Pondicherry (a city in Tamil Nadu, India) cuisine is a fascinating blend of Indian spices and French techniques. I encountered it when I visited the area earlier this year. Since the food was absolutely delicious and unique I decided that featuring a recipe based on Pondicherry cuisine would be a wise decision for my recipe of the month. So, the recipe for August is my version of Pouillabaisse the Pondicherry version of Bouillabaisse.
My recipe is a combination of the traditional Bouillabaisse from Marsailles, France and one from Pondicherry. I found the two interestingly similar and different at the same time. In the French version, one creates a rich broth and then adds the seafood before serving. In the Pondicherry version the seasonings and seafood are cooked first before water is added to make the broth. The French version has very few vegetables in the final product whereas many vegetables are added with the seafood. In both cases, they are very delicately and richly seasoned for a delicious meal.
I hope you enjoy my recipe for Pondicherry Pouillabaisse.
How did Pondicherry cuisine come about?
You might ask how Pondicherry cuisine became fused with French techniques. Since Pondicherry had been conquered by many different nations in its long and colorful history, it is not surprising that some of the dominating cultures remained after the colonists left. Since France ruled for off and on for centuries until Pondicherry became part of India in 1954, it had the opportunity to become deeply engrained.
Unfortunately this cuisine is not very well known outside of this city as it has been passed down through generations of local Pondicherry families and restaurants.
What makes Pondicherry cuisine unique?
The most distinctive feature is in the sauce. They are prepared in a French way over low heat with herbs as well as Indian spices often using cream. The flavors are well matched and refined in contrast to a traditional curry. Pondicherry cuisine also employs cooking techniques that are not often used in Indian cooking like baking and grilling.
Other features include the frequent use of fresh seafood in the recipes due to its location right on the Bay of Bengal. Not only is seafood used but it is used in combination, such as shrimp and fish, to give unique tastes in each bite. Potatoes are found not only in various dishes but are served alone as French fries and mashed potatoes.
If you enjoy my recipe for Pouillabaisse, I strongly recommend you purchase The Pondicherry Kitchen by Lourdes Tirouvanziam-Louis in which she documented traditional Pondicherry recipes from her family and others.
Don’t forget to try my Pondicherry Pouillabaisse recipe!
Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.
All text and photographic content are property of KachisKitchen.com and are not to be used without permission of the author.