Posts Categorized: India

Indian wine whine

Wine with Indian food? Even seasoned food writers seem to think you can’t eat anything spicy – let’s call it curry – without an ice cold glass of lager. Certainly normal punters think it’s laughable. Last year in my mum’s Indian local, out of 150 curry munchers only myself and a blond hairdresser were spotted with a glass of wine, white dare I say. The problem in India is that wine is expensive. Actually that’s not the only problem – the industry is 20 years behind Australia and the local taste is in the dark ages preferring sweet wine and glitz. Now there’s no way I’m going to pay over $200 a bottle for Australian wine in Indian an over-priced hotel bar. I’m talking about Gold White, a blend of chardonnay, viognier and gewurztraminer with 24 carat gold flakes. I’m guessing part of the appeal is a snow dome type effect when you shake the bottle. Instead I chose a wine from a top local producer Grover Vineyards, a viognier clairette from the Nandi Hills with a manufacturing date of 11th February 2008. Being made in consultation with a Bordeaux oenologist Michel Rolland I thought the wine could be reasonable. But it was bloody awful. For a start it was the colour of a golden retriever (or quite possibly its pee). And the only reason to drink it with spicy food – some spicy kebabs – was the hide the taste. Jak refused to drink it but I, in desperation for an alcohol hit, drank it. In Kerala, however, I was introduced to Sula Vineyards’ chenin blanc. And I drank it again with spicy seafood in Mumbai. It is on the sweet side and fruity but that is what matches spicy foods best. It certainly wasn’t musty, as this writer found. But full of vibrancy.

Dosai, goats and not everything that you want to know about India

We’ve traveled and eaten from the Bay of Bengal on the east to the Arabian Sea on the west. We’ve encountered slow internet connections, outdated browsers and dodgy mice which is why I haven’t updated since Chennai (Madras), where we first tasted how fragrant Indian food can be when made with freshly ground local spices and plenty of curry leaves. There is so much I want to tell you but there is only one thing you sickos want to know through Facebook, emails and telephone calls: did I do a Dubai? Well I’m not going to answer that questions straight off. You’ll have to keep reading to find out. All I’ll say is that I’m back and have plenty to show and tell and I’m not talking about my underpants. I’d like to first tell you about the excellent coffee which is drunk more than chai in the south. There are the variations on chai, all tooth-achingly sweet, from delicately spiced masalas to brick red builders’ tea. We’ve seen human and animal suffering and smelt the stink of shit in the waterways surrounding rubbish-strewn shanty towns and real life slumdogs – but very few millonaires (although we saw the film in Bombay). We’ve also encountered sexily posed beach goats, families enjoying the beach as well as fractious European yoga types who aren’t quite that chilled when push, as it inevitably does, becomes shove in India. Until we reached Varkala in Kerala our days started with a mix of Dosai – a sort of Indian crepe served with coconut Chatni and a spicy sambar or sauce – and idli – a volumptious pillow of fermented rice formed in a soft cake which is steamed and also served with the same chutneys and sambal. We’ve eaten dosai from upmarket hotels to home stays and working men’s cafes where we caused some amusement. Each Dosai has its own character. The hotel – Raintree Chennai – served a small and delicate one served plain of masala (stuffed with spiced potatoes) and dipped delicately by hand in the chatnis and sambal. At working men’s cafes they were large and rustic and the sambal was dumped on top. We ripped pieces off and shoved them in our gobs. This is real south Indian food and probably as close as we got to eating it.