Culinary delights of Spain

Expert speak

Culinary delights of Spain

Master: Abhijit Saha

Food is a way of life in Spain. Friendships thrive, families bond and one’s working schedule is set around the meals of each day,” says Chef Abhijit Saha, who is an expert in European cuisine.

Having set up and successfully run several top notch European restaurants in five star hotels, he decided to focus on his favourite cuisine — Spanish.

“It is largely the people’s cuisine – down-to-earth, uncomplicated and  based on local ingredients. Yet the Spaniards are constantly innovating and experimenting with new techniques. They use a scientific cooking method known as molecular gastronomy to bring out exquisite flavours from traditional recipes.” 

So what best represents Spanish cuisine? “One can start with tapas, a wonderful Spanish culinary invention that has inspired thousands of bars and restaurants all over the world. Tapa means small plate. In the olden days, bar tenders would place complimentary appetisers on small plates over their patrons’ wine glasses to keep away the flies,” he explains but emphasises, “Tapas are not finger foods, but a small plated meal. They can vary from a piece of toasted bread, rubbed with garlic and dipped in olive oil, or a dish of olives. Slices of ham or salami, cheese, pieces of Spanish tortilla and marinated anchovies are also popular along with  meatballs in tomato sauce, garlic mushrooms, shrimp or cooked chorizo in wine.”

While traditional Spanish food is limited in the vegetarian section, Abhijit uses his skills to create flavourful veggie dishes to satisfy the most conservative palate.“A lot of vegetables are eaten in cooked dishes and soups. Spanish cuisine makes heavy use of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, beans and mushrooms. Gazpacho, a soup made with tomato, olive oil, garlic, cucumbers and croutons and served chilled is perfect for our climate and has become very popular,” he says. While Spanish food is served only in a few select restaurants in the City, the dishes are not alien to Indian cuisine and can be experiemnted with at home.

“Close to our biryani is Paella. It’s a vibrant  rice dish that marries the robust flavours of olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and pepper with short-grain rice, meat, fish, or vegetables,” says Abhijit adding, “the Spanish enjoy plenty of fresh fruit and cheese that they make from cows, goats or sheeps’ milk along with simple salads and sauted vegetables. It is a robust and flavourful cuisine and as the Spanish say to wish everyone a good meal, Buen provecho!”

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