With the weather being so severe and cold over the past few weeks I wanted to make a recipe that would warm you from the inside out, not with spicy heat but with rich, deep flavor. One thing I have learned about my husband is that he has a secret list of comfort foods that keep drawing him back to the flavors of his youth. Egg curry is one of those foods. I prepared this dish for him last night after he came home following a long, cold, rainy, sleety, snowy drive from the office. After a few bites, he was happy and toasty.

Fenugreek Egg Curry

Fenugreek Egg Curry

This version of egg curry features fenugreek seeds and fenugreek leaves whose vibrant aroma and flavors enhance the dish. Both fenugreek leaves and seeds have a slightly bitter and nutty flavor that balances the spices and complement the flavor of the hard-boiled eggs. These ingredients replace anise, which is most commonly used. The curry is made from ground shallots, coconut and spices that are mixed with tomato paste, almond paste and coconut milk to give it a rich and creamy texture. It is finished by placing hard-boiled eggs and a bit of chopped cilantro on the top. Serve Fenugreek Egg Curry with hot fresh chapatis or plain rice.

This curry is so delicious that it should be used with chicken. Maybe that will be my project for next week!

Enjoy!

During my visit to the Whisky Show in London last month, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives of two Indian distilleries, Amrut and Paul John. In addition my husband found a bottle of Peter Scot that he brought to the U.S. from one of this trips to India. Now I have the opportunity to pair these delightful whiskies with my South Indian recipes.

Indian whiskies

Indian whiskies sampled for this review.

Amrut, located in India’s tech hub of Bangalore and founded in 1948 but only started producing whisky in the 1980s, is the first Indian whisky that I have seen available in the U.S. The barley is grown in the Punjab and Rajasthan in North India then transported to Bangalore where it is processed and distilled and finally matured in barrels. At the whisky show I learned the altitude and weather there makes the whisky mature in just a few short years! My husband owns a bottle of their Fusion single malt whisky that is made with a unique blend of Scottish and Indian barleys as well as a bottle of their single malt. His friends Shail and Kishore gave these bottles to us.

Amrut whisky

Amrut bottles available at the Whisky Exchange.

Paul John, founded in 1992 by John Distillers, is located in beautiful Goa on the western coast of India. It is now one of the largest alcohol producers in India. I visited this area last year during my trip to India and fell in love with the food, land and people. I even sampled some of the local home brew called toddy or feni, This state is more progressive in its attitudes toward alcohol due to the influence of the Portuguese so locating a distillery here makes business sense. The climate in Goa makes it a perfect location for making whisky because it matures much faster here than it can in colder countries. Having sampled four of their different whiskies, their products are excellent and quite competitive. Their whiskies debuted on the international scene in 2013.

Paul John whisky

Some of the Paul John bottles available at the Whisky Exchange.

Started in 1968, Khoday, India, makes Peter Scot Malt which is labeled as the only 100% Indian malt whisky. Khoday is considered one oldest whisky makers in India for the Indian market and blends imported Scotch whisky with Indian spirits. Its history is colorful with legal challenges over naming and trademark infringement but that has long since been resolved. I have not seen this brand anywhere outside of India.

 

South Indian Recipe Indian Whisky Attributes
Prawn Balchao Amrut Fusion Rich aroma on the nose with flavors of intense smoke, fruit, coffee and chocolate on the palate. The finish is intense as well with spice, sweetness and smoke.
Black-eyed Pea Masala
Steak Chettichurri
Kheema Chatti Pathri
Filet Mignon with Onion Chutney Cream Sauce
Roasted Lamb Chops
Langoustine Biryani Amrut Indian Single Malt Intense citrus and fruit aroma with spices, sweetness on the palate. Finishes with apples, apricots and malt flavors.
Prawn Balchao
Shrimp Avinasi
Steak Chettichurri Paul John Classic Select Cask A wonderful whisky with fruit and barley on the nose, honey, salt, spices and chocolate all in the palate. Finishes with more fruit and a bit of oak.
Kheema Chatti Pathri
Filet Mignon with Onion Chutney Cream Sauce
Roasted Lamb Chops
Goes well with any Indian chicken or seafood entrée Peter Scot Malt Light on the nose, pleasant bouquet on the palate. Sweet, lingering finish.

