Biryani is the Spanish equivalent of paella: Chef Jordi Gimeno
Barcelona-based chef Jordi Gimeno is in town, ready to whip up Catalan cuisine for Mumbai’s gourmands. He speaks about the region’s sea and mountain gastronomy, its magic powder, Picada and the paella’s connect with the biryani
Q. How is the cuisine of Catalonia different from its other Spanish counterparts?
A. Catalan cuisine is vast and varies from place to place within the region. So, the same dishes vary in taste and flavour depending on the area. While the Pyrenees Mountains (between France and Spain) are known for roasted meat and stews, the Catalan coast has built a reputation for its fish and seafood preparations. What makes it different from Spanish cuisine is the sea and mountain gastronomy. These dishes combine meat and seafood in one dish!
On the menu: Prawn Casserole with Faba Beans cooked with Picada (in pic) is on the festival menu; this includes Catalan Fish Soup with Aioli, Roast Lamb Manchego-style, Albondigas Mar I Muntanya (Meatballs with Cuttlefish combining sea and mountain gastronomy) and Panellets (Sweet Almond Balls)
Daus de salmo (Diced salmon)
Q. Which staple ingredients are used in this regional cuisine?
A. Being a Mediterranean country, our dishes always begin with the beloved olive oil, onion, garlic and tomato, in this order of appearance in the pan. Another important ingredient used in many dishes from the Catalan region is wine. It brings out the natural flavours of meat as well as seafood.
Q. Which cooking techniques are specific to this cuisine?
A. Picada is essential to Catalan cooking. It is like a magic powder, made with roasted garlic, bread, parsley, almonds and hazelnuts; it adds incredible taste and thickness to stews. It hails from our traditional cuisine and chefs from across the world seem to love it.
Musclos Al Vapor (Steamed Mussels)
Vegetables with Romesco Sauce
Q. Have you tweaked any dishes to suit the Indian palate at the ongoing festival?
A. More than tweaking, I have tried to adapt my dishes to culinary habits of the Indian guests. I had to spice things up a bit, more than what the dish usually requires.
Professor to chef: A former professor of Catalan language and culture at University of Szeged, Hungary, chef Jordi Gimeno has two decades of experience across Spanish restaurants like Fonda Xesc in Gombren found in the Michelin Guide. Since 2001, he has also been organising Spanish Food Festivals in Mumbai and Bangalore
Q. Have you found any similarities between Catalan and Indian cuisine?
A. Just as Catalan cuisine has many variations to it, so is the case with Indian cuisine. However, the familiarity of using garlic and tomato at the beginning of every single Indian dish makes the two cuisines somewhat similar. Also, according to me, the Indian biryani is the Spanish equivalent of the paella.
Rap Amb Verdures (Monkfish with vegetables)
Q. Tell us about your impressions of Mumbai’s food scene.
A. I have been spearheading food festivals in Mumbai since 2001 and it’s amazing to see how the city has grown tremendously in terms of offering world cuisine. With regards to the vegetarian dishes, Europe has a lot to learn from your cuisine. I find Indian desserts fascinating and would love to learn more about them.
A map highlighting Catalonia
Q. A dish from Mumbai that you’d like to introduce in Catalonia...
A. A fusion of Indian fish and prawn curry with the Picada. I’m sure it will be an awesome combination.
Time: 12.30 pm to 3 pm (lunch buffet) and 7.30 pm to 11 pm (dinner buffet) TILL October 20
At: O22, Trident — Bandra Kurla, C-56, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex.
For reservations, Call: 66727610
Cost: Rs 2,300 plus taxes
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