Pairings | Indian food
Chef Shaun Kenworthy reports on what he believes to be a unique tasting of Indian wine and Indian cheese.
Of all the different aspects of wine and food matching I write about, wine and Indian food is the most controversial. What type of wine works best, and indeed whether you should drink wine at all is the subject of endlessly heated exchanges. The subject has recently come up again with the introduction of a number of wines that are specifically designed to go with spicy food. Was this, at last, the solution?
Among the many invitations I get to food and drink matching events a recent one to attend a dinner at the Bombay Brasserie in London where each course was paired with whisky sounded the most intriguing. But pairing a high strength spirit with spicy food was surely a recipe for disaster?
A lot of people still think that wine isn’t a good match with spicy food but our final session of What Food, What Wine? judging this week suggested that there’s no reason for winelovers to throw in the towel. The success (or otherwise) of the pairings did however depend on the heat of the curries and how ‘wet’ or dry they were.
It struck me as slightly ironic that the best example of a food offering I’ve seen at a consumer tasting recently was the Food Pairing Room at this weekend’s Whisky Show - whisky being the last drink that many people would think of pairing with food.
I’ve always thought of riesling as a better match for the fresh flavours of south-east Asian-inspired food than curry but a visit to the Lahore Kebab House proved otherwise this week.
What makes you want to go back to a restaurant? It may be because it’s convenient for where you live or work. The food certainly has to be good but I think the most important factor is the warmth of the welcome - whether you feel at home there.
To mark National Curry Week here's an article I wrote for Decanter a while back about Indian food and wine matching at the Cinnamon Club which still contains some useful advice about wine and spice pairing:
Given the immense popularity of gin the chances of you sitting in a bar downing a gin-based cocktail are pretty high. But at some point you're going to need something to eat so what kind of food can you pair with it?
I’ve been thinking a fair bit about red wine and Indian food lately - of which more in due course - but wanted to flag up one pairing from my trip to India last week which definitely worked.
If you’re wondering which wine to pair with curry, you’re not alone. There are probably more opinions about the matter than there are types of curry from “wine is never a good idea* to *any wine you like*.
I spent last week on the road in Ireland with wine importer Febvre hosting food and wine matching events for some of their restaurant customers. We covered a lot of ground from Enniskillen to Cork taking in Belfast, Galway and Dublin on the way and enjoyed a lot of amazing food matches.
One of the more successful pairings from the otherwise rather challenging sherry lunch I attended at the Cinnamon Club last week was a dish of tandoori salmon with a Valdespino Innocente fino. I tend to overlook fino in favour of manzanilla but I’m not sure it’s not a more flexible match with food.
Coincidentally I have had invitations to two Indian dinners in two weeks - one accompanied by beer and one with wine which makes for some interesting comparisons.
The more I taste authentic Indian food the less I think it causes problems for wine. A group of us cooked up a whole load of recipes on Saturday night including this savoury cake called handvo from Anjum Anand’s I love India.
I know a lot of you are going to be looking for a well-priced sparkling wine for Mother's Day this weekend and this is the perfect bottle
The widely held belief that wine doesn’t pair with curry has largely been dispelled with the new and more subtly spiced curries on the market. But what of really hot curries like a Vindaloo?
I’m always on the lookout for interesting alcohol-free drinks to pair with food so was pleased to see that Asma Khan had listed some really interesting options at her Darjeeling Express residency at The Sun and 13 Cantons pub in Soho the other day.
A cabernet would have been the last wine I would have thought of drinking with a curry but as happens from time to time you come across an unexpected wine match that really works.
In the run-up to National Curry Week TV chef Vivek Singh shares his favourite recipe for Old Delhi-style butter chicken from his enticing new book Spice at Home.