The Silk Trade Curries Festival that's on till September 11 is just another excuse to visit this spiffy restaurant
As a practice I head towards Noida in search of food only when duty calls. No surprise then that this was my first sojourn at RED (stands for Rare Eastern Dining). The occasion was the ongoing Silk Trade Curries Festival, featuring traditional and innovative curries from southeast Asia. One look at the assortment on offer and I knew this was going to be a tough grind. But it's moments like these that bring out the best (or worst) in me. A few sips of a mocktail and I get down to business.
The interiors give an Oriental feel
Unlike Indian curries, which on the whole are prepared over a long period of time, southeast Asian curries tend to have a much quicker cooking time and typically a thinner, soup-like sauce. There are, however, exceptions like the delicious Indonesian Rendang, cooked over three to four hours, where the resulting sauce clings to the meat in a thick, glossy slick. Curries are very common across the region, except in Vietnam where the Chinese influence is strong. The concept probably came from India and spread east, but the people of the southeast modified the original by substituting coconut milk with yoghurt as the basis for the sauce. The wok and the stir-fry technique using vegetable oils come from China.
Two flavours, however -- lemon grass and galangal -- make the cuisines of the region unique. They are undoubtedly of local origin, for they are rarely used anywhere else.Come to think of it, I could have thrown in bits and pieces of this lore in the small talk with master chef Raymond Sim, but the Lemongrass curry (a turmeric-based dish bursting with lemongrass flavour, best enjoyed with fish or prawns) and Hor Mok curry (a rich and robust Indonesian recipe with lamb) kept my mouth busy.
There was also the Prawn curry (made up of Thai galangal ginger, lime leaves and a base of roasted bell peppers) and Curry Nonya (from the famous strait of Singapore and Malaysia). And, of course, the Mussaman-Asam curry (a personal favourite for some time now), a speciality of chef Sim, deserves a mention. By now, I was bursting at the seams, but on insistence from corporate executive chef Rajesh Variyath, I decided to try their ice cream spring rolls. A fitting finale to a mesmerising meal. So? What are you waiting for?
At: Radisson Blu MBD Hotel L-2, Sector 18, Noida
Till: September 11
Timings: 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm (lunch) & 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm (dinner)
For Reservations Call: 4300 000
Meal for two: Rs 2,500 + taxes