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Guten Appetit

Celebrated chef, Maurice De Boer, decodes German food at Taj Mahal Hotel’s Shamiana, reports Vidhi Bhargava.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2008 12:41 IST
Vidhi Bhargava.

Chef Maurice De Boer has a striking presence, booming voice and is completely in love with food. He’s not originally German though. This Dutch-born chef found love in the country — his wife and German cuisine.

A champion of German cuisine, Boer is the chef owner of Ratskeller restaurant in Aachen, Germany. Most German cities have Ratskeller, a restaurant or tavern in the basement of a city hall that showcases authentic German food.

Deutsch dinner
Chef Boer is in Mumbai for Deutschfest at Taj Mahal Hotel’s Shamiana. The week-long festival that kick-started on September 22 is on till September 28. The festival takes in a buffet lunch and a la carte dinner.

The timing of the festival seems perfect as it coincides with the Oktoberfest, which is currently on in Munich. Boer says, “Though the festival is immensely popular, it is just one part of Germany’s food and drink culture.”

He continues, “Each region in the country has its own specialties. The festival is a round-up of different regions, from Black Forest ham, white sausages from Bavaria and sauerbraten from Rhineland to Nürnberg sausages.”

While he tries hard to present the authentic German flavour, he describes the menu as a “combination of the traditional and contemporary Deutsch dishes.”

German cooking is about regional and seasonal produce. What we cook in our houses depends on the ingredients available in the region and season. Like spring is the time for spargel or white asparagus and winters for sauerkraut or sour cabbage. Some other typically German foods include sausages or wurst, cold cuts, potatoes or kartoffel and apple struddle.

Meat lovers inc.
German cuisine is primarily meat-centric with emphasis on beef and lamb but vegetarians have choices too.

Even though chicken does not find a place on the menu, the grilled perch (fish) on a bed of potatoes and a creamy sauce is a good choice, The tenderloin with crusted pumpernickel rye bread is also delicious.

Boer brings with him sweet mustard and apple vinegar as well as a couple of chefs from Aachen. He hopes to take back some ingredients from India.

For starters his daily breakfast of ham and cheese has made way for dosas, which he calls Indian pancakes. Bhajiyas and biryanis are his other favourites on his first visit to the city, which will lead to many more.