‘Chefs Across Boundaries’ is a group of Chefs who set up challenges every month to encourage the participants to innovate, think out of the box and explore the culinary world.
This month, one of the Members Hetal Kamdar (http://hetalkamdar.blog.co.uk/) hosted the challenge and her theme was Pondicherry cuisine. The Union Territory of Pondicherry boasts of a sumptuous cuisine that shows strong French and Tamil influences.
Puducherry formerly known as Pondicherry is a small charming Union Territory on the east coast of India consisting of four small regions namely Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. Whereas Pondicherry and Karaikal is in Tamilnadu, Mahe is part of Kerala and Yanam is a part of Andhra Pradesh.
Franco-Pondicherry or Pondicherry cuisine, has been union territory’s best-kept secret. The flavors are mild and the fusion between the French and Tamil is what makes this cuisine unique and different from rest of India. There are plenty of options when it comes to this cuisine for vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians. Since it was a former French colony it’s not surprising that the cuisine is heavily influenced by the French way of life. Few typical French dishes have been adapted to suit taste buds used to spicier Indian food yet with minimum use of spices. Pondicherry is best known for its beaches, ashrams ,museums ,scuba diving and churches . The sea-food is very well known here and at the same time staples like idli, wadas and dosas are part of their day-to-day indulgence. Coconut makes its mark in a good number of dishes. As with French cuisine, accompaniments like onion soup, salad and bread are served with the meal.
Fusing the two proved quite a challenge as I had very little knowledge of both Tamil and French cuisine. After a lot of internet research and book readings i finally landed up picking the two exclusive dishes from both ends. Chettinad Fish Fry from the Tamil cuisine and Roasted Onion, Corns, Carrots and French Beans with Hollandaise Sauce.
The word “Chettinad” means a social caste specializing in the preparation of food. Consequently, the Chettinads are considered master chefs, and Chettinad cuisine is one of the most aromatic in India.
The Hollandaise Sauce is an emulsion of egg yolk and liquid butter, usually seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and a little white pepper or cayenne pepper. In appearance, it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy. The flavor is rich and buttery, with a mild tang added by an acidic component such as lemon juice, yet not so strong as to overpower mildly-flavored foods.
Hollandaise is one of the five sauces in the French haute cuisine mother sauce repertoire. It is so named because it was believed to have mimicked a Dutch sauce for the King of the Netherlands’ state visit to France. Hollandaise sauce is well known as a key ingredient of Eggs Benedict, and is often paired with vegetables such as steamed asparagus.
I have tried to keep the recipes simple and easy so that anyone can cook an international cuisine with ease and perfection. The fusion carries three major dishes and the recipes of each has been given one after the other.