Food, the fun way
Long gone are the days when diners went only for the trusted and the tasted traditional food. The norm now is, go experimental
VARIETY ON A PLATTER Food courts' success lies in offering multiple options in cuisine PHOTO: T.A. HAFEEZ
If variety is the spice of life, then there is plenty of spice in Indian metropolises. Be it fashion or food, people are no longer happy with the tried and the trusted. They want to look beyond. And increasing disposable incomes come in handy as the burgeoning middle class ventures out, changing market trends.
With changing income, expectations have changed in almost all fields, be it the automobile, garments, home furnishings or even food preferences. Indeed, the food industry is no exception. Variety is indeed the mantra here. Otherwise, how do you explain the success of all the food courts? Food courts have a lot of variety to offer under one roof, just what a diner wants today. You take the `variety' factor out today and food courts will become an endangered species!
Earlier, diners only wanted dal makhni, malai kofta, tandoori chicken and shahi paneer. Not so any more. The family outings do not limit themselves to traditional fare any more. The diners are more experimental. They want more choice and want innovative dining concepts.They are constantly moving to the places which have all these to offer. And that is very noticeable in the restaurants, which have a variety to offer.
This variety may be taking the form of foreign cuisine here, an exotic food festival there, but it is still different from the run-of-the-mill stuff most of us have grown up with. Pastas, shawermas, donar kababs, Peking duck, tempuras, sushis, sashimis are some of the names that were probably unheard those days. They are proven crowd pullers now.
Almost 30 or 40 years ago, when the food and restaurant industry in India was still in a nascent stage, food-experience used to be only all about traditional dishes such as mutton roganjosh, dal makhni, a few varieties of naan, some shorbas and a few types of biryanis, etc. But just look at the menu now. There is a sea of possibilities. Variety, did one say, is the spice of life? Well, it is the name of the game now.
So, more and more people are departing from tradition, happy to accept change, happy to different cuisines on their dining table.
Let's share a creative recipe here, something that is in tune with `something new, somedifferent' mantra:
Pasta crumbed stuffed paneer buttons
Time for preparation: 25 minutes
250 gm paneer (cottage cheese)
1 cup vermicelli, crushed
3 tbsp fine flour
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
Oil to fry
3 tbsp lemon pickle mince
Cut the paneer pieces into fingers of 3/4 inch X 3/4 inch X 2 inch. Cut a slit in them, just like the chilly slit, for the stuffing. Force-fill the lemon pickle in those slits but make sure not to overdo it.
Take a mixing bowl and mix, salt with the fine flour and add just enough water so that a smooth running batter is formed.
Dip the stuffed paneer fingers in the batter, ensuring that they are evenly coated. Spread the crushed vermicelli on a clean surface and roll the paneer fingers on it, one at a time. Press the rolled on vermicelli firmly on the paneer fingers.
Heat oil in a kadhai. Deep-fry the paneer fingers till they turn golden brown. Remove and place them on the grease-proof paper. Serve hot garnished with decorations of your choice. It goes best with garlic and yogurt dip, though it tastes great with tomato chilly salsa too.
(The author is Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza.
He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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