Rarely that you would see a Maharaj cooking a pure vegetarian meal and a wine connoisseur picking wines to match! This happened at the Tuskers Mumbai’s only vegetarian restaurant within a luxury hotel where Maharaj Janakidas joined hands with Sanjay Menon the pioneer of the imported wine scene in India to lay down a menu with wines to match. Even more the wines were French and this dinner marked this year’s 40 day wine extravaganza which began on 23rd September across Sofitel hotels worldwide in parallel to the grape harvesting season.
The Sancerre 2013 from Pascal Jolivet opened the evening; it was quite restrained with a lot of citrus, flint the classic green touch to it with persistent acidity. The wine enhanced the Palak and anardana tikki, cut through the creamy bharwan paneer and got enhanced with the fruit coming through with the saltiness of the Makai pakoda. Sanjay Menon kept answering the string of questions from the guests all throughout it was good to see his unwavering enthusiasm to apprise the diners about the nuances of wine and the food alike.
The Pinot Noir 2008 from the Beaune appellation and the house of Bouchard Pere & Fils was fruity with earthy, cigar like tertiary aroma to the fore. The Kacche kele ki sabzi brought out the fruitiness of the wine but the wine struggled a bit with the chilli heat of the Sangri Ke Koftey. I strongly feel that with extremely hot food one should give the wine a miss and Sanjay echoed the same thoughts. He also quickly passed on a message to tone the heat down for the next course. The baingan ka bharta, the bhuna palak and dal panchmel brought out different element of the next a Southern Rhone white blend, Le Vieille Fermes, The Grenache Blanc dominant blend was more opulent than its Loire Valley cousin and paired beautifully with the food.
The next one was the highlight of the dinner when the Amritsari wadi curry pushed the Cotes Du Rhone 2012 from Paul Jaboulet to its fruity best whilst the spice from the curry lingered on. Vegetarian food and wine deserves attention especially in a country where vegetarianism thrives and wine blends in well especially in the moneyed class and kudos to Tuskers and the Sofitel management who see potential!
Read more on principles of wine and vegetarian pairing here