Fresh from the sea

Updated: Apr 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
The demands of cosmopolitanism make themselves felt in various places, not the least of which is food. With an exponential increase in the number of international visitors to Delhi in recent years, this number has increased hugely.

Seafood is getting more and more popular, says Ravindra Kumar, chef at Hotel Intercontinental, The Grand. And there are various reasons for it. Not the least of which is the bird flu, which has forced this chicken-mad city to look for options. So popular was the live crab section at a recently concluded seafood festival in the hotel that they have had to continue with the live crab section.

Bird flu may have helped, says Tejinder Singh, F&B manager, ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel, but seafood had been increasing in popularity for a while now. Most chefs are in agreement that a combination of factors has helped rising incomes, more global travels by Indians, exposing them to international cuisines, of which seafood is a big part, and more visitors to India, again spurring the demand for global food. Developing taste and more is a trend today, says Chef Amit Kumar executive sous chef, Radisson MBD Hotel.

Delhi is now a hot destination, says Dhiraj Arora, managing director, Mahima Hospitality, which runs popular restaurants like Hotel Qutabs Laid Back Waters, which specialises in seafood. The clients know what they want, and they want quality, for which they are ready to pay through their noses, he stresses. Agrees Bakshish Dean, executive chef, Park Hotel, who has had several seafood promotions at his hotel, successfully.

A long-standing problem of adequate supply also looks to have resolved itself, with most eateries now with an assured supplier in tow. Chef Thomas Fedivc of Shangri La says regular supply from south India as well as South- East Asia provides a range of seafood. Now, even the variety is getting better and we have crustaceans like oysters, crabs, prawns, lobsters as well as fish like salmon, pomfret, sea bass and many others on our menu, he adds. Arora adds to the list by mentioning trout, sole, cod, tuna, kalamari and karimeen as popular choices besides crustaceans.

Traditional notions about seafood are disappearing too. Smell is no longer a factor, and live counters are today the in thing at most eateries. The clientele opting for live crabs is niche, says Kumar.

Health is another big factor in the popularity among an increasingly calorie-counting clientele. The fat content in sea food is considered healthier, says Rajdeep, Kapoor, executive sous chef, Hotel Intercontinental, Nehru Place. Shellfish has no cholesterol, but no one eats them in large quantities, he says. Almost all chefs agree.

And the success of sushi and sashimi has made sea food popular party serving snack. Whatever be the reasons, get experimental and try out octopus curry. Or will you just settle for some tandoori jhingha