 

In my final installment of pairing the whiskies of Scotland to my Indian recipes, I am including the small peninsula of Campbeltown and the remaining islands. Based on the testing my husband and I did of these whiskies, I have to say that they are all outstanding.

 

My collection of whiskies from the islands of Scotland.

My collection of whiskies from the islands of Scotland.

 

Southwestern Scotland

Whiskies produced in these islands tend to have more of a strong, peaty flavor than many of the other regional whiskies. They have a hint of the sea and smoke so the flavor of these whiskies is very unique.

 

Campbeltown is located on the eastern edge of the Kintyre peninsula along the Campbeltown Loch in southwest Scotland. Today it is home to just 3 distilleries and is considered Scotland’s smallest whisky producing region. With great access to good ingredients to making whisky, Campbeltown is the historical center of whisky in Scotland. Their whiskies are considered to be deep, full of flavor and a bit smoky.

 

Isle of Arran, just east of Campbeltown, is considered a miniature Scotland and offers a similar variety of scenery as the rest of the country in one location. It boasts one distillery that is just 20 years old.

 

Isle of Jura, north of Campbeltown, is known as Deer Island since there are 25 times more deer than people living here. With a small population, this island is quiet and restful. Much of the land is covered with peat and not good for farming. The whisky produced here is less smoky and peaty that that of an Islay malt.

 

Isle of Mull, north of Jura and Campbeltown, is the third largest island in Scotland and features rugged mountains, beautiful coastlines and a bustling harbor. The whisky produced here is lighter and less smoky than other island whisky.

 

Western Scotland

Isle of Skye, a large island directly west of the Highlands region, is known for its beautiful diverse landscapes and wildlife. The whisky produced here can be called a classic malt whiskey with more spice, smoke and peat flavors.

 

Northeastern Scotland

Comprised of 70 islands, Orkney, boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland. Surrounded by the cold North Sea, the whiskies created here are full-bodied and a bit smoky and peaty with a bit of honey.

 

South Indian Recipe Whisky Attributes
Arrabbiata Sauce with Penne

Springbank

10 Year Old

(Campbeltown)

A big-bodied whisky with a bit of peat and earthiness in the nose, richness and nuttiness in the flavor and a finish that is long and crisp.
Goan Pork Vindaloo
Goan Pork Vindaloo

Jura

Superstition

(Jura)

A blend of 13 and 21 year old whiskies, the nose and palate are rich, sweet and creamy with a bit of cereal essence. It finishes with honey and spice. Outstanding.
Grilled Lamb Chops
Lamb Steaks with Cilantro Relish

Ledaig

10 Year Old

(Mull)

Light nose and well balanced. The palate is medium-bodied and rich with hints of spice. A bit of smoke on the finish.
Grilled Lamb Chops
Chicken Cafreal

Tobermory

10 Year Old

(Mull)

A gentle whisky with a light, pleasant nose. The palate is sweet and light with a finish to match.
Fenugreek Chicken Curry
Peri-Peri Chicken Curry
Prawn Balchao

Talisker

Storm

(Skye)

An excellent whisky with a refined, creamy nose followed by a thick texture on the palate with a bit of smoke. Dry oak on the finish.
Spiced Drumsticks
Seekh Kababs

Highland Park

12 Year Old

(Orkney)

A lightly peated whiskey with a bit of citrus and spice on the nose. A bit of smoke, grains and almonds give a silky palate. A long finish with a bit of wood and smoke.
Peri-Peri Chicken Curry
Prawn Balchao
Chicken with Basil Curry

Scapa

16 Year Old

(Orkney)

A rich, full-bodied whisky with toffee and honey on the nose. Silk on the palate with spices, honey and oak. The rich finish lingers with a bit of oak and smoke. Delicious.
Baked Salmon Dijon
Chicken Dum Biryani
Seekh Kababs

 

Try out these pairing and let me know what you think. Please send me your preferred pairings; I would love to hear from you.

