UK chef’s currying flavours in India
WHILE Gordon Ramsay’s fiery Scottish temper gives birth to an onslaught of profanities that, more often than not, leaves his “victims” cowering in fear, there is no denying his skills in the kitchen.
As one of four chefs in the UK to receive the coveted three Michelin stars for his Restaurant Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road in the UK (the other three chefs in the same league being Heston Blumenthal, Alain Ducasse and Alain Roux) it should speak volumes for the aptitude of the once aspiring footballer. And to think, had it not been for a knee injury, the culinary genius within Ramsay would have never been discovered.
Ramsay, on a sponsorship, enrolled at North Oxfordshire Technical College with the intention to study hotel management and ended up… well, cooking. In his early career, he worked with the crème da la crème of chefs, from Marco Pierre White (Harveys), Albert Roux (Le Gavroche), Guy Savoy to Joël Robuchon in Paris.
With more than 20 books to his name and a plethora of international restaurants, Ramsay continues to court favour with his TV shows that are a far cry from his debut show, Boiling Point, in 1998.
Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen, The F Word and MasterChef (US) have all been a huge success. His knack for calling a spade a spade and demanding excellence makes him compelling to watch.
Of course, with success comes controversy and Ramsay certainly weathered his fair share of financial and personal storms last year. He was accused of being unfaithful to wife Tana and his company, Gordon Ramsay Holdings Limitied, underwent a financial audit.
Bouncing back with his latest offering, Gordon’s Great Escapes, which starts on BBC Lifestyle next Monday, he sets off for India.
“I love Britain’s favourite food – Indian – but I’m no expert at cooking it,” Ramsay explains on his culinary journey.
He adds that he has been in love with Indian food ever since he was a little boy and his mother cooked him his first curry.
His gastronomic adventure kicks off in North India – Delhi, to be exact – which is regarded as the home of korma chicken and breyani.
“I want to explore India’s gastronomic delights and escape. I want to get back to doing what I do best – cooking. About 99 percent of the food in the UK is North Indian. I want to know: are we doing it wrong? Are we faking it?”
Episode one sees Ramsay making tandoori chicken for a not-so-easily-impressed group of Delhi food critics before venturing into the jungle.
His other adventures continue in north-east India, where he travels to Nagaland, Assam and Calcutta, exploring the various food stalls and bonding with the locals.
The journey ends with visits to Kerala, which is famed for its seafood cuisine, and Mumbai. Amid his attempts to soak up as much knowledge about Indian cuisine as he can, Ramsay also gets a cultural crash- course as he goes bullock racing in Tamil Nadu.
There’s nothing like a little bit of India to spice up one’s life and Ramsay certainly finds himself a more seasoned chef in Gordon’s Great Escapes.
l Gordon’s Great Escapes airs on BBC Lifestyle at 8.25pm on April 4.
NOW I’m no expert in the kitchen, but I do enjoy cooking a good curry every now and again. I also find it quite therapeutic.
For BBC Lifestyle’s launch of Gordon’s Great Escapes, the media got to cook their own lunch at The Giggling Gourmet CooksPlayground in Cape Town. Of course, it was under the watchful eye of an infectiously funny Jenny Morris.
I was partnered with blogger Clayton Morar to make the roti and jeera bread. It was the simpler of dishes as other journalists partnered to cook butter chicken, mustard seed potatoes, prawn curry, tandoori chicken kebabs, an Indian omelette, brinjal and butter bean curry, jeera rice, poadoms, raita, sambals and cardamom cup dessert.
Having grown up on Indian cuisine, I had an advantage over my cooking partner, but he certainly appreciated it when it came to us completing our task. Although we did have a few tussles over him using an excess of flour to knead the dough for the jeera bread, which resulted in a bit of a food fight. And don’t even get me started on the amount of oil he used to baste the roti before throwing it into the pan to brown.
Overall, we learned how to play around with spices and have fun, which probably sums up Gordon Ramsay’s experience in India.