Venerated as a patrician tipple from the West, Whiskey had long shared a quintessential bond with the Maharajas and societal elites of the Indian sub-continent. Today, it survives as a motif of bygone aristocracy for the rich, as a good old friend for the middle class, and lastly, as an uncharted ambition for the poor. Each individual entity of this diverse social strata perceive Whiskey with their very own inhibitions; inhibitions, which are as diverse as the nation’s cultures and customs. And it’s no surprise that it is this impeccable mix of assorted lifestyles and ethos that has given birth to a remarkable range of native Indian cuisines which surprisingly pair up pretty well with whiskey.
There’s no denying that Whiskey screams meat – and if it’s Indian cuisine to the rescue then nothing serves better than tandoori kebabs. The rich smoky hints of the charcoal-blazed tandoor effortlessly complement the strong peaty notes of heavy malts. But then, what if the preferences tend to go beyond meat on a search for something that’s more on the greener side? Or, something that’s completely vegetarian?
Indian cuisine hosts a plethora of vegan dishes, which are savory, sweet, salty and smoky enough to complement the rich oaky flavors of Whiskey. To start off, there are stir fries like cauliflower florets and corn-and-peas rolls glazed with peanut and chili sauce which cuts through the creamy base of bourbon whiskies leaving behind a spicy trail that lasts long. If you still crave for something tangy, then consider assorted vegetables dipped in tamarind sauce or button mushrooms stirred with green chili paste. All of this should serve as a boon for all those vegetarians who believe that they are destined to munch on peanuts and potato chips while nursing a fine scotch.
As you start getting deeper within the subtle flavor nuances of the main dishes, you’ll be surely be spoilt for choice. A heavily seasoned platter of aloo (potato) tikkas prove so invigorating, when paired up with whiskey that even hardcore non-vegetarians cannot refuse it. Alternatively, the piquant south Indian cuisine boasting dishes like cholam keerai, masial kakarikai vedapu and beans paruppu usili teams up well with peaty and smoky whiskies like Paul John Classic Select Cask which leads with notes of barley and fruits, keeping a tinge of spiciness hidden within its layers. The state of Gujarat in Western India, presents an exemplary assortment of vegetarian dishes that will surely persuade you to reconsider your penchant for meat, when it comes to pairing food with Whiskey. Spiced potato with chickpeas and tikki chana chaat are some of the dishes that make a perfect match for single malt scotch whiskies with soft and flat notes like The Glenlivet 12-year old.
Whiskey and native Indian vegetarian cuisine may not be a match made in heaven, but they will surely make up for a brunch worth savoring. After all, a hearty booze calls for some good food, and if it’s not meat, then let it be some delectable vegan flavors from India.
Katherine, she called herself. Katherine Hepburn. And it was she, being her delectable sassy, fearless self, who once winced, “What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.” Katherine was, indeed, a work in chocolate. If you know, or of Katherine, and if you have ever had the euphoria of eating chocolate, you’d definitely stutter in your step.
Typically, a whisky connoisseur is a man of habits. He sits with a glass of Jim Bean after a heartwarming dinner, sharing a weekend round with equally discerning peers – or relishing a solitary moment with his single-malt and bedroom slippers.
Fortunately, Eastern customs are turning this picture upside down.