By Syeda Amtul
Food is a reflection of any culture, as people from various cultural backgrounds eat different types. When people think of Indian food, generally they think it is spicy, hot, oily and rich, despite the fact that it includes a range of healthy spices, due to which the dishes are cooked in a multitude of ways that help retain their nutrients.
Each part of the country, even cities or villages use different methods of preparation, different ingredients and preservation techniques. In array of colorful mouth-watering cuisine displayed in a four-day Indian Food Festival at Elaf Jeddah Hotel recently, one could really enjoy the different versions of Indian cuisine.
Famous cuisine from Kashmir like Fish Tikka, Chiken Hazrwi Tikka, South Indian dishes Idli, Dosa, Wada, Appum; Maharashtrian dishes like Vada pau and different kind of Chutneys, rich Lukhnawi cuisine like Bhuna gosh, Jhinga mehrunnisa, Yakni Biryani along with some vegetables like palak mushroom, Paneer and desserts among many more were served in the fest.
The festival, which is organized by Consulate General of India, Jeddah and India Tourism Development Corporation in association with Elaf Jeddah Hotel hosted three leading Indian chefs who created delicious dishes in association with the Elaf kitchen. Chef Vikas Anand, Mehboob Alam and Grish Kumar are presently working at the Ashok Hotel in New Delhi, India.
Chef Vikas Anand who is an expert in Kashmiri food, a senior chef of the Ashoka hotel Delhi and has been attached to the hotel for a very long time, explained how Indian culinary arts can adapt to and are easy to modify according to taste and requirement.
“Eating out was a rare thing in the past, but time has changed now and so has our taste. Nowadays the awareness and health conscious communities have given a boom to this industry. Mostly people want to eat healthy food so we provide them with a range of less spicy, less oily variety of Indian cuisine,” he said. According to him spice levels of all dishes are kept at a minimum level, as their usual visitors are very health conscious.
Mehboob Alam another chef from Lucknow who prepared Yaknee biryani, Roghan josh for the fest said “I brought all spices with me from India, I am an expert in rich Mughlai Lucknawi cuisine and it can also prepared with healthy way. Mostly Lucknawi cuisine has a rich aroma which has a positive effect on health”.
When asked about how they select a few dishes with such a wide range of dishes available, he said they made a selection from the dishes they can make using the available resources on the basis of feedback received over several buffet parties.
Talking about his specialty in Kashmiri cuisine the chef mentioned Tabaq Mas, Gushtaba and Rista which Gushtaba is made from fresh mutton minced with spices, shaped into balls and cooked in a flavorful yogurt gravy while Tabaq are fried marinated mutton ribs.
Grish kumar who is a master chef with excellent skills in Indian curries and South Indian dishes said: “South Indian dishes can rank number one in health grounds, it has very less oily, less spices and lots of veggies whichdoctors recommend to their patients”. He added: “Generally vegetarian food anywhere else in the world is quite dull and uninteresting, nothing more than boiled vegetables at the most. But in India, vegetarian food opens up an unbelievable culinary wonderland.”
The four stations highlighted the diversity of India, with the Lucknowi base providing the taste of the north, while the other three highlighting Maharashtra. Deccan and South stations took you down on a food trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.