Sunday, August 13, 2017

Colonial Anglo-Indian food to celebrate Independence day at J W Marriott Aerocity

We are always awestruck by the variety we have in our country in terms of food and produce, whenever we chance upon something new in a far corner of the country or even sometimes in our own backyard. The foreign cultures have influenced the cuisines of India and have added more layers of flavours on them, each one worth exploring whenever you get a chance.

So when I got to know that Bridget White Kumar is in town to curate a colonial Anglo-Indian menu at K3, the all day dining restaurant of J W Marriott Aerocity I decided to go and meet her as I have been following her work for quite some time. Bridget has authored 7 books on the subject of Anglo-Indian cuisine and has been helping many hotels and clubs to create special menus around the cuisine. 
She has been sharing recipes on her blog as well, a really warm and affectionate person I must add.
Bridget White Kumar and Chef Vivek Bhatt

Chef Vivek Bhatt has collaborated with Bridget to bring Anglo Indian food to the capital for the first time, to celebrate Independence day week, and his team has done a wonderful job of recreating the fusion of flavours beautifully. I was there for lunch yesterday sharing the table with Bridget, Rohit Sharma, Nikhil Nair and Chef Bhatt and we ended up discussing the present day politics and how we have performed (not) as a country in the last seven decades of being free of foreign rule. We decided anonymously that Dak Bungalow Chicken comes to comfort in such a scenario as none of us are keen to join politics to bring any of the changes we want in the leadership. 
Food is a great tranquilizer, or equalizer too. Let's go to the table.

The Anglo-Indian food is served in a beautifully laid out buffet, the menu changes everyday for lunch and dinner but a few signature dishes are constant. I loved that the menu has not been made too extensive with dozens of dishes, one can taste and savour every single dish and come back with the flavours still teasing the memory of the palate.

The starters appeared to have jumped out of a high tea party of a memsahib, all wonderfully made. The Mushroom scramble on toast, the Lamb mince chop (Bengali style) and the Panthras were delectable, though not my kind of food, the husband would have taken several helpings of these I know. I had my eyes firmly focused on the main course that looked like homely comfort so I took care not to fill myself up with the starters. 

Anglo Indian food at K3, J W Marriott Aerocity
The Kedgree needs a special mention as this was the first time I was tasting an authentic kedgree, though I have mentioned it on this blog earlier. This was made of mung dal and rice, cooked perfectly so each grain was separate yet cooked well, the taste and the texture reminded me of a similar dish I have had at an Oriya friend’s place but I have forgotten the name of the dish as it has been almost 15 years to that dinner. I wonder if there is a connection between the two. The usual garnish of boiled eggs was missing as the kedgree was to be made suitable for vegetarians too, you won’t miss any garnish because there are much more flavourful food to devour. 
Check my main course plate here on Instagram

I have had many versions of the Dak Bungalow Chicken but the one served at this festival was so light and flavourful with a thin yogurt based gravy that it will be the benchmark from now. The Lamb Country Captain, the Pork Devil Fry and the Prawn Temperado were a delight to discover. 

Each one had its own identity in terms of flavours and appearance, the Lamb Country Captain felt like a light homely curry we make at home, the Pork Devil fry had green capsicum and garlic flavours, the Prawn Temperado with a pleasant caramelised onions and tomato flavour and a hint of tartness to balance.
A special mention to the Okra in Butter and Garlic, the vegetarian main course that I loved so much that I tried to recreate the dish today. I knew it was something the husband would love and I was right, this recipe is going to be repeated frequently all through the bhindi season. More about this in the next post. 

The desserts were the classic Trifle and a Roli Poli pudding which is a steamed jam cake so light you can easily over eat. Better take a small proration and eat small bits of it, take your time to finish if you are sensible or save some space for desserts. 

More than the food, it was a delight to meet Bridget in person. I have been connected with her on social media for a long time but was meeting her for the first time in person. She has done a lot of work in discovering and preserving the family recipes and she has been doing it ever since she took voluntary retirement from her banking career. She found her mother’s and grandmother’s recipes hand written and filed along with knitting and embroidery patterns and revived all of those classics meticulously converting the weights and measures as most of the recipes written by the women had measures written in the form of a housewife’s manual, 2 anna’s coriander leaves and 3 anna’s onion must have been difficult to convert to grams and tablespoons. Anna was a unit of currency during British period.

I admire Bridget to have done such wonderful work of documenting the recipes and bringing the flavours to us, each fusion and progression in the history of cuisine is an important link with the older history as well as the changing times I believe. Food reflects the society at so many levels, each recipe brings a new story sometimes. 
Bridget is here for just one week so go soon and discover these stories and flavours. You would love to meet the humble and cheerful lady behind this food too. 

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