A Sketch of Indian cuisine and Wine. Now and Then

Overview

India as a country is diverse in nature and its diversity has brought out various cuisines from its vastness of culture. The culinary identity of India portrays its different kinds of food and tastes from its regional to local distinctiveness. Due to its immense historical significance, the country continues to experience a mixture in the style of food-making. Indian cuisines and dishes are mostly influenced by traditional and religious practices, rulers from the past and trade partners. There are several dishes that are a part of its identity, which involve the country’s unique spices and they are authentic regarding the local and regional factors of the country.

The History of Food stretches from Mughal Indian taste to the South Indian cooking. With few of its regions having the foreign influence strongly rooted, the country has profoundly shaped its developments in each of its cuisines. People who invaded the country had brought a lot with them and those have remained in India. The Arabs brought Coffee, asafoetida powder, the Portuguese brought tomatoes, chillies, and this is how the cuisines have created their own flavours all around the country. Although the Mughals had a lot to do with bringing in the Persian influences, they left their Mughlai food in the northern part of the country, their Biriyanis, and Tandooris have always found a special place in Indian cuisine. 

Let’s address Indian special dishes from the different geographies before we tie them into the wine. Indian food is famous all around the world today, and one can explore and experiment in using spices when it comes to making good Indian style food.

Vindaloo from Goa 

Vindaloo is an Indian dish that is very popular in Goa. It is originally a spicy dish and is prepared with the choice of meat that you like. One has to select the kind of meat that they want to make this curry out of, though it is generally made with Pork as the choice of meat. The name Vindaloo is derived from the Portuguese term Vinha d’alhos meaning meat marinated in garlic wine. The dish is mainly made by soaking the meat in red wine, which is a part of the pre-cooking process. As we have gathered that this one is a spicy dish, there are particular spices involved to give it the taste that it needs. The Vindaloo can be tried with both rice and with Rotis or Chapatis (Indian bread) and adding red wine can certainly soften the meat and add an extra flavour to it.

Mutton Kadai

Mutton Kadai is a very popular dish in all of India. People can eat this one for both lunch and dinner, and the dish goes very well with Chapatis and Rotis (Indian bread). This mutton delicacy is a Mughal influence that is indeed mouth-watering and made rich in spices at the same time. The recipe has existed in the country for a long time, and people have brought out their version of this dish from different regions. One can savour this delicacy with Jeera Rice (Cumin Seed Rice) and Butter Naan (Indian Bread). This is one of the very regularly made dishes, and this is very much available in restaurants all over the country. The dish can be prepared from moderate to extremely spicy. Marinating the mutton with red wine is very commonly used with the idea of adding extra taste.

Chicken Tikka 

Chicken tikka is a classical delicacy. If you are looking for an excellent Indian-Mughlai lunch or dinner, you can simply go for the Chicken Tikka, which is a gravy dish, made out of rich spices. The Chicken tikka is very easy to make. There are different versions and styles that one can cook it and it is mainly made in the tandoor, a clay oven. You can also choose boneless chicken with it to give the tenderness in the dish. If you are seeking to taste authentic Indian food with moderate spicy flavour, the tikka is just what will go best with warm Pita bread. It can be cooked spicy as well when adding significant amounts of specific spices.

Malai Kofta

Malai kofta is a very famous vegetarian dish that is regarded as a primary course to the country. It is made out of creamy spices and Malai Balls that are made out of Paneer and is purely vegetarian. It is exclusively made of Yogurt, onions, dry fruit and very importantly fresh cream and tomatoes. Malai kofta is a less spicy dish, and it can be savoured with Parathas (Indian flour bread) and other sorts of Indian bread.

Indian wines and their pair-up with Indian food

Vineyards require a specific climate to exist, and the ones in India range from the North-western state of Punjab to the Southern part of Tamil Nadu. Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana are mainly considered to be the largest and best wine-producing states in India. Wines are liked, and sale and consumption has been increasing in India due to a rise in the incomes level.

The following Indian wines are actually of great quality and would do well with Indian food pairing and obviously because of the spices will do better as a pairing than water as they act as a solvent to the spices in the dishes.  

Grover Zampa LaReserve 

This Indian wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, and it is quite famous nationally. All the grapes are sources within the Karnataka region in India. This wine will do with Tandoori chicken and other non-vegetarian Indian curries.

Sula Chenin Blanc Reserve

The Nashik region is another very well-known wine region in India loved by the locals. This limited edition Chenin Blanc from Sula has  wonderful tones of honey and melon and retains the grape’s acidity fairly well. This wine will do very well with chicken Tikka Masala.

Myra Reserve Shiraz 

A great quality Shiraz with a blend of beautiful aromas of a spice and oak, this wine has made great inroad in India and can easily match medium spicy food as well as Indian seafood cuisines.

Sula Brut

This sparkling wine is a blend of Viognier, Pinot Noir, Sultana, Shiraz and Chenin Blanc. The wine goes well with most  Indian cuisine especially light foods such as Dimsum and seafood as well. 

Sula Zinfandel Rosé

This Zinfandel rosé is quite light and fruity with a light alcohol content. The wine will pair well with spicy Mutton Kadai dishes.

Current Most Prevalent Grapes Grown in India:

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is probably the white grape that could eventually define quality wine production in India.  Furthermore, in the Nashik region tends to currently be creating the best examples and achieving the best awards.  Planting will continue to increase not just because of its awards but also because it is a natural food paring to many Indian national dishes like Mutton Kadai and Chicken Tikka as well as light salads; its versatility may be the perfect match for the versatility of Indian foods.

Grenache/Syrah

This blend combination from the Dindori Estate in the Maharashtra region in India is showing some great potential as well. IT is also commonly used throughout India generally speaking. This blend in this southern region is also blended with red berries which tends to add the sugar structure that does wonders with Maharashtrian cuisines.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is also making inroads in the Maharashtra Region. Again popular in the Indian culture, the grape may often be blended with red berries and passion fruits to produce its final non-traditional wines. The wines are used in the preparation of various dishes like Chicken Tandoori and other Mutton curries.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is a grape variety found in the western region of India and is used to produce premium wines. This variety gives tropical fruit flavour in the wines and goes exceptionally well with Indian Chicken and Mutton curries.

Shiraz

The grape is again prevalent in the production of quality red wines. Shiraz usually will go well with Indian Chicken Barbeque dishes.

Conclusion

India continues to maintain its class system even when it comes to the culinary including indulgences of spices and quality of both food and wine. It certainly has made a good mark in exporting its native cuisines throughout the world. The country’s diversity and constant population growth have made it an ever increasing diverse cuisine while still maintaining its origins. Every cuisine in the country has created their mark, and with that, there are great experiments that go one with Indian food and its various cuisines. Indian winemaking although still lagging in overall quality, certainly keep the local cuisines in mind as they try to create both wines for the locals that will be appreciated and find a balance with its cuisines while even more trying to find an export market. The Indian wine industry although very much in its infancy, will find it very difficult to strike a good balance between quality, meeting eating habits locally while still retaining quality production for the export markets. The coming decades will show if the Indian wine production is up to this very challenging task.