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Tried and tasted: Spanish tapas is the newest food trend and you can try it at this Delhi restaurant

Tapas means to cover, or is a word for a lid. Legend has it that tapas came to being because Spanish bars used to serve the drinks with a lid on top of a glass – possibly to keep out the flies. Soon the bar-owners started putting some food – mostly a piece of cheese or ham or olives -- on the lid to woo customers.

more lifestyle Updated: Aug 06, 2018 13:53 IST
Rahul Verma
Rahul Verma
Hindustan Times
Tried and Tasted,Tapas,Spanish Food
Prawns al ajillo at Sevilla.(HT file)

I have a friend, who can’t have a drink in the evening unless it comes with a plate of peanuts with onions and minced garlic on the side. He is quite a master when it comes to mixing the peanuts. He puts the ingredients together and then squeezes some lime juice over them. Once seasoned, he takes a spoonful of the mix and pops it into the mouth before taking a swig. Clearly, that’s like nirvana to him.

People have their own choice of finger food when it comes to drinks. The nibbles come in a wide range – from the absolutely basic pinch of salt to elegant tapas, which are small Spanish starters that are served with drinks. I have eaten some delicious tapas over the years, and quite a few were rustled up by the chefs at Sevilla, the Spanish restaurant at The Claridges Hotel. Some consisted of small pieces of goat cheese and olives, while some were elegant preparations of Iberian ham and foie gras.

Tapas means to cover, or is a word for a lid. Legend has it that tapas came to being because Spanish bars used to serve the drinks with a lid on top of a glass – possibly to keep out the flies. Soon the bar-owners started putting some food – mostly a piece of cheese or ham or olives -- on the lid to woo customers. And the customers were happy because it meant they could line their stomach while having their drinks.

Sevilla has a wide variety of tapas – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. You can bite into a chilli garlic mushroom with baked brie or spear a grilled asparagus, served with green garlic and tomato salsa. They have small charcoal grilled lamb chops with honey garlic aioli, chickpea and chorizo stew with potato chips, or bacon wrapped dates stuffed with manchego, a variety of cheese originally made in the La Mancha region.

Anything – served in small quantities -- can lead to a tapa. These are dishes that the Indian palate should enjoy. Strangely, there are not enough restaurants serving Spanish food in the metros. You have everything else – from Italian and Vietnamese to Japanese and even Armenian – but hardly any which serve only Spanish. And that’s odd because some of the top chefs in the world are from Spain.

A chef at Sevilla shows us how to make the perfect Prawns al ajillo. (HT File)

But The Claridges’ corporate chef S Tarun Dacha hopes to focus more on Spanish cuisine now. He tells me the menu will include various kinds of Spanish dishes, including, of course, a wide range of tapas.

I find that chefs like to be innovative in preparing tapas. I have earlier had at Sevilla sherry pickled salmon, a smoked halibut slice with a cucumber egg salsa, a sliced chorizo salami and melon wrapped in a roll of ham. Among the exotic tapas that come to mind are thinly slices salted whole cod or bacalao bianco, brushed with virgin olive oil and presented with cubes of salmorejo -– tomato puree frozen with the help of liquid nitrogen — and smoked eel, presented with foie gras and green apple.

Tapas are like Indian snacks – there is something for everybody. Just choose your favourite tapa and pop it into the mouth. And you’ll hear the sounds of a thousand Flamenco guitars in the air.

RECIPE: Prawns al ajillo (Prawns with garlic)

Ingredients

80g of peeled prawns

30ml extra virgin olive oil

15g garlic flakes

5g chilli flakes

3g Spanish paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic flakes and the chilli. Once the garlic is slightly golden, add prawns and stir cook for two minutes. Add the paprika and the salt and pepper. Stir for a few minutes and then serve. (I like to squeeze some lime juice over the prawns – gives it a nice kick.)

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First Published: Aug 06, 2018 13:52 IST