Platter chatter

Updated: Sep 19 2003, 05:30am hrs
Jiggs Kalra hardly needs an introduction. The genial gourmet has been serving up tempting combos of Indian cuisine and culture for close to three decades now. Starting off as a restaurant columnist, Mr Kalra has subsequently worn many hats: hes a menu planner, consultant to hotels and restaurants, organiser of Indian food festivals, TV show presenter, and best-selling author. PARUL MALHOTRA catches up with the food genie and draws him out on matters of the platter.

Theres always...

...dal makhani, butter chicken, and butter naan. You find an Indian restaurant brave enough to skip this lot, drop BB and King Kalra a line!

Grub of the future
Anything spicy is sure to be a hit, he says. Thaill probably be replaced by Sri Lankan. He also expects Asean food (from Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia) to make an entry into India. Incidentally, these cuisines owe much of their flavour to our very own Chettiars, the intrepid bankers of yore, who took to the region their masalas alongwith with pots of money!

Desi all the way
North Indiall soon discover that grub from down south is much more than dosa, idli and vada. Mr Kalras moneys on the curries of the South. Theyre pure, with none of that kaju, badaam paste, he snorts, though I still havent figured out why a curry from Tamil Nadu or Kerala lacks aroma. But what I do know is that because they dont use their strengths the condiments from Malabar south Indian food hasnt made it big abroad, explains the Menu Doc.

BBQ magic
North-to-South traffic will constitute Moghaliya food, particularly barbeques. (note the etymological twist here its not Mughlai, for crying out loud.) In the spirit of true discovery, the South can do with a platterful of Moghaliya khaana from Agra, Awadh, Benaras and Jaunpur. Of course, thatll be the day when daal makhani will not be made like sambhar, or as Mr Kalra puts it, machchi Amritsari will vie for a place on the platter with the kaane. Amen!

To eat or not to eat
Bengali khaana sends the food guru into raptures Its superlative. I would give an arm and a leg for a kobiraji cutlet, he beams. One slight problem though: Where are the Bengali eateries outside of Bengal Food for thought for budding Bengali restaurateurs

Forget selling Goan in the north the regions way too finicky about its fish. They really need to get rid of those old wives tales of theirs, he grimaces. And dont count on French and Mediterranean restaurants mushrooming all over the place because these cuisines are too bland for most of India to relish!

Tip from the maestro
Fusions for music. Try it in the kitchen and youll be in a soup! Stay away from that and focus, instead, on maintaining purity of the food.