Chef Das Interview - Part 3
Posted on 1st October 2014
In our final instalment of our interview with Chef Das, we explore how Britain has influenced the traditional Indian food on Chakra's menu. Das tell me “At Chakra, we acknowledge how Britain has a special affinity with Indian food, and we strive to provide the most authentic high quality food to satisfy the British interest in Indian cuisine.”
He continues to explain the historic nature of the connection between British and Indian food:
“The notion of multiculturalism began with the Empire, when the British lived in India and learned of the unique and highly skilled style of cookery, involving tandoors, spices and marinades. They brought back home the knowledge and taste for Indian cuisine, and so began the demand for imports of spices so the flavours of India could be recreated in Britain. It is a shame that today, many people believe that Indian food is just a madras and a beer as there is so much more to Indian cookery! That is why, along with our menu being an education in itself we always make the effort to explain to our guests what our food is about and where it comes from.”
Das continues in this vein saying how wine is to be drunk with Indian food, not beer:
“It is like continental and English food; you often pair full bodied reds with rich dark meats and dryer white wines with more delicately flavoured white meats. Obviously, as with other cuisines it is more complex than that, but it is important to pair the food and drink correctly. In Indian food it is even more important as there are so many layers and much depth to our food that need to be emphasized by the drink which accompanies it. Of course, alcohol isn't the only thing to drink with Indian food, and many people prefer to drink Lassi, a traditional yoghurt based drink, designed to cool and cleanse the palette after the heat and spice of an Indian meal.”
As well as Lassi, there is the less well known section of Indian desserts which evolved to cool the palate in much the same way as the yogurt based drink. At Chakra, Das has included such regional specialities such as Mishti Doi a Benagli speciality made from sweet yoghurt served with spiced caramelised fruit, and Gulab Jamun, traditional Indian sweet dumplings with vanilla ice cream.
Working at Chakra Das also enjoys the opportunity of being able to perfect and develop English desserts, such as our Apple Sponge Pudding served with a delicate elderflower mouse, which he feels ends a meal at Chakra as perfectly as the Indian deserts.
Further to developing English desserts Das enjoys the variation afforded to him due to Local English produce and seasonal changes. Rather than constraining the Chakra menu, Das feels invigorated in his culinary developments, with our menus changing every 6 months in keeping with seasonal availability. Moreover, Das has spent time marrying traditional complex combinations of Indian spices with English meats such as veal, quail and venison, resulting in unique expertly crafted dishes, with a clear sense of Chakra passion and style, something Das embodies.
Thus concludes our 3-part interview with Chef Das, we hope you enjoyed it and got a better glimpse into the man at the heart of Chakra.