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Chef Tej Bahadur from the Park Hyatt_ Goa visited Dubai

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					CHEF’S BITES TEJ BAHADUR

CHEF’S BITES TEJ BAHADUR

A taste of Goa
With food influences differing from region to region, Indian cuisine is a rich and flavoursome journey for the palate. BBC Good Food Middle East explores with Chef de Partie Tej Bahadur

Kathmandu street life

hef Tej Bahadur from the Park Hyatt, Goa visited Dubai recently to pass on his extensive knowledge of Goan cuisine to the staff of The Kitchen, Hyatt Regency Dubai. The chef ’s at the Hyatt Regency have mastered northern Indian cuisine, however the Hyatt Regency wished to extend their Indian menu to incorporate all things Goan, and as such, called on Bahadur to extend their chefs’ repertoire. “There is a very different way of preparing food in the north of India, and different ingredients are used too. North cuisine is based with tomato and onion gravy, but with Goan cuisine we use more coconut, coconut oil and palm vinegar, which are ingredients only found in Goa,” says Bahadur. Originally from Kolkata, Bahadur grew up learning the northern style of cooking of his region, and spent time in the kitchen with his family mastering the much-loved recipes. This early love for cooking was then developed further at the Meridien School of Hotel Management, and northIndian cuisine became “Palm vinegar is very Bahadur’s base from which important in Goan he learnt Indian cuisine cooking. We use the palm from further afield. Bahadur’s leap into vinegar when we ground cuisine of Goa began the dry chilli, cinnamon, when he joined the Park cloves, turmeric; the Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa in palm vinegar gives a April 2005, where he was distinctively Goan taste” taught the style, technique and use of ingredients that typifies this cuisine. Bahadur explains that it was difficult to adapt to the style of cooking, and the more he learnt the the more the differences between the regions became prominent. “Learning Goan cuisine was a very big challenge for me, as it is totally different to north Indian cuisine. There is a totally different culture, different food, different influences, and different ingredients involved depending on what is available in the area,” says Bahadur. As Goa is a coastal state, located on India’s west coast along the Arabian sea; sea food, coconut milk and palm vinegar are some of the ingredients that will be enjoyed in the dishes. With a tropical climate and the abundance of the Kokum fruit, the flavours are aromatic, intense and spicy. The Portuguese influence is very prominent in Goan cuisine, as Goa was under Portuguese colonial rule until 1965. In a typical Portuguese fashion, vinegar is used instead of lime or yoghurt, and Toddy, or palm vinegar is used as a base from which to season the food. “Palm vinegar is very important in Goan cooking. We use the palm vinegar when we ground the dry chilli, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric. Each vinegar will give the dish a different flavour, and the palm vinegar gives a distinctively Goan taste, and a different colour. We will often make a paste with the palm vinegar,” says Bahadur. Bahadur’s extensive knowledge of Indian cuisine has allowed him to be very creative with his dishes, inspiring new recipes and
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CHEF’S BITES TEJ BAHADUR
gastronomic ideas. Celebrated for his innovative recipes and zest for experimenting with aromas and flavours, Bahadur has ensured the Park Hyatt Goa’s Indian restaurant, Masala is a favourite amongst guests. “There is huge competition between restaurants in Goa, but this challenges us to move forward, looking towards new recipes and trying new flavour combinations. We go through all different things and we change the style and move forward. Goan food is already spicy, but with European guests, we might make it less spicy. So, we will listen to the guest’s comments and we work towards guest satisfaction,” says Bahadur. Through excellence in all Indian cuisine, including the Tandoori and Punjabi dishes of the north, and the palm-vinegar based pork, seafood and vegetarian dishes of the west and south, Bahadur was made Indian Chef de Partie of the Park Hyatt Goa earlier this year. Bahadur’s visit to Dubai was focused around passing on Goan recipes and preparation skills to the kitchen staff of the Hyatt Regency, and in passing on the authentic Goan cuisine, Bahadur hopes that more people in Dubai will get the chance to experience traditional cuisine from coastal India. When BBC Good Food Middle East asks Bahadur for an example of a traditional Goan dish, Bahadur describes his pork vindaloo without hesitation: “A typical Goan dish is the Pork Vindaloo and pork curry, the rich part of the pig, the ear, tongue and tail is used, and it is such a favourite in Goa. If you want something very Goan, it will be the pork curry, the rich parts of the pork. It is really good! Very traditional, if you ask the Goan people, they love it. We often have people asking for it in Goa,” he says. With the UAE as a Muslim country, Bahadur has not passed on his pork dishes to Dubai, however during his two weeks with the chefs from the Hyatt Regency Bahadur has passed on a number of seafood, vegetarian and beef recipes, as well as the skills to masterfully create the Goan cuisine. During Bahadur’s time in Dubai, guests were invited to the Hyatt Regency to sample some of Bahadur’s recipes, and the response was extremely positive: “Goan families flocked to the hotel this week and said that they really loved the food. They said; ‘Finally we have got really good Goan food in Dubai!’ There are many Goan people in Dubai, and so many guests came to the hotel this week especially for the Goan cuisine that we served,” says Bahadur. While there are many great Indian restaurants throughout the UAE, there are only a handful of truly Goan outlets. Bahadur shares two of his favourite Goan recipes with BBC Good Food Middle East, so we can experience the tastes of coastal India at home.
34 BBC Good Food Middle East September 2009

CHoICE GoAn dISHES FRoM CHEF TEj BAHAduR

Balchao de Camarao
SERvES 4 600g peeled shrimps ½ cup tiny roasted dried prawns, salt to taste 1 tsp turmeric powder 15 dried red chillies 2 small onions, finely chopped 20 cloves garlic, chopped 2 inches ginger, chopped 20 cloves 35 black peppercorns 1 cinnamon stick 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 tbsp tamarind 4 tbsp vinegar 1 tsp sugar 3 tbsp oil 1 tomato, finely chopped 1 Marinate the prawns in a mixture of salt and turmeric powder for 15 mins. 2 Grind the dried prawns to a fine powder. 3 Grind the red chillies, one onion, 10 garlic cloves, ginger, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, cumin and tamarind with vinegar, sugar and one teaspoon of salt. Add a little water and make a fine paste. 4 Heat oil in a frying pan and sauté the remaining garlic until light brown. 5 Add the remaining onion and sauté until it changes colour; add the tomato and cook until soft. 6 Add the ground spice paste and dried prawn powder, and cook for two minutes. 7 Add the marinated prawns and one cup of water, and cook until the gravy thickens. 8 Serve hot with rice or pao.

Arroz Refogado
SERvES 4

1 cup basmati rice 400g boneless chicken breasts 200g peeled prawns 100g squid, cut into rings 25 clams on the shell ½ cup olive oil 8 cloves garlic, chopped 1 large onion, chopped 1 large tomato, chopped 1 large bell pepper, chopped ½ tsp black pepper powder ½ tsp cinnamon powder 3 cups water or chicken stock ½ tsp saffron 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley salt to taste 1 Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces, heat the oil in a pan and fry the chicken for approximately five mins until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. 2 In the same pan, add the garlic, onion, tomato and bell pepper, and sauté until soft. Add the pepper and cinnamon powder and sauté for two mins. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil. 3 Add the saffron, parsley and rice, and cook for approximately ten minutes until the rice is half cooked. 4 Finally, add the prawns, squid, clams and salt, and cook until the rice is tender and the water has evaporated. 5 Serve hot.

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