The fascinating alchemy that India presents in its artistic and cultural traditions is well-known and to many it will come as no surprise that it also finds expression in the many cuisines of India. Some of the country’s most loved culinary traditions are the outcome of a melding of indigenous traditions and external influences that came by way of trade, exploration or military conquest.
The Mughals for instance ushered in the use of aromatic spices and an era of elaborate cooking rituals in assembling, finishing and garnishing. The Portugese introduced the use of vegetables like tomato, capsicum, potato and chilli which were largely alien to Indian cooking. These ingredients and styles were inventively integrated into the body of mainstream cooking.
With the increased pace of international migration in recent decades, keepers of mainstream cuisine in one culture have shifted closer to the cuisines of other traditions – a move dictated as much by necessity as by trend. Higher orders of culinary interactions are becoming inevitable today and in my judgement, this development has thrown up the opportunity for the most ethereal of all pairings – the pairing of Indian food with spirits.
Now to many, Indian food is descriptive enough to stand on its own and while most may not have reservations about bringing on the beer or even whisky with the most ebullient of Indian cuisine, wine often gives rise to some reservations.
I understand this – the pairing of food and wine is always a delicate proposition and certainly new territory for Indian cuisine. In this post I want to talk about the pairing of some classic wines with a selection of vintage Indian cuisine exemplified by the cuisine available at K&K, ITC Hotels exclusive Indian restaurant. With the Ultimate Dinner format, K&K does guests the honour of directing the dinner through the ideal sequence of course selections and drink pairings. I would be using the Ultimate Dinner to give you a peek into the wine pairings for each course.
Let us first consider the kababs offering at K&K. Pudina paneer tikka which consists of cottage cheese cubes marinated in mango and mint chutney will blend well with a Sauvignon Blanc Cloudy Bay, a pedigree white wine with mild notes of gooseberry, green pepper and elderflower. In fact, this well-balanced wine will pair well with a range of kebab dishes including tandoori jhinga (grilled jumbo prawns), murgh angaar (grilled chicken), mahi shagufta(bekti fish coated with gram flour and cooked on a stove) and murgh khurchan(tandoori chicken tossed with select spices).
Progressing to the kurries, the selection includes the mewa makhana ka qorma – puffed lotus seeds cooked in an onion and yoghurt gravy, kehkashan – a melange of vegetables and corn cooked in pomegranate gravy, dal bukhara – a blend of lentils, tomatoes, ginger and garlic, burhani gosht (lamb cooked on the bone) andmahi mirch ka quorma (bekti simmered in pine nut yoghurt gravy). This clear play of stronger flavours in the curries line-up demands a more versatile wine and the supple Pinot Noir Green Point 2007 is equal to the challenge.
Moving to the biryani, the spread offers shahi qubooli – a mix of vegetables and basmati rice, mirch baigan ka salan – eggplant simmered in a peanut and coconut gravy and dum pukht biryani – basmati rice simmered with lamb and spices. The Bouvet Rubis Demi-Sec – Sparkling Red with its cherry notes and violet overtones makes an ideal companion for this course of the meal.
Guests may round off their meal with any of the sweet dishes on offer which include the kulfi, gulab jamun and yaquti with which the white German dessert wine, Deinhard Beerenauslese with its apricot and honey aromas, sits well.
We invite you try an Ultimate Dinner with wine at K&K to appreciate the finer points of pairing heritage cuisine and the world’s finest spirits.