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Chicken Tikka: Is it from India or Pakistan?

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Image source: youtube.com

Dubai, UAE: Food has the power to bring enemies together and this time, it’s the lip-smacking appetizer, the chicken tikka, that has managed to bind neighbors India and Pakistan together in Dubai.

The chicken tikka has managed to bind neighbors India and Pakistan together in Dubai.

Mohit Bhargava from India and Shamoun Bhatti from Pakistan, chefs at Dubai’s seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel, say they “work like brothers” and love to serve the best of their countries’ delicacies to their consumers who don’t inquire about the recipes’ nationality.

For its authentic Arabic cuisine or Far East Asian or Modern European dishes, the hotel sources ingredients from across the globe, says 34-year-old Bhatti from Karachi.

“Some of the spices and herbs come from India and Pakistan, as we don’t find them here. You will be amazed to know that many people term Pakistani dishes as Indian food here and I feel proud. I don’t think chicken tikka has any nationality. You wonder if it is from India or Pakistan? I feel it’s chicken tikka, that’s it,” he said.

The Bab al Yam restaurant in the hotel, where he showed some of the food items prepared by him, has a contemporary and sophisticated concept with floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning views, breathtaking spacious terrace and plush shisha (hookah) lounges.

“I think it’s not the people but the governments that are making a hue and cry. There are so many politicians and all of them have their own reason for hating each other. Even in the recent Pathankot episode, Indians and Pakistanis were blaming each other. I feel this type of thing creates bad relations,” says Bhatti.

While he shifted to Dubai 10 years back for work, 32-year-old Bhargava, who hails from Lucknow, moved to the United Arab Emirates city with his wife two and a half years back.

“We work like brothers and it’s always good to have someone around who understands your language,” said the chef while giving a pat on the shoulder of his Pakistani counterpart.

Mohit Bhargava from India and Shamoun Bhatti from Pakistan, chefs at Dubai’s seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel, say they “work like brothers” and love to serve the best of their countries’ delicacies to their consumers who don’t inquire about the recipes’ nationality. Image source: littleindia.com
Mohit Bhargava from India and Shamoun Bhatti from Pakistan, chefs at Dubai’s seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel, say they “work like brothers”
and love to serve the best of their countries’ delicacies to their consumers who don’t inquire
about the recipes’ nationality. Image source: littleindia.com

He also pointed out how Dubai has opened up for Indians, especially in the food sector.

“It’s a home away from home. People love Indian food here, especially chicken tikka masala that has become universal. Some of the other dishes in demand are lamb rogan josh, biryani and, of course, masala dosa,” he said, pointing out how Indian restaurants are doing well in Dubai.

“There are many local restaurants which are coming in. Moti Mahal and Raaga are here. We also have a new restaurant in Taj. There is one at Shereton by chef Vikas Khanna called Junoon, then we have chef Vineet Bahl’s restaurant Indego. So, you have a large choice where you want to dine,” he said.

The distinctive sail-shaped silhouette of Burj Al Arab is more than just a stunning hotel, it is a symbol of modern Dubai.

Repeatedly voted the world’s most luxurious hotel, the magnificent destination offers people the finest service and facilities throughout — right down to an optional chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.

Not surprisingly, it’s the hot spot for all the Bollywood, Hollywood and other A-list celebrities.

It boasts of serving celebrities like Hollywood actor Vin Diesel during the shooting of “Furious 7” in Dubai, southern star Mahesh Babu with his family and tennis legend Roger Federer.

Bhargava recalls one customer: “There is one Russian lady who is very regular here and she always asks me about Indian food. She has a liking for different cuisines.”

Niamh Keohan, director of marketing and PR for Burj Al Arab, said hiring an Indian and a Pakistani together was not a “well planned strategy” but people are very open to all the “spicy foods” that India is known for.

(The article was first published in Little India)

  • Akanksha Sharma

    It doesn’t matter where it came from. It is one of the tastiest dishes.

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Diversity in cuisines is good for development, says a chef

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British chef, Adam Simmonds, says adopting varieties in cuisines is for the betterment for the country
Diversity in cuisines is good for development, says a chef. wikimedia commons

New Delhi, Dec 28, 2017: Chinese, Indian and Spanish dishes are welcomed with open arms in the UK, says British chef Adam Simmonds, who also believes that having a diverse cuisine is good for the development of a country.

Asked which cuisine is most popular in London, Simmonds told IANS here: “It has become so diverse now. In London, it is so multicultural. There are so many amazing Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Spanish cuisines available. They are just growing massively. The UK as a whole, and not just London, has some of the best cooking in the world for sure.”

“It is only enhancing the UK as a Mecca for food. Every country needs to develop and to have different cuisines… the whole thing is brilliant,” he added.

The owner of The Test Kitchen, which is a pop-up located in Soho, London, was here for the launch of Gurugram-based delivery-cum-dine-in kitchen concept — The Trial. It is a blend of chefs, entrepreneurs and innovative food concepts.

“What I am trying to do back home is to try to bring interaction from the restaurant into the kitchen. There are no barriers. It’s about engaging the customer more within the cooking,” he said.

And that’s what he is trying to do at The Trial.

“There are three types of chefs here. If the concept fits, one of us will work on it,” said the chef, who enjoys cooking Scandinavian food.

“It is a concept that I believe in. So, I thought it was a great project to be involved with. Indians are travelling more. They go abroad a lot. They like the style of food; so why can’t something like that work in this country?”

After his maiden visit to India earlier this month, he hopes to return to the country soon and learn more about the indigenous spices.

“I would like to learn how to work with spices properly and to understand it. In my next trip, I would like to see some grassroot stuff to help me understand more about the culture and food,” said the chef, who has been to The Maldives, Denmark, France, Spain and Netherlands.

Simmonds believes there is a “skill-set” in cooking .

And there’s a “great skill level in cooking fish” which is why he likes to prepare dishes with fish as the star ingredient.

He is also a fan of food that is very light and not too robust.

“With the lightness, you get to know all the flavours. If there are just two to three items on the plate, you can showcase your skill set. You can’t hide behind the flavours. It’s about making it clean and vibrant,” said the former head chef of Ynyshir Hall, which won a Michelin Star in 2006.

But it’s not easy being a chef.

“There are long working hours, it’s stressful and you are criticised. You are constantly judged on each and every dish. People think they know more. It is quite difficult sometimes, but you have to accept it,” said Simmonds.

“If you do crack it and enjoy it, it’s the best industry to be in,” he added. (IANS)