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Easy on the lips and the hips

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Indian chefs need to come out of the kitchen and think more about their cuisine, if we are to go international, says Chef Michael Swamy

When you picture yourself feasting on Indian delicacies such as the curry-encrusted lamb and the Chinchoni fish curry, you would probably also ensure you have a comfortable bed close-by and a gym membership to work off the calories.

Don’t sweat it just yet. Gourmand award-winning Chef Michael Swamy came to the rescue showcasing how to make healthier versions of these calorie-heavy comfort foods in his ‘Culinary Masterclass’ last weekend at Fairfield by Marriott Bengaluru

“The masterclass was essentially about giving a healthy twist to regular food so you don’t have to change the flavours,” says Chef Michael, who has authored several books on Indian cuisine including The East Indian Kitchen and Easy Guide to Pairing Indian Food and Wine .

“So instead of cooking the meat and fish in oil, we showed how to bake the lamb and poach and steam the fish.”

The recipe also incorporates healthier grains (rather seeds) such as quinoa. Chef Michael conducted the workshop with Marriott’s executive chefs Aniket Das (head chef, Fairfield by Marriott Bengaluru, Rajaji Nagar) and Sudhir Nair (executive chef, Fairfield by Marriott Bengaluru, Outer Ring Road).

“The idea behind taking up comfort foods is that people are usually reluctant to try anything strange. It’s easier to make them want to try something new, if we work on the food they already make at home,” adds Chef Michael, who graduated from the Cordon Bleu Culinary School, London.

He has worked with several different styles of cooking from French to Indian, and Indian Progressive, leading restaurants such as The Bowl House and The Bombay Brasserie. He is now the Chef Patron at Nueva, a Latin American Restaurant in Delhi. He is also a food stylist and food consultant.

Technique, he says, is his signature because he believes it can easily be adapted to any cuisine.

“When you know your technique, it is much easier to adapt to a cuisine rather than working on it the other way around. What is important to remember is that your technique has to be consistent across dishes.”

Having said that, his personal favourites are French, Spanish and Portuguese influences on Indian cuisines extending from the much-loved vindaloo to the Indo-French styled soups of Puducherry. Yet, he says, Indian cuisine is yet to make a lasting impression on world cuisine.

“That will only happen when our chefs come out of the kitchen and start putting their minds onto Indian cuisine. Chefs usually only talk about the food, rather the experience or the health aspect of it. Audiences love masterclasses because they are able to meet and interact with the chefs, which they can’t do over dinner.”

Chef Michael’s vision is to make Indian cuisine international.

“The only way to do this is through such masterclasses, where people come to know more about Indian food, how to innovate on it and give it an international look and feel.”

 Source:  The Hindu

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