Spice girl books In­dian fans in for some fresh ap­pli­ca­tions

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Graeme Blun­dell

IN­DIAN sauce and spice en­tre­pre­neur Meena Pathak has been in­stru­men­tal in mak­ing chicken tikka masala the na­tional dish of Eng­land, sat­is­fy­ing an ar­cane Bri­tish wish for meat served in gravy.

Visit­ing Aus­tralia this week, she ad­vised your television critic turned sub­sti­tute Food De­tec­tive that she wants to do the same for us. This vi­va­cious spice girl tells De­tec­tive that Aus­tralia is ‘‘ half­way up the flavour lad­der’’ com­pared with her na­tive Eng­land, where In­dian food is still pre­ferred as the sta­ple cheap-and-cheer­ful late meal af­ter club­bing and many pints of lager.

‘‘ You are rungs ahead here and have al­ready over­come many bar­ri­ers. For­tu­nately, your weather is so good com­pared to ours in Eng­land that eat­ing cur­ries is not tra­di­tion­ally per­ceived as a dogged win­ter ac­tiv­ity,’’ she says. ‘‘ The big myth is that In­dian food is warm­ing and full of fat and heat.’’

As the driv­ing force be­hind the highly suc­cess­ful Patak’s food com­pany, Meena Pathak — the H in the fam­ily name ap­par­ently was dropped to make it eas­ier for the English to pro­nounce— is here to spread the word about her brand’s 50th an­niver­sary and to launch her third cook­book, MeenaPathakCel­e­bratesIn­dian Cook­ing (New Hol­land, $24.95).

Pathak, a for­mer model, along with hus­band Kirit, has cre­ated more than 120 curry pastes, cook­ing sauces and chut­neys, and the Patak brand is the mar­ket leader in Aus­tralian su­per­mar­kets. De­tec­tive, a mas­ter of the in­stant mari­nade, re­lies heav­ily on those jars of ko­rma, tan­doori, vin­daloo and balti pastes. Some of them sit, half-empty and still ap­petis­ing, over­crowd­ing the fridge, a source of dis­may to his neat wife but help­ing to feed the bub­bling stock­pot of grow­ing lo­cal in­ter­est in In­dian tucker.

‘‘ Mod­ern In­dian is light, healthy and quick,’’ Pathak in­sists. ‘‘ Wet curry with rice is the tra­di­tion, but the new cui­sine is about ap­pli­ca­tions, like pickle in a sand­wich or a side dish of roast pota­toes con­verted by a tikka paste.’’ Patak’s sells 30 mil­lion jars of curry sauce a year. Half of them, De­tec­tive’s wife says, are in our home. Good recipes at www.pataks.co.uk.

STILL on an In­dian theme, As­tral Restau­rant in Star City’s Ho­tel Tower at Pyr­mont in Syd­ney goes Bol­ly­wood next month with a nice In­dian twist. Head chef Sean Con­nolly will pair up with an­other mistress of spices, Chris­tine Man­field, to present a one-night din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on Tues­day, July 3. As part of the Burn the House Down se­ries of interactive din­ners, the chefs will cre­ate an In­dian ban­quet matched to wines se­lected by As­tral som­me­lier Peter Bell.

This is a rare op­por­tu­nity for fans to catch the peri­patetic Man­field (of Syd­ney Paramount and Lon­don East@West restau­rant fame) back in a kitchen. Can we look for­ward to her shak­ing a leg and swiv­el­ling her hips with bare-bel­lied Bol­ly­wood dancers and guest per­former Kamahl? Just don’t ex­pect mous­ta­chioed vil­lains, fam­ily mis­un­der­stand­ings and car chases. Tick­ets are $195: 1800 700 700.

CLASSY TV chef and restau­ra­teur Peter Evans’s Fish is the kind of show the LifeStyle Chan­nel does so well: laid-back and in­for­ma­tive, with easy-to-fol­low recipes and a cou­ple of en­gag­ing talk­ing heads who get stuck in with­out re­sort­ing to out­landish lad­dish knock­about.

Evans and his in­trepid brother-in-law Udo Edlinger ex­plore the wa­ters of Aus­tralia, catch­ing river, es­tu­ary, beach and ocean fish and, in com­pany with colour­ful lo­cals, cook­ing them.

