Mostly, foreigners are known for not having much fondness for spices, but a French chef says he has been using spices regularly since the time he started cooking and ever since he had his first ‘homemade Indian chai’ which had ginger, cardamom and cinnamon.
Sharing his journey from France to India, ace chef Gregory Bazire told IANS: “When I remember the first homemade chai we were having in Normandy, France, it was made with the Indian touch. We had brought it back from India during a precedent trip in 1999. The flavour of ginger, cardamom and other spices like cinnamon, star anise and pepper really made this milky tea a warm and shooting beverage during a rainy day.”
“Spices have always been my way of cooking since I was young, because of curiosity, because of the flavour elevation it procures to a dish. (So) It is a natural process for me to integrate and understand them in my interpretation while cooking,” he added.
Bazire, who owns restaurants and also has a keen interest in organic food and yoga, is currently associated with Mumbai-based cafe Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House that has launched its monsoon menu.
Bazire says it was the option to play with spices that fascinated him.
“What challenged and has exited me in the Taj Mahal Tea House project was to create this emphasis between tea and food, controlling spices’ flavour while creating new chai and teas, breathing inspiration composed from freedom, local history and vision.”
The chef has a speciality of combining French techniques with Indian flavours in order to create what he calls ‘Indo-French cuisine’.
He believes the process of cooking is driven by a “desire to meet some product, flirt with historical food references and the wish of discovering new mix of flavour”.
Bazire finds the Indian food scene has evolved so much in the last five years that he has witnessed the emergence of a lot of new trends and particularly on the development of organic foods, which he says is a very good sign.
“Indian cuisine tends to get modernised while keeping its own desi flavour. This trend spread internationally in countries like US, Britain and Canada which have seen a lot of new Indian food concepts from sandwicheries to high end restaurants.”
He also feels that Indian local beverages are “playing a very dynamic role in the food industry” as “a lot of desi flavour have been re-introduced in the market, especially on tea with an explosion of new offer in retail and outlet concept”.
(Nivedita can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)