From 22 to 24 March, the global food festival, *Taste of Mumbai, was held in Mumbai, India and Pierneef à La Motte’s Chef Chris Erasmus was invited to join a cast of Indian and international chefs cooking in the Taste of Mumbai Theatre. Celebrating a varied selection of international cuisine, drinks and restaurants, Taste of Mumbai offered the city’s most prestigious restaurants along with ‘guest’ restaurants from Delhi, Bangalore and New York serving sample-sized signature dishes to visitors.
A highlight of the festival was The Fisher Paykel Taste Theatre where culinary greats took to the stage to share their secrets and show off their skills with a plethora of pan rattling demonstrations. Chef Chris joined the theatre with top chefs such as Bill Marchetti of Spaghetti fame, Manu Chandra, Rajesh Radhakrishnan, Ritu Dalmia (who celebrated her birthday at Pierneef à La Motte last year), Nadia Lim (New Zealand MasterChef Winner 2011), Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti in New York and Vivek Singh of Cinnamon Club in London.
Bursting with inspiration, Chef Chris answered a few questions and shared his experiences and insights from this culinary journey.
Why do you think you were invited to Taste of Mumbai?
Taste of Mumbai wanted to focus on how spices are used all over the world. In South Africa and especially Cape Town that was established as the half-way station on the spice route, we use a lot of spices and they were interested to learn how we use spices in our cooking.
What did you cook for them?
Although it might seem like carrying coal to Newcastle… I cooked them a curry – a traditional Cape Winelands Cuisine curry. This beautiful sweet curry uses lamb, dried fruit and almonds, served with a “bokkom” roosterkoek (dumplings). (Bokkoms is dried fish, with a flavour similar to anchovies)
And what did they think of a South African curry?
The feedback was amazing! The Indian ladies especially loved the sweetness of our spices. Just like in South Africa, many people have a sweet tooth, but they don’t know how to usedried fruit in savoury dishes.
How much is wine a part of a meal in India?
At Taste of Mumbai, of course, wine played an important part, but in many areas of India wine is not yet an automatic choice when selecting a food partner. In general though, there is a real interest in and appreciation of wine.
Pierneef à La Motte is all about Cape Winelands Cuisine – did they understand the concept?
They were very interested in the story of how Cape Town was established for being a halfway stop on the Spice Route to India and how that lead to the development of the local cuisine of the Cape Winelands.
What was the highlight of your visit?
The street food.
The flavours are amazing and mind-boggling when you walk through the streets. And the wonderful tradition of families eating together in the streets. Around midnight, families gather in the streets to eat together and play cricket.
What did you learn?
Less is definitely more. They manage to pack flavour and taste into the most basic and simple dishes.
What did you bring back with you?
A new love: Marsala for breakfast! And a ceramic pot for Biryani.
What similarities did you find between Indian and traditional South African food?
Rice, meat and potatoes on the same plate! They use loads of vegetables and especially in Bombay, bread is a big favourite.
Did you manage to make friends?
It was amazing meeting chefs from all over and the people in general were so friendly. Organiser of the event and very well-known food writer, Karen Anand – I would call her the Abigail Donnelly of India – became a good friend.
*Taste Festivals have set a new benchmark for food and drink events worldwide. In 2012, there were 16 Taste Festivals across the world all based on the flagship event, Taste of London which has been recognised by TIME magazine as one of the world’s greatest food festival. Besides London, Taste Festivals excite, inspire and indulge over 300,000 passionate foodies across Amsterdam, Sydney, Melbourne, Milan, Dubai, Cape Town and more.
Visit www.tasteofmumbai.in for more details or follow twitter @tastemumbai and www.facebook.com/tastemumbai