The fine dining Indian restaurant, Nawab Saheb, at the Renaissance Mumbai Hotel and Convention Center celebrated the month of love in a very unique manner with the Kamasutra Food Festival, writes Suneeta Sodhi Kanga. From 14th to 21st February, Chef Bhairav Singh, Master Indian Chef created the choicest, authentic Indian food preparations inspired by the ancient texts. Adding to the romance were heady wines from the Nandi hills. Right: Nawab Saheb restaurant
Winemaker Karishma Grover, representing the third generation in the family business, came down personally to pair her lovely wines from Grover Vineyards.
The Nawab Saheb was decorated to represent a traditional look to match the exotic meal which was served in clay pots and earthenware crockery and the food relished without the use of cutlery. Taste and touch – a heady combination.
Left: A bottle of Grover’s La Reserve
The Kamasutra, besides being an ancient scripture on love and pleasure, is of historical relevance as it also carries secrets about the usage of different ingredients. According to this revered and world-renowned text, food plays an important role in keeping the body, mind and spirit invigorated. There are seven secret or key ingredients – Garlic, Dry Dates, Honey, Chillies, Almonds, Saffron and Spices – that play an important role and have been further interpreted and used by Indian professional cooks or khansamas and bawarchis across the world.
Says Chef Bhairav Singh, “These ingredients work on your body in different ways: garlic improves blood circulation, onion keeps your body cool, chillies increase iron levels. For them to be effective, they have to be eaten or cooked in a particular way so that their flavours do not get overpowered by others.
When asked what factors had been kept in mind while pairing her wines with the Indian fare that evening, Karishma said, “Honestly, while tasting the food, I thought about my enjoyment of the wine and food pairing. This is really key in pairing wine with food.
“With Indian food, because of the spices (the food at KS was delightfully aromatic, more than usual Indian fare), I also try to pair the spices in the food with the flavours in the wine. But it really boils down to a truly enjoyable experience!” Karishma concluded.
From the salad to the dessert, I indulged in a meal that had been created keeping in mind age-old tradition and custom. The tempting menu for the festival comprised of set meals in three categories viz. Vegetarian, Non-Vegetarian and Seafood. I began this interesting interpretation meal with a welcome drink, Grover Vineyards’ Nandi Hills India Sauvignon Blanc. The wine has a pleasant refreshing mouth-feel and shows intense floral and grapefruit aromas with a hint of guava and dried fruits that adds complexity. The crisp acidity enhances the lingering taste of a well-structured wine.
This was followed by Grover Vineyards Nandi hills India Viognier which matched perfectly with the honey marinated Dates and Chilli annas ki chaat. The Viognier has a pleasant refreshing and rich mouth feel with intense aromas of peach, apricot and tropical fruits complemented by floral notes and a hint of honey. It was a good paired with the spicy Indian cuisine.
For the main course, I could choose from a wide array of delectable dishes like Daura e tafreeh (Lobster marinated with fresh garlic and black pepper cooked in charcoal). Grover Vineyards Nandi Hills India Rose Shiraz was well paired with the Lobster. It has delicate aromas of rose with wonderful flavours of cherry and strawberry jam. Well-structured and dry, it could also be a perfect aperitif and perfectly complements delicate Indian cuisine.
Left: Chef Bhairva Singh
Paya Masala (Lamb trotters simmered overnight on charcoal with the chef’s special spices), Lasooni Seekh (skewered mixture of fresh garlic and saffron finished in charcoal) and Shabnam ke moti (Spinach and cumin marinated stuffed fresh mushroom with cottage cheese, chilli finished with mustard and charcoal) was served next which I thoroughly enjoyed with the Grover Vineyards Nandi Hills India Cabernet Shiraz. This Shiraz has intense aromas of black current and raspberry with a hint of spiciness. It matched perfectly with roasted meats and the tandoor preparations.
Nail ki Nazakat (Chef’s special lamb shanks curry smoked with black pepper) was reserved for Grover Vineyards La Réserve Nandi Hills India . La Réserve is created with passion and reverence for tradition. It is produced from a hand-picked selection of Cabernet Sauvignon. Matured six months in French oak barrels, the wine gains in structure and complexity and has a powerful bouquet of luscious ripe red and black fruits with an exquisite hint of spice. It combines grace and splendour on the palate with chocolate, coffee beans and vanilla flavours. The finish is long, ample and almost magical.
Karishma was in a fix when I asked which of these was her favourite wine, “This is like asking me to choose between my siblings!!! But I do like the Viognier and the Rosé. Please note that these answers usually depend on how I am feeling at the point when I answer, because I can walk away and an hour later feel like, “No,no, the Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernet Shiraz are my favourites! So really the answer to this will be: the Art Collection and the La Reserve!”
When asked if she would like to share a personal wine story, Karishma said, “At University, we once decided to get together the students studying Food Science and the winemakers to do a wine and cheese pairing. However, the group conducted this in a way I had never encountered before. All of the cheese was served to us, and all the wine. We were allowed to experiment with what pairings worked for us, which resulted in lots of loud and heated arguments, but a thoroughly unforgettable experience. It has really changed the way I look at wine and food pairing!
The Sharabi Paan (Betel leaves stuffed with semolina saffron pudding with Gulkand and Rum) added a sweet end to this amazing food experience.