Stein spices up search in India
RICK Stein is a renowned chef, but even he was aware there were gaps in his culinary knowledge. For three months, he travelled the Indian subcontinent in search of the perfect curry, discovering an array of taste sensations on his journey.
Stein was accompanied by a camera crew that documented his Indian odyssey. The result, Rick Stein’s India, is a six-part series that treats all the senses, not only the tastebuds. Stein speaks about his experiences. Rick, you spent time in India before making this series but this was your first time visiting in a professional capacity, right?
I’d been going there with my family for about 20 years but I’d never filmed there before. Great Britain is addicted to curries – just about anybody I know, even from when they were little, always liked going for a curry, so when I thought about doing a program in India I thought it would be well received. There’s a general feeling that we don’t have the curries like they have in India, and I think that’s the case in Australia too. A lot of the Indian restaurants in Britain and Australia are staffed by Bangladeshis rather than Indians, so we haven’t had true Indian curries. Exploring a nation’s cuisine is a big ask, I imagine – there must be a lot of diversity from region to region.
The task was so enormous I was only going to scratch the surface. But I was able to establish certain particularities about curries in certain parts of India, and I was able to go after the ones the British are most familiar with and find really good versions of them. The other thing I was able to do was discuss with various Indians what is meant by curry – while we tend to use it to describe all kinds of Indian dishes, it’s not a word that really exists in India. Are there basic fundamentals to making a proper curry? It is a dish that can incorporate all manner of different ingredients.
I did discover that. One of the purposes of the program was to demystify curry in a way because a lot of people tend to feel overwhelmed by the number of ingredients, so I had to point out that making a curry is very straightforward and follows certain principles.
– GUY DAVIS
Rick Stein’s India: Monday, 8.30pm, ABC1.