A taste of Asia
Gulshan Kumar, executive chef, The Orchid Hotel Pune, Balewadi, tells us about the recently held The Flavours of Asia Food Festival and how more and more Indians are enjoying exotic cuisines
Diverse, colourful and vibrant, the beauty of the Asian continent is unparalleled. And so its delectable cuisine where each region has a unique gastronomic delight to offer. To celebrate the cooking and food from various Asian regions, The Orchid Hotel Pune, Balewadi, had recently organised a food festival titled The Flavours of Asia. Gulshan Kumar, executive chef at the hotel, who attempted to bring the flavours of Asia under one roof through the festival said, “The festival covered the three regions of Asia South-west (India, Pakistan, etc), North-east (China, Korea, Japan, etc) and South-east Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesian, Malaysia, etc). The festival also offered delectable fare from Middle-east Asia as well.”
Although the highlight of the festival was Middle-eastern Asia and Thailand, it also offered signature dishes from Indian states.
That said, Asia is vast and diverse, so it is difficult to serve everything at a single food festival. The chef, who has been in the food industry for about 13 years and specialises in Indian and Oriental cuisines, said, “Asia has a rich and vast culinary heritage making it difficult for us to serve everything from all the cuisines. So, we picked dishes, which are a special delicacy of the region. Besides authentic Indian cuisines, varieties of noodles and gravies like Thai Green Curry, Chinese starters, Baba Ghanoush and Falafel from the Middle East, Sushi and Tempura from Japan, Nasi Goreng from Indonesia, and so on were served at live counters and at the table on request.”
The chef, along with his team which specialises in Thai and Chinese cuisines, prepared all the dishes at the festival. We asked him if Indians now enjoy authentic Asian food and he said, “Nowadays, apart from authentic Indian food people love to savour world cuisine, especially Thai and Chinese. We created an interesting fusion where customers who enjoy Indian as well as other Asian flavours could savour the dishes. We are open to creating customised dishes for our customers.”
Talking about the difference between Indian cooking style and the ones followed in countries like China and other Asian nations, the chef says, “The basic difference is that Indian cuisine is all about the spices and slow cooking because we tend to make gravy for most of our dishes which takes time and requires masalas for aroma and flavour. However, Chinese or Asian cuisine involves instant frying and abundant use of raw vegetables. In Asian cooking style, except dishes like Momos and Dim Sums, there is hardly any concept of slow cooking,” says Kumar.
Chef Gulshan Kumar shares the recipe of Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian dish which has stir-fried rice and is spiced up with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), shallot, garlic, ground shrimp paste, tamarind and chilli, and accompanied by other ingredients, particularly egg, chicken and prawns.
• Long grain white rice (basmati rice can also be used).... 2 cups
• Beaten eggs.... .2
• Sesame oil... . 2 tsp
• Salt... 1/2 tsp
• Boneless chicken (cut into strips).. ....230 gm
• Vegetable oil... .2 tbsp
• Medium-sized onion (finely chopped). ..1
• Ginger root (finely chopped).... 2 tsp
• Dried shrimp paste... 1 tbsp
• Black pepper (fresh ground). ....1/2 tsp
• Chilli bean sauce.. .1 tbsp
• Dark soy sauce... .1 tbsp
• Oyster sauce.... .1 tbsp
• Boil the rice, combine sesame oil and put it aside.
• Heat a wok, add oil and wait until it starts slightly smoking.
• Add onion, ginger, shrimp paste, garlic and pepper and stir fry for 2 minutes.
• Then add chicken and shrimp and stir fry for 2 minutes.
• Now add chilli bean sauce, oyster, dark soy, and stir fry for 2 minutes.
• Now add egg mixture and stir fry for a minute.
• Put the cooked ingredients upside down in a serving platter and garnish with fried egg, spring onion and fresh cilantro.