Bobby Chinn has seen enough of India to start narrating his memory of the country with the “early morning boring milk sales” that he was witness to. “I first visited India in 2007. I later returned in 2009 and subsequently in 2010. From fish markets to palace ruins, the more I learned, the more I realised that I have to continually return,” says Chinn, who visited the country while he was working on his show, World Café: Asia. Chinn also went around tasting the variety of food that Mumbai had to offer during his stays — from the Intercontinental at Marine Drive to old eateries like Britannia Restaurant at Ballard Estate. “I find the humility of food extraordinarily democratic. I had phenomenal meals in hotels, something I do not do in other countries,” he says.
Recalling how he was first introduced to Indian cuisine when he was young, the self-confessed fan says, “When I was a kid growing up in England, the school food was so horrendous that I discovered Indian cuisine. I find great comfort in Indian food as a result, from Punjabi dishes to the vegetarian thali served in north India to the curries in the south.” He adds, “I actually found Rajasthani food very rich, not spicy. I loved the kurma, the puris and the curries I ate on the streets there; the pickles and chutneys; and the countless sweets, which were richer and sweeter than anything I had ever eaten before.”
Over the last few months, the celebrity chef has been filming his next show, TLC’s Restaurant Bobby Chinn, which in six 30-minute-long parts that air every Wednesday this month, traces the setting up of his eatery in the city of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, which is where he is based. “It turned out to be a bit of a nightmare, to say the least. I wanted more than a restaurant; the idea was to change it from a dining room, to a lounge to an event venue. I was aiming very high to start off with and that vision was not easily executed, nor was it embraced by anyone,” he says.
Grapes rolled in goat’s cheese with pistachio crust
“This dish is simple. The juicy sweet grapes are offset by the saltiness of the creamy goat’s cheese with the pistachio nuts. These mouthfuls are fun to serve at cocktail parties and work well with red and white wine. For those who like serving fruit and cheese after a meal this is a good and unusual option,” says Bobby Chinn.
250 gm of soft goat’s cheese
300 gm red grapes, preferably seedless
180 gm pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
Twist off the grapes from their stalks. Don’t pull them, the skin tearing will result in them absorbing too much of the cheese.
Chill the grapes in a fridge.
Using a melon baller, or your fingers, scoop or roll the chilled goat’s cheese into 10 gm balls.
Press each cheese ball down in the palm of your hand.
Place the grape in the middle of the cheese, and with both hands, quickly roll the grape back and forth until the grape is fully coated with the goat cheese. You can prepare this dish up to this stage a day in advance.
Fill a large bowl with chopped pistachio nuts, throw in the cheese coated grapes and roll them in the chopped nuts until totally coated. It is easier if the cheese is a little soft. So you do not want to take these out from the fridge just before starting the rolling process. With a sharp knife, cut each in half and serve.