takeaway 
  • Taste of Punjab
  • Royal Indian Aarhus
  • The South Indian
  • Indian Curry House
  • Pearl India
  • Masala – Indian Take Away and Restaurant
  • Indisk
  • Indisk – Aarhus Street Food
  • Cuisine – Aarhus Street Food
  • Ammis – butterchicken
  • Restaurant Zafran
  • Indian Mihra Punjabi
  • Everest Kitchen – Street Food

All of them are located in Aarhus C except for Indian Mihra Punjabi, which is located within Bazaar Vest in Aarhus V. They can all be easily found on Google Maps. Also good to know: These can be reached by public transport. This was great because from firsthand experience, it was difficult to cycle back after a scrumptious meal!  

There are also times you want something easy on the wallet. For those times, check out Indian ‘mealboks’ or ‘buffetboks’ on TooGoodToGo – an app that restaurants can use to fight food waste by selling any unsold food at a cheaper price at the end of the day. You don’t get to choose the dishes here but sometimes surprises are fun. Most only serve dinner and are open from around 17:00 until 21:00 or 22:00.  

Restaurant Zafran and the places at Aarhus Street Food are also open for lunch from around 11:30. The outlets at Aarhus Street Food are usually more wallet-friendly. While weekdays are no issue, we would recommend reservations for weekend dining. Because it turns out, Indians are not the only fans of this food.  

We were both pretty amazed to know how much Danes enjoy Indian food too. The World Kitchen, which takes place every Tuesday at Ungdomkulturhuset (UKH), hosts Indian dinner nights. There is no specific set date, but you can look it up on Facebook or Instagram. There usually is at least one Indian dinner night every semester, and it is a delight to be part of the event. 

Cooking at home and finding Indian ingredients

Yes, there are many Indian restaurants in Aarhus. The prices are competitive too and it does get expensive if you eat out regularly While ocassional visits are fun, we always prefer to cook meals in our dorms. Both the stomach and wallet enjoy this too.  

Surprisingly, sourcing ingredients has not been difficult. Østens Specialiteter near the train station, the Asian Food Store in Bazaar Vest and the vegetable market within Bazaar Vest offer almost every item you would need to cook . From atta for chapathi to mango pickle, all varieties of daal and rice to asafoetida, these stores have it all. We could even find jackfruit, raw banana, okra (bhindi) and bittergourd at the vegetable market in Bazaar Vest!  

It’s also the place to get the zingy green chillies and curry leaves too. When you go shopping in these stores, make sure to carry an air tight container as they also offer fresh jamoon, jalebi, rasgulla and samosa. 

One of the first things that amused us upon our arrival was how much our Danish roommates used turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, cinnamon and ‘curry powder.’ We now swap tips and tricks while we cook together in the dorm kitchen. A Dane teaching an Indian how to make lentils taste better? Now that’s an experience you don’t get at home! 

As for ingredients, having explored all supermarkets, we found that Super Brugsen and Coop365 have more options when it comes to Indian ingredients. They store dal (masoor and toor), channa (chickpeas), rajma (red and black beans), rice (jasmine, basmati, parboiled), and almost all the spices. 

For local Indian brands, there are always Asian stores but the prices can sometimes make you do a double take – 22 DKK (or 267 INR) for Kashmiri chilli powder or 55 DKK (667 INR) for garam masala (400 g).  

Most Indians here would tell you they carried some spices in their baggage with them. But we also learned the hard way that these are best packed in your checked-in luggage and not your cabin baggage. The latter will definitely be seized at security and no amount of convincing will get it back!  

In better news, frozen vegetables are also easily available in all stores. Some even store veggies (a mix of corn, onion, capsicum and chickpeas) that are mixed with a tikka masala! These are pre-spiced and help reduce cooking time greatly. It’s a big win for novice chefs.  

Sometimes you might even find ready-to-eat chicken curry and fish curry meal boxes. The tortilla wraps available across all supermarkets are a good replacement for chapathi or roti and are definitely a lifesaver on time-strapped days 

With a part-time job, working 10-12 hours a week, we have been able to cover most food expenses.  

There are also many Indians in Aarhus and Facebook groups with them are brimming with many helpful tips. While we carried pressure cookers with us, those who didn’t could easily find it from someone in the Facebook group. To begin with, check out the groups named 'Indians in Aarhus' and 'Aarhus Internationals' to find more expats in the city. 

When you come to Denmark to study, you do realise you are miles away from home. But in a heartwarming twist, you also realise India really has made a mark here, and good food, and company, are not to difficult to find.