This month, two city hotels will take your through a culinary tour of the world. JW Marriott and Novotel in Juhu are both launching extended food festivals, highlighting little-explored culinary countries like Germany, Spain and Greece. We asked the chefs to take us on a tasting tour of the countries for your dining pleasure.
According to executive sous chef Higmanshu Taneja, the tiny Mediterranean country has probably the most enviably healthy food in the entire belt, despite being grossly under-represented in India. “They eat lots of vegetables and meat and also prefer the mezze style of eating where the food is served cold,” he says. The most unique item on his Greek menu is Avgolemono soup, made up of a hardy broth stuffed with vegetables and chicken and thickened with egg. “The Greeks are also known for feta cheese, which appears in almost 70 per cent of their food. It’s usually eaten with kalamata olives and mixed into fresh Greek salads,” Taneja adds.
Slice of Spain
Both Taneja and Chef Dharmesh Dodia of Novotel agree that the Spanish cuisine, which prominently features on both hotels’ menus, is picking up in India. “Spanish cuisine is hardly known in Mumbai because we don’t have any dedicated restaurant serving that kind of food,” says Dodia.
He adds that the different cultural groups that exist within the country, paired with the variegated geographical regions, result in a truly colourful cuisine. “They have a strong focus on seafood and eat everything from shrimp and halibut to octopus. They also love their sausages which are called chorizos,” Dodia explains. Taneja adds that the Iberico ham from the Iberian peninsula is the most unique variety in the world. “It is also the most expensive ham in the world and is sold ay R 11,000 for a kg.” He recommends dining on a slice of Iberico ham with the country’s famous Marcona almonds accompanied by a sip of red wine.
According to Dodia, the Germans are hardy meat-eaters and love their chicken, beef and pork. “The food is rather heavy. You can usually only eat it in small quantities, and of course, always paired with a stout German ale,” he recommends.
His dish of choice, which will also appear on the menu, is the bread herb dumplings with mushroom cream ragout and mixed vegetables. “They also eat a lot of potatoes in every form, fried, roasted or boiled. It’s their most important side dish.” He also recommends trying the Sauerbraten, a preparation of beef which apparently requires 76 hours of cooking time after being marinated.