 

At the end of November I will pair my Indian whiskies with south Indian recipes. Come back and visit again soon.

On October 4th my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the Whisky Show at The Whisky Exchange in London. We planned to arrive early to get in line for the event so we wouldn’t have to wait in the mad rush when the doors opened. Once we arrived we realized that I misread the start time. It started an hour later than I thought so we ended up near the front of the line and had an extra hour to get to know the people in front and behind us. We met people who had attended prior shows and seemed to know a lot about whisky and a few bloggers who were a lot of fun to get to know.

 

Once inside, we were presented with really cute etched stemmed whisky glasses to use during the tasting events and then to take home with us. The event was spread out over 4 huge rooms with representatives from over 80 distilleries in attendance. With exhibitors from England, Wales, U.S, Sweden, Japan and, of course, Scotland, the show displayed the entire range of whiskies by age, ingredients, maturation process and the like. Many rare and unusual whiskies that I cannot find at home were available to sample as well as some of the most expensive whiskies in the world.

etched whisky glass from London Whisky Show 2014

Etched whisky glass from London Whisky Show 2014

 

The exhibition rooms were very pleasant since they were not jam packed with people. Attendees were not rushed or pushy. This enhanced the experience so we could interact with the exhibitors to learn about their offerings and sample them at our leisure. Everyone seemed to take their time to have fun and learn as much as they could. Representatives from the various distilleries seemed to be enjoying the event as well and tried very hard to share their passion for and knowledge of their products.

 

I tried to take notes during this experience but that ceased after two tastings because I could not hold a glass, a pen and my notebook, and walk, talk and think at the same time. All I can say is that most of the whiskies I really enjoyed and some of them were not my favorites due to my flavor preferences. I cannot say any of them were bad (somehow I suspect any “bad” ones would not have appeared at a top end show like this one). I learned a lot about whisky, how it is made, and how it is influenced by the ingredients, process, environment and every other tiny aspect that contribute to the end product. I learned that “smoke” and “peat” are independent variables in whisky. Previously I assumed they were interrelated so if a whisky were peaty, I would not like it. I discovered I do like peaty whisky; it is the smoke flavor I am not very fond of in my whisky.

 

Admission to the event included a lovely two-course whisky infused meal. All of the entrees and the desserts were prepared with a different whisky and were absolutely delicious. I had the Lamb Shoulder in Barley Broth that was made with Scallywag blended malt whisky and my husband had the Roast Pumpkin Lasagna prepared with Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve whiskey. We selected the Sticky Toffee Pudding served with a cream sauce infused with Singleton of Dufftown Tailfire.

 

One of the highlights of the show was the opportunity to sample dream drams. These are tastings of very rare and expensive whiskies, many of which are no longer available on the market. For a mere $10 to $40, a taste of truly exquisite whiskies could be sampled. I have heard that tastes of some of them go for about $300! The dream dram we sampled was the amazing Glenmorangie Pride 1978, which retails for a mere $6000 per bottle! Believe me, it was really dreamy.

 

My husband and I had a fantastic time at this event and hope to being able to attend again in the future. For any dedicated whisky lovers, this is an event that is not to be missed!

 

Ideal glass for tasting whisky

Ideal glass for tasting whisky

In my virtual travels around Scotland to pair the regional whiskies with my Indian food recipes, I have visited the Speyside, Highlands and Lowlands regions to date. In this installment I will be pairing the Islay whiskies with my Indian dishes. With 8 active distilleries, I am separating out this island as its own region. Islay produces many outstanding whiskies that rank among my favorites.

 

Islay whiskies

Our collection of Islay whiskies.

Islay, like the name indicates, is an island off the southwest coast of Scotland in the southern Hebrides. The terrain is rugged while the weather is mild. Whiskies produced in the Islay region are know for their strong, peaty flavor than many of the other regional whiskies and also seem to possess a hint of seaweed thus the flavor of these whiskies is very distinctive. This small island features 8 distilleries and produces some of the best and most popular whiskies. Islay sits on top of a large layer of peat, has soil that is perfect for growing barley, and has an abundance of pure water, all of which are crucial to producing excellent Islay whisky.

