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Does Indian Cuisine Need To Be So Hot - Chefs Debate

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Spicy Indian foodCurrently, Indian cuisine in Britain outnumbers those of any other culinary style and chicken tikka masala is famed to be the country's favorite dish. 


While there is quite a bit of hullabaloo about the validity of this and other British-Indian staple dishes such as mutton vindaloo, it hasn't influenced the growing appreciation of top Indian restaurants by the British culinary establishment. The latest U.K. Michelin Guide honored a total of five stars to Indian restaurants in London, ranking them second after French establishments, tied with Italian.


Spicy Indian foodCurrently, Indian cuisine in Britain outnumbers those of any other culinary style and chicken tikka masala is famed to be the country's favorite dish. 


While there is quite a bit of hullabaloo about the validity of this and other British-Indian staple dishes such as mutton vindaloo, it hasn't influenced the growing appreciation of top Indian restaurants by the British culinary establishment. The latest U.K. Michelin Guide honored a total of five stars to Indian restaurants in London, ranking them second after French establishments, tied with Italian.


A recent article by Vir Sanghvi, India's most influential food critic, in the Hindustan Times's Brunch magazine stated that the top Indian chefs in London are failing to remember what Indian food and flavors should be like. "To some extent what is happening in New Delhi and Bombay is mimicking Western presentation, but they are keeping the flavors more or less intact, whereas in London, they are merely appealing to Western sensibilities."


According to modern Indian chefs outside of India, Indian cuisine does not need to be so hot. They feel the true flavor of the meat or vegetable being cooked is more enhanced when not overpowered with chilies. To quote Atul Kochhar, the owner of ‘Benares’, London’s top Indian restaurant, "Indian cooks end up killing the birds and animals they serve twice—firstly, when they are slaughtered and secondly, when they cook them. They need to wake up and learn how meat should be treated and then how to cook it with respect."


Benares, which is located in the heart of Mayfair, serves outstanding Indian dishes, such as a tandoor grilled salmon with yogurt, paprika, mustard and lime leaf, and lamb cutlets with ginger, turmeric and peppercorns. There is no deficiency of customary spices, but they do not blister the back of your throat.


 


Mr. Bhatia, owner of restaurant ‘Rasoi’ believes that the chief difficulty faced by India is the quality of the produce. To quote Mr. Bhatia, "That is why they use heavy spices because the produce is not of very good quality," he says. "When you have exceptionally good fish or meat, you want it to sing on its own, not be cloaked by heavy spices." The dishes at his Chelsea restaurant, such as a mushroom-encrusted chicken, have a meticulousness more related with French haute cuisine than conventional Indian cooking. Mr. Sanghvi, the critic, admits that spices can obscure a product's original taste. "


 


Perhaps chefs in India will soon take to the western trend of letting the taste of the meat/vegetable speak for itself and heat in the Indian cuisine will be a thing of the past.


 


Image credit - ifood.tv

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