In her recently released book, Tasting India, top Australian chef Christine Manfield invites us to journey through India tracing the food, spices and culture of the amazing country. Cook your way through more than 250 recipes for traditional and contemporary Indian dishes and plan your travels using the extensive directory of recommended places to stay, eat and shop. GCM chats with Christine about her love of India.
What do you love about cooking Indian food?
The diversity of flavours, the regional variations, and the spice. Also, the extraordinary repertoire of vegetarian dishes.
What is special about India to you?
Everything. It is unlike any other place on Earth and that is why I love it so much. It is never predictable, it demands that you engage fully with it.
From where have you collected the recipes you use in the book?
From people all over the country, home kitchens, street vendors, dhabas, palace kitchens, campsite kitchens and restaurant kitchens. Every recipe was given to me as a gift, this is a collection of heirloom and family recipes from all over the country that reflect the diversity and enormity of the food culture of India.
What makes Indian food and cooking different to anywhere else?
It’s distinctive use of spice, its simplicity
How does Indian food vary throughout the country?
Each region is different and within each region each religion determines the cooking, as outlined in any of the chapters in my book.
Do you have a personal favourite recipe in the book?
No, I love all the recipes. I don’t do one-off favourites (of anything) – that is way too one dimensional and narrow.
What do you hope people will gain from Tasting India?
A better understanding and appreciation for the country, the people and its food – to want to improve on your repertoire at home, to have a keen desire to travel there and explore each region as I have done – there is so much on offer.
Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring young chefs?
Be resilient, passionate, determined and constantly curious. Educate your tastebuds and fine tune your palate. Be open to everything.
Christine is one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs – a perfectionist inspired by strong flavours, and a writer whose successful books, Fire, Spice, Stir, Christine Manfield Originals and Christine Manfield Desserts, have spiced up the lives of keen cooks everywhere.
Her professional culinary life started in the mid-1980s and has culminated to date in three ground-breaking restaurants: Paramount in Sydney from 1993 to 2000, East@West in London from 2003 to early 2005, and now back in Sydney with Universal Restaurant, which continues to win accolades from critics and diners alike. An inveterate traveller, Christine continues to broaden her global food interests, working alongside respected chefs around the world and hosting gastronomic tours to exotic destinations including Morocco, India, Spain and Turkey.