Pairings | Indian food
It’s sometimes hard to predict what type of food will pair well with riesling because they’re all so different - some being bone dry, some ultra sweet, some positively floral, others zingy and citrussy.
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*.
Asking what to drink with Indian food is a bit like asking what to drink with European food - it’s so incredibly varied - but there are pointers that should hopefully make the decision a bit easier.
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?
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.
Often compared to rose petals, lychees and Turkish delight, gewurztraminer is the wine world’s most exotic grape variety so what on earth do you pair with it?
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?
Of course it depends what type of IPA or India pale ale you're talking about. A relatively light style will lead you in a different direction from a huge, hoppy double IPA, but these I think would be my top five . . .
The British love affair with Indian food is longstanding but these three very personal books take our knowledge to another level. Ishita DasGupta takes a look at them.
Chef Shaun Kenworthy reports on what he believes to be a unique tasting of Indian wine and Indian cheese.
Is it possible to eat vegan food that’s as satisfying, sumptuous, and comforting as their meat-based counterparts? The growing popularity of vegan cuisine – particularly amongst non-vegans – has made the concept of “plant-based eating” enormously trendy, but not always easy. Monica Shaw has picked out six great vegan recipes that even carnivores will love.
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?
After a lively discussion about what to drink with curry on my #weekendwinematching slot it was good to discover a new angle on pairing wine with Indian food.
Deciding what to drink in an Indian restaurant if you don’t go for beer is always a bit of a challenge but now there’s a new option in the form of Sollasa, a delicious aperitif-type drink that has been created to go with Indian 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:
I don't always think of using fish in a curry but it takes such a short time to cook it makes a brilliantly quick meal.
Sometimes it’s worth revisiting your prejudices. I’ve never been a huge fan of gewürztraminer with Indian food although it’s an established pairing. It always seems to me slightly jarring, especially with tomato-based curry sauces. But this week I changed my mind.
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.
Last week I hosted a fabulous wine dinner at my local Indian restaurant Nutmeg in Bristol. We’d had the opportunity to have a run through beforehand and I was really happy with all the wines which were chosen in conjunction with their supplier Talking Wines.
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.
Generally of course dal wouldn’t be eaten on its own but with a curry or a biryani but given it makes a pretty good midweek dish on its own or with rice you might fancy a glass with it. Here are some options
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.
I've been lucky enough to eat my friend Romy Gill's food on many occasions - she's an inspired home cook - so it's great to finally see her recipes in print.
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
One of the most beautiful and original books that has been published recently is Romy Gill's On the Himalayan Trail which focusses on the food of Kashmir and Ladakh. Here's her recipe for lamb harissa which - surely a bonus for meateaters - is commonly garnished with a sheekh kebab. I also like the idea it's a brunch dish!
In our careless way we often refer to Indian food as ‘curry’ especially when talking about wine pairing but the base ingredient and the way it is cooked is just as important as in any other cuisine. And surprisingly the wine match can be quite obvious.
Although I’m not doing Dry January I am trying to take a break from booze on at least a couple of days a week so when I went to Romy Gill’s pop-up at Carousel last week I opted for the alcohol free options.
Riesling is often paired with Indian food though I don’t think it always works with hotter curries. But with this anglicized version of a dal from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new book Eat Better Forever it was spot on.
One of the most interesting cookbooks to come out in the past couple of years is James Whetlor's Goat - a book of recipes for using goat meat.
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.