Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The union of Single Malt Whiskies and Indian Cuisine - The Glenlivet presents the Flavours of Kashmir




When I was invited to attend one of the Asian Masters events last week, I was asked to choose from a list of wine/whisky/cocktail dinners. This whisky and Indian food pairing dinner got me excited.

I am no single malt expert and I prefer my glass of wine to whisky any time most of the time. Of all the different aspects of wine and food pairing that I have come across and read about, wine and Indian food is the most controversial and challenging. Some feel that Australian Shiraz can nicely augment meats and vegetables in the spicy sauces typical of Indian foods but for me off-dry German Rieslings are hands down the best wine to pair with Indian food. Some of my beer friends prefer crisp, ice-cold lager instead to go with Indian food. But whisky? Who would have thought of pairing whisky with spicy Indian cuisine? I would not and it was for this reason that I found this Glenlivet Kashmir dinner interesting and exciting.

The whisky dinner was held at Song of India, in one of the charming restored black-and-white bungalows along Scotts Road. Chef Munjunath prepared a 5-course North Indian menu to showcase the traditional flavours of Kashmir with a modern interpretation. The Kashmir meat dishes were both hearty and fragrant although they did not really blow me away.

We were served 5 different vintages of the Glenlivet single malt whiskeys - 12, 15, 18, 21 and 25 year old, one with each course. The age of a whisky is the time it spent in the barrel before being bottled. The longer a whisky remains in the cask, the more flavour it will acquire and the less spirit will remain. We were told that whisky evaporates at a rate of 2% for every year in the cask. That explains the hefty price tag of a bottle of 25YO whisky!

As the dinner progressed, the whiskies got older, stronger and more characters. I started to appreciate my whisky especially the XXV. The 25 year old whisky was rested in oak for a quarter of the century at the very least - meaning it was distilled in 1988 or earlier, when I was still a teenager! The palate was thick and smooth and the finish long and rich. 

Although I fell in love with the Glenlivet and the North Indian dishes were decent, I could not really comprehend the art or logic of pairing the different vintages of whiskies with the Kashmiri menu. In a wine dinner, sommeliers will consider the elements of body/weight, flavour intensity, aroma and taste of both the food and wine to come out with the right balance and the best pairing. I did not see or appreciate any such pairing concept here. 

Hey sommelier, can I have a glass of Max Ferd. Richter Riesling please?


The garlic naan was warm, crispy and fluffy. My dining partner could not stop eating this.

Kashr Gaadh - Smoked fish flavoured with ginger, clove and asafotida.
Nadru Wazwan - Chargrilled lotus root stem marinated with Kasmiri red chilli and cumin.
Glenlivet 12YO

Tabak Maaz - Traditional Kashmiri lamb rack
Glenlivet 15YO

Gostafa-E-Murgh - Chicken minced balls in fennel, cardamom and yogurt sauce
Glenlivet 18YO

Dhani Phul Gulmarg - Slow-cooked lamb shank in Yakhni sauce
Glenlivet 21YO

Seb Ke Phirni - Chilled apple pistachio phirni (rice pudding)
Glenlivet 25YO

9 comments:

  1. Ooooo...I love Indian! Kashmir should be North Indian - not as spicy and a lot of yogurt. Very nice too!

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  2. I am sure I would thoroughly enjoy this meal....and get a nicely flushed face at the end of it:P

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  3. I don't really know how to appreciate whisky, but my husband sure does. The scotsman lovesssss his whisky. :)

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  4. Hi Alvin! I don't think I have ever tasted whisky before. But still, I love Indian food from whatever region. It still sounds strange to me to pair wines/whisky with Indian or Chinese food.

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  5. Hi, thanks for reviewing the wine and providing such good information about Indian cuisine with nice pictures.

    Restaurant Leipzig

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  6. Very impressive click! The garlic naan look extremely good, overall this North Indian food look awesome. Thanks for letting us feast with our eyes. :))

    Have a great day.

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  7. Hi Alvin, all are great stuffs over there, make me feel hungry :0

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  8. Delicious dishes! Indian food is one of my very favourites! Of course, I know next to nothing about wines!

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