De­tec­tive has an ad­vance copy of Evans’s book, also ti­tled Fish, which will be re­leased in Au­gust (Mur­doch Books, $34.95). It’s just as witty, in­for­ma­tive and la­conic. When you can get your hands on it, look for his recipes for snap­per pizza pie and blue swim­mer crab lin­guine. Evans also re­pro­duces the recipe for pearl meat with ginger and soy cooked up by Broome’s fa­mous for­mer diver Salty Dog Bail­lieu. In the opin­ion of De­tec­tive , who worked in Broome for sev­eral months in 2003, this is the only way to eat this truly na­tive Aussie prod­uct.

IN this age of cli­mate-change evan­ge­lism and de­nial, De­tec­tive was en­cour­aged to dis­cover, dur­ing a re­cent trip to Dayles­ford in coun­try Vic­to­ria, the Or­ganic Box Scheme de­vel­oped by Cap­tain Creek Farm, just out­side the vil­lage of Blampied. The farm grows cer­ti­fied or­ganic veg­eta­bles, fruit, wine and an­i­mal prod­ucts on 40ha and pro­vides a weekly sup­ply to cus­tomers in the re­gion, de­liv­ered to their doors or dropoff points. Re­turn­able boxes are a set price (a large box with 11 to 13 items is $30).

Lo­cal chef and tourism dy­namo Alla Wolf- Tasker of the Lake House at Dayles­ford highly rec­om­mends the scheme. She says she’s de­lighted with this fresh pro­duce, which has re­duced costs by min­imis­ing pack­ag­ing, cut­ting out mid­dle­men and dra­mat­i­cally re­duc­ing food kilo­me­tres.

‘‘ They still sur­prise me with what they turn up in that box and that ain’t easy to do,’’ she an­nounces with her cus­tom­ary ebul­lience. In­quiries for lo­cal or­ders: (03) 5345 7342; capck@big­pond.com.

De­tec­tive would like to know of other re­gional schemes pro­duc­ing and de­liv­er­ing af­ford­able or­ganic food.

FINDS of the week: Beeren­berg Farm, an es­sen­tial stop on a visit to South Aus­tralia’s Mt Lofty Ranges, pro­duces 48 won­der­fully rich condi­ments. De­tec­tive has just dis­cov­ered its chunky Worces­ter­shire sauce. Check the web­site for in­spired recipes, es­pe­cially the knock­out new Ja­panese-in­spired chicken yak­i­tori, sub­sti­tut­ing Worces­ter­shire for soy. www.beeren­berg.com.au.

The award-win­ning Murray’s Craft Brew­ing Co from the NSW north coast has upped the fight against bland in­dus­trial lagers by bot­tling three of its lov­ingly hand-crafted drops. There is Nir­vana Pale Ale, Sassy Bel­gian Blond and a lim­it­e­drelease An­niver­sary Ale. (‘‘a unique wheat and bar­ley brew’’, ac­cord­ing to the owner of the brew­ery, Murray Howe). www.mur­rays­brew­ingco.com.au.

DE­TEC­TIVE loves: The new culi­nary di­rec­tion at Melbourne’s Ho­tel Wind­sor with three new se­nior ap­point­ments and a repo­si­tion­ing of its sig­na­ture 111 Spring Street Restau­rant. Highly ex­pe­ri­enced ex­ec­u­tive chef Craig Hicks, ex­ec­u­tive pas­try chef Nigel Braithwaite and food and bev­er­age di­rec­tor Pa­trick Du­mas re­cently have been ap­pointed. But not all is chang­ing: the restau­rant will con­tinue with its tra­di­tional af­ter­noon teas, a Melbourne in­sti­tu­tion De­tec­tive of­ten en­joyed in the com­pany of visit­ing the­atri­cal sorts in his for­mer life as a pro­ducer.

DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: Wait­ers who turn up one mouth­ful into a course, ask­ing: ‘‘ How’s the food?’’ Once, ac­com­pa­ny­ing Clive James to an in­cred­i­bly at­ten­u­ated the­atri­cal adap­ta­tion of some David Malouf novel at the Ade­laide Fes­ti­val, De­tec­tive wit­nessed the theatre man­ager ac­cost James at the first in­ter­val (of many). ‘‘ How do you like it?’’ she asked. ‘‘ Don’t ever ask a critic what he thinks of a show while he’s still watch­ing it,’’ trum­peted James. ‘‘ Not if you want a good re­view.’’

Posh spice: Pathak

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.