Bland is the new spicy!

Experiment with it

Spiciness and tanginess is what Indian palate is really fond of. Certainly it defines the flavour of Indian food which makes it different from other world cuisines except the Mexican food for its sharp peppery flavour. No surprise that there is no space for bland food except when the tummy and colon are not in good health.

It’s not necessary that bland food has to be taken when you are ill. Any dish with fewer spices has its own flavour. And the only way to find out is to explore and experiment.

“In European cuisine there are many dishes which are done without major spices. These dishes are played around with fresh herbs, retaining original flavour of vegetable and meats,” says Piyush, corporate Chef of Schengen restaurant at Malcha Marg and Mia Bella in Hauz Khas Village.

“Each ingredient, be it vegetable or meat, has its own special aroma. I have made biryani without spices, not even used salt,” says Sandeep Singh, executive chef, Barrels, Vasant Vihar.

“Try boiling the basmati in coconut water, instead of normal water, you would not miss salt. Aromatic basmati with dry fruits and vegetables enhances the flavour of each ingredient which otherwise is diminished with regular spice usage,” he says.

Chef Sonu Negi of Smoked Biryani House too agrees that interesting dishes can be prepared without spices. “Indian cuisine does not include dishes with high spices but balanced spices. The best alternative is to add a sour and pungent flavour to the dish like fresh green chillies, garlic, sugar and vinegar. Some fine examples of such dishes are dokhla and Gujarati kadi.

While Chef Piyush hints at vegetable ratatouille. “There are so many dishes which are bland in flavour according to Indian palate but still taste good. Vegetable ratatouille is one of the dishes which are flavoured with fresh basil and no spices but still tastes good.”

Singh, however, believes Indian palate is changing and is more receptive to the continental and contemporary taste. “The art is in cooking and knowing which meat partners well with which stock and likewise for vegetables. It is a perfect lock and key match which complements the taste,” says Singh.

He gives a cool tip. “When making chicken, marinate the chicken in just lemon juice, chopped coriander, mint leaves and add a pinch of salt. You will not believe the heavenly taste of a spice-free chicken, which is healthier than never before,” adds Singh.

Interestingly, food plating and look plays a vital role in making a dish look different and attractive. “There are two ways of eating a dish – by tongue and by eyes. When the taste of the food is not controlled by spices, it is the colours that attract. Using a variety of colourful vegetables in cooking, roasting the meat to different progressive levels, brings varied aroma and taste, despite the lack of spices,” says Singh.

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