Seven Spanish chefs share family kitchen secrets

Dec 02, 2017, 14:31 IST | Phorum Dalal

Seven chefs, who are in the city to whip up a Spanish spread, share family kitchen secrets and bust myths about the cuisine

Did you know that vegetables in Spain are gaining popularity, and the assumption that Spaniards eat only fish and meat is not true? Even the idea that the cuisine is a traditional one is shifting as the new generation of Spanish chefs are breathing new life into them. The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, has flown down five chefs and two sommeliers for a Spanish festival, which is on till December 3. We catch up with them to learn a cooking tip or two:

Tapas chef Benigno Couso
Hometown: Vigo, northwest Spain
Kitchen confidential: When you boil salted codfish, which is a delicacy in Spain, you should add sugar instead of salt. Salted codfish has a lot of gelatine, which blends with the saltiness of the fish, with the added sugar creating a great flavour.

My grandmother used to own a hotel and people came from miles away to eat her signature salted codfish dish. The sugar was her secret and she passed it on to me.

Chef Rafael Centeno
Hometown: Vigo, northwest Spain

Kitchen confidential: My mother adds sherry vinegar to lots of dishes, like lentils, to which she adds a teaspoon of it, sauces, and even desserts and strawberries. Vinegar gives things a spark. It works well in the Spanish lentil stew.

Chef Hector Lopez
Hometown: Lugo in Galicia, northwest Spain

Kitchen confidential: The secret of a good paella is the stock. It's all about preparing a great stock and respecting the optimum cooking time for each separate ingredient in the paella.

Chef Lucia Freitas
Hometown: Vigo, northwest Spain
Kitchen confidential: My family uses vinegar a lot as it intensifies the flavour of so many dishes. I add it to traditional fish stews like caldeirada. I always cooked with my father and I have learnt a lot from him.

He's great at making bread and biscuits. We even planted a vegetable garden together. Many of the vegetables I use in my restaurant come from my father's plot.

Chef Fernando Rodriguez
Hometown: Coruna, northwest Spain
Kitchen confidential: We cook free-range chicken in a wood-fired stove. This was my grandmum's star dish.

She made an amazing chicken stew with a traditional recipe using garlic, onion and peppers and stock, which she stewed for hours on low heat.

Sommelier Luis Paadin
Hometown: A Coruna

Kitchen confidential: Always sip the same wine with which you have made the meal.

Sommelier Alejandro Paadín
Hometown: Alborada
Kitchen confidential: The secret to making the perfect Spanish potato tortilla is to make sure that the onion is very well done.

Till: December 3
At: Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba
Call: 66653305
Cost: `5,000 onwards

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