 

Indian Recipe Whisky Attributes
Steak Chettichurri

Ardbeg

10 Year Old

Incredibly smoky and peaty, very complex and intense on every dimension of flavor.
Roasted Fenugreek Lamb Chops
Tandoori Chicken

Bowmore

12 Year Old

Beautifully balanced whisky with peaty smoke on the nose, sweet taste and a mellow finish.
Steak Chettichurri

Bunnahabhain

12 Year Old

Lightly peated with a fresh, sweet aroma followed by a soft, velvety taste and a bit of sherry on the finish.
Roasted Fenugreek Lamb Chops
Peri-Peri Chicken Curry

Caol Ila

12 Year Old

Complex nose of herbs and smoke followed with a bit of sweetness along with the smoke on the palate. Spicy finish.
Prawn Balchao
Swordfish Masala in Pappilote
Rogan Josh
Dry Meat Fry

Lagavulin

16 Year Old

 A very intense whisky with throughout with peat and smoke as well as a bit of sweetness from the nose through the finish.
Goan Pork Vindaloo
Tanjore Red Snapper with Roasted Red Pepper
Pondicherry Pouillabaise

Laphroaig

10 Year Old

Rich whisky with a lot of smoke on the nose, peat and sweetness on the palate and a lingering finish.
Indian Seafood Soup
Seafood Biryani

 

Try out these pairing and let me know what you think. Send me your preferred pairings and thoughts. I look forward to hear from you. My next post on whisky pairings will feature Campbeltown and other islands.

The next stop on my virtual tour around the whisky regions of Scotland to pair the various whiskies with specific Indian recipes focuses on those from the Lowlands whisky region. Many of these whiskies rank among my all time favorites.

 

Lowlands region whiskies include Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan.

Lowlands region whiskies include Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan.

 

The Lowlands region is the second largest whisky producing area in Scotland stretching from the very southern border of the country up to an imaginary line drawn between Dundee on the east and Greenock on the south side of the River Clyde. This region includes both the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the two largest cities in the country.

 

This region is known for its softer, milder whiskies. The flavors contrast with bold and robust flavors of the Highlands whiskies. Considering the physical size of this region, it is home to just a half dozen distilleries.

 

South Indian Recipe Whisky Attributes
Chickpea Masala Glenkinchie
12 Year Old
A delicate whisky with vanilla and cut flower essence, a soft and sweet palate and an herbal finish. Very smooth taste when a bit of water is added.
Spicy Grilled Swordfish
Grilled Fish with Molee Sauce
Dosa Auchentoshan
12 Year Old
The aroma begins with the scent of crème brulee, citrus and nuts that is smooth and sweet on the palate and brings a hint of ginger and nuts to the finish.
Langoustine Biryani
Grilled Fish with Molee Sauce
Biryani

 

 

 

Try out these pairing and let me know what you think.  I am very interested in learning your preferences on pairings. My next post on whisky pairings will feature Islay, which is a significant whisky region, an island actually, on the southwest side of Scotland.

 

In June I wrote a general article about how to pair whisky with Indian food and another about pairing specific foods with whiskies of the Speyside region of Scotland. This post is dedicated to the many outstanding whiskies of the Highlands region. Many of these whiskies rank among my all time favorites.

 

Highlands whisky

Selection of Highlands whisky that pairs well with Indian recipes.

 

The Highlands region is physically the largest whisky producing area in Scotland stretching from the center of the country to the northernmost point. With coastlines on three sides and a large central piece of land, the landscape and climate are diverse giving the whiskies produced there a huge range of flavors. Many of the flavors resemble those of Speyside (the Highlands do surround this region) and the Islay regions. Some of the whiskies are soft and fruity while others are intense and smoky. In this short blog post it would be impossible for me to go into the detail required to explain the nuances of each sub-region in the Highlands (north, south, east and west) and, frankly, exceed my knowledge. In spite of the vastness of the region, the Highlands region is home to about 25 distilleries, about half of the number found in the much smaller Speyside region.

