Tasting India: What do culinary experts talk about at dinner?
While you weren't paying attention, some of the most celebrated food personalities from all over the world came together for a panel and some delicious dinner conversation in the city. The Tasting India Symposium hosted one of their incredibly curated panels which united some of the most important names in food movement to talk about new discoveries in India's global footprints.
The panel which was held at the American Center saw names like Colleen Taylor Sen (author of Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India, which traces Upanishads and Puranas to Mughal and Raj-era food to present-day progressive Indian food), Pritha Sen (food historian who has become something of an authority on many aspects of Bengali food and culture), Kaveri Ponnapa of The Coorg Table, Ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison who is also Tasting India Symposium's Honorary Executive Director, Sanjoo Malhotra, co-founder of Tasting India Symposium, and executive director of India Unlimited above.
ITC Royal Bengal hosted the panelists for an exquisite dinner at Grand Market Pavilion to showcase some of the most breathtaking homegrown delicacies from North East and Bengal. "We are delighted to showcase some indigenous flavours from North East India as well as selected culinary delights of Bengal to the eminent panelists of Tasting India Symposium, a platform promoting understanding of India's culinary heritage and diversity on the principles of sustainability and social responsibility. This is in keeping with ITC Hotels' ethos of Responsible Luxury," Tejinder Singh, Area Manager East ITC Hotels & Cluster General Manager ITC Royal Bengal tells us.
We were lucky enough to be at the dinner for some black sesame Naga pork and Shya Phalay, and if you've ever wondered what the topmost culinay experts talk about at the dinner table, you're about to find out:
Indian food journalism began with Madhur Jaffrey in BBC: Sanjoo Malhotra
"Her show was so global it was aired across all Indian cities which is rare, that's what really showed us how food journalism should look like!"
Cooking is dying out: Kaveri Ponappa
The food scene is thriving, yes. But with this boom in restaurant culture, cooking for self is just not here anymore. Cooking at home is one of the most intimate things you can do, but most people don't want to cook after working all day. This is also why cloud kitchens are on the rise, in Bangalore especially where I'm based. But I do have an issue with the way most of these kitchens operate, it's not a totally sustainable system.
What's the best phuchka in Kolkata?
Oh, it's in Vivekananda Park!
There's also this couple in South Kolkata, right outside Dakshinapan. Everyone talks about them.
You'd never see a Bangalore resaurant this bustling at this hour on a weekday: Kaveri Ponappa
I can't believe there are so many people here right now, it's 10:30 pm. Bangalore has a pubbing culture sure, people go out to drink and eat and stay out late. But that's not the case with fine dining, Kolkata has a different energy when it comes to dining culture, it's more dyanamic.
I once tried putting gulab jamun in a cheesecake: Ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison
Back at home in US, I once tried using mascapone in a cheesecake and I couldn't find anything to be the proper filler. I needed a different texture, because there would just be this crater and it wouldn't sit. So I just got some store-bought gulab jamuns and I used that as a topping, and it worked out so great!
Indian food needs more traction: Sanjoo Malhotra
This was why we started Tasting India Symposium, Indian food needed to reach out to people. People only knew about yoga! But Indian food is so diverse and this is something both Sourish (Bhattacharyya, co-founder Tasting India Symposiums) and I agreed on. The symposiums have helped us connect on a broader level.
Over the years, we have been bringing culinary tour groups into India, hosting Indian cookery classes in Stockholm to let people explore the cuisine. In fact in 2013, in association with the Embassy of India in Sweden, CII and Incredible India, I organised the business and cultural event, India Unlimited, to market India. It's about promoting the diversity that exists in Indian cuisine. This Sikkimese Kauri (whole wheat shell) soup for instance, is so nuanced, it can change the perception of Indian food forever.
For us it's always been about celebrating the culture in its entirelty, along with agricultual aspects and sustainable ways to make the cuisine more conscious. It didn't make sense to have someone talk to a group of people. Many people like chefs, historians, change-makers, innovators, critics had to come together to discuss how a cuisine could be made more accessible.