 

The table below lists some of my favorite Highlands whiskies that I pair with some of my Indian recipes.

 

South Indian Recipe Highlands Whisky Attributes
Chicken Tikka Masala Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Crisp, clean aroma with a mild and balanced palate, oak and spices in the finish
Halibut Steamed in Banana Leaves
Prawn Balchao Oban 14 Year Old Rich and smoky aroma with the essence of the sea carries through to the palate and a oak finish
Chicken & Saffron Curry Glenmorangie Original Light citrus on the nose becomes a bit of vanilla on the palate followed by fruit, clean fruity finish
Chicken Cafreal Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Intense, velvety nose and plate the bring oranges, nuts and spices to mind, the finish is silky with a hint of chocolate
Lamb Kabobs
Tandoori Chicken
Chicken Dum Biryani Glenmorangie Lasanta Warm spices on the note, sweet sherry and butterscotch on the palate with a lovely orange, spice finish
Langoustine Biryani
Mussel Fry
Grilled Fenugreek Lamb Chops Dalmore 25 Year Old Vanilla and orange on the nose intensifying into mango on the palate followed by a dark chocolate finish
Rogan Josh
Mint Chicken Dalmore 12 Year Old Coffee and spices on the nose with orange essence and chocolate added to the palate and finish
Lobster Paella Aberfeldy 12 Year Old Creamy and fruity nose, sweet and a bit of peat on the palate followed by a malt and citrus finish

 

Try out these pairing and let me know what you think.  Please send me your preferred pairings; I would love to hear from you. My next post on whisky pairings will feature the Lowlands region, just south of the Highlands.

In my last post, I described the process my husband and I went through to become familiar enough with the textures, tastes and nuances of various Scotch whiskies to be able to pair them with food, specifically South Indian food. We love whisky and would enjoy a little bit before dinner on occasion and would switch to wine to drink with our meal. That is so old school. Now we are pairing our favorite whiskies with many of my Indian recipes with great success. Let me tell you about the pairings we have made so far.

whisky

 

Since the purpose of this post is to get you started pairing whisky with Indian food I thought I would start with the products from my favorite whisky region of Scotland, Speyside.

Nearly half of the distilleries of Scotland are located in Speyside, which is located around the Spey River in northern Scotland and surrounded by the Highlands region. The whiskies produced in this region are, in my mind, simply classy and elegant. Their flavor is subtle, with a fragrance of honey, flowers and, perhaps, citrus. They are very pleasant to roll around in your mouth so you can get the full taste leaving you with a polished, pleasant finish. This region is known to provide two important exports to the world: whisky and salmon. It is not a surprise that the flavors of many South Indian recipes made with salmon are greatly enhanced with the pairing.

 

Speyside Whisky Pairings:

 

South Indian Recipe Speyside Whisky Attributes
Salmon, Swordfish Masala The Macallan 12 Year Old Smooth flavor of vanilla with a bit of sweetness on the nose with fruit and sherry on the palate that stand up to subtly seasoned fish
Mild Salmon, Grilled Fish with Molee Sauce Aberlour 12 Year Old Soft, round aroma, tastes of ginger & spices, hint of spice in finish
Pork Vindaloo, spicy Grilled Shrimp with Black Salt Balvenie 14 Year Rum Cask Rich toffee scent, smooth flavor with essence of cinnamon & spice, warm finish
Anything spicy Glenlivet 12 Year Old Light nose, fruity palate, smooth finish to balance the spice
Kesari, Sevai, Puttu and Kadala Glenrothes Lovely vanilla scent combined with a soft flavor boasting vanilla and cinnamon
Spicy, Blackened Redfish Tacos Balvenie Doublewood 12 Year Old Fresh, fruity nose, fruit and butterscotch flavors with a mellow finish
Goan Pork Vindaloo, Piri Piri Chicken Curry Cragganmore 12 Year Old Essence of honey and wildflowers in the aroma, and rich smoke and fruit in the flavor pair well with the bold spice in these recipes
Pondicherry Pouillabaisse Tomatin 12 Year Old, Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Fresh and fruity aroma, balance palate of fruit, male and nuts, smooth and rich finish

 

Try out these Speyside whisky pairing and see for yourself that they work. Let me know what you think, even if you think I missed the mark. My next post on whisky pairings will feature the Highland region that surrounds Speyside.

Slàinte mhath!

I have enjoyed trying new wines and pairing them with my favorite foods, at restaurants and at home, for many years. It is a popular activity for professional chefs and oenophiles as well as the casual wine enthusiast to analyze the flavors and textures of wines to find the best dishes to compliment them. My husband and I have visited many wineries, talked with their wine makers, belonged to wine clubs (which has delightfully caused a wine glut in our home) and attended wine tastings to learn as much about wine as possible. Since there are so many options available, I am thankful my wonderful husband has an encyclopedic brain and can remember the different brands, varietals, vintages, prices and characteristics and then recall any tidbit at a moments notice.

 

A few of the bottles of Scotch whisky that we enjoy drinking with Indian food.

A few of the bottles of Scotch whisky that we enjoy drinking with Indian food.

Over the past few years I have tried to expand this to scotch whisky but have been intimidated by the enormous depth and breadth of options. The good thing for me is that my encyclopedic husband has excellent taste in scotch and can identify the attributes that make one a better match to a specific dish.

 

Whisky varies wildly in flavor based on the region in which it was produced, the distillery, the distilling process, the wood in which it is matured, its age and many more factor. No two whiskies are alike – every one has its own unique personality.

 

I found a matrix arranges many popular Scotch whiskies on a two-dimensional grid. One axis explores the flavor of whiskies, from light to rich, while the other addresses level of complexity, from delicate to smoky. It is a great way to find whiskies that may have similar or complimentary characteristics to one that you already enjoy. Check out the flavor map at: http://www.malts.com/index.php/en_us/Choosing-Whisky/A-World-of-Flavour/The-Single-Malt-Whisky-Flavour-Map.

 

Before you start pairing whiskies with food, I recommend tasting several different ones from different regions on the grid to learn how different ones taste and discover your preferences. Pour a little bit into a special whisky tasting glass. Do not add ice. If you must add water, don’t add more than a teaspoon, as it will change the flavor.

 

  • Twirl it around then get really close to the whisky and take a deep sniff. Think about the scents you smell (this is called the nose).
  • Then take a bit of whisky in your mouth. Don’t swallow yet! Let it roll around in your mouth. Feel the liquid on your tongue. Take note of what you taste (this is called the palate).
  • Finally, swallow. After a moment, make a list of the flavors that linger in your mouth (this is called the finish). Based on my experience, this cannot be done at one sitting, for obvious reasons.

 

It has taken me months, more like a few years, to be able to describe my tasting experiences. Taking notes after each taste is a great way to remember your impressions for future comparison.

 

The next step is to analyze the foods you eat to detect the flavors they contain. Again, taking notes is a great idea.

 

The best part of the process begins when you get to put the first two steps together. There are several different approaches to pairing whisky with food. You can pair based on similar flavors. If you detect a flavor in a whisky, look for a food that contains that flavor. For example, my Pondicherry Pouillabaisse recipe has a bit of a lemony, citrus flavor. It pairs well with the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban that also has a hint of citrus in its flavor notes. Another method is to look for opposites. If you have a mild whisky, try pairing it with a rich or spicy dish. I like to pair my Piri Piri Chicken Curry recipe with Balvenie Caribbean Cask (14 Year) because the sweet, creamy flavor of vanilla work well with the vegetables, tang and spice of the curry.

 

Matching whisky with food is a fun activity that may spark much animated or heated discussion as to which scotch is best and why it is so. Fortunately everyone will be correct in their opinions because each person’s palate detects whisky’s attributes differently and prefers different flavors. The fun part is the discussion of what can be detected by the nose, from rolling a bit around the tongue at the start, middle and end of a sip and the finish.

 

In my next post I will give you my thoughts about pairing Scotch with South Indian food. Yes, they do go well together.