Column Food Bytes (Lingering Taste of Sweden" In Sunday Standard News Paper on 4th December 2011

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Monish Gujral Last Updated : 02 Dec 2011 02:15:28 PM IST
On a recent trip to Sweden, I was touched by the Swedish warm hospitality and it reinforced my belief that people living in cold countries are generally warm-hearted. I also found them very sweet. Perhaps, that is the reason why Punjabis pronounce sweet dish as ‘swedish’. This was also one of the culinary expeditions to understand culture and food habits of the place.
In Stockholm, I was hosted by a young dynamic chef K C Wallberg, who is also author of many cookbooks and runs a couple of fine Swedish restaurants. A week that I spent with him in his kitchen and touring Stockholm contributed a lot towards my knowledge of Swedish cuisine and culture. We experimented with deer meat, elk meat, marinated them with Indian spices, curd and grilled them in salamander in absence of a tandoor. The result was tandoori deer and elk, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the guests at the restaurant. We also had tandoori wild duck salad and for dessert I made Phirni.
I was overwhelmed by their culinary excellence and hospitality after making culinary rounds of popular and Michelin-star restaurants. I visited Mathia’s at the Grand Hotel, confectioneries famous for their royal wedding cakes and Cafe Esaias. On one occasion, I was invited by a Swedish couple Tommy and Maret to their house in the woods near the sea. I learned more about Swedish cuisine from them. Basically, Swedish cooking is a no fuss cooking with less use of spices. I was served traditional baked Onion with Pear Jam and tomatoes halved and grilled with mild spices and Goat Cheese.
Due to Sweden’s vast north-south expanse, there have always been regional differences in Swedish cuisine. Historically, in the far north, reindeer and game meat dishes have been popular, while fresh vegetables have played a dominant role in shaping the culinary habits of the south.
Swedes have traditionally been very open to foreign influences, ranging from French cuisine during the 17th and 18th century, to the Sushi and Cafe Latte of today. On the fast food front, pizzas and hot-dogs have been a ubiquitous part of Swedish culture since the 1960s. Twenty years later, the same could be said about the growing popularity of the Kebab and Falafel, as many small restaurants specialise in such dishes.
General features
Swedish cuisine could be described as centered around cultured meats — beef, pork seafood, fish, dairy products, bread, berries and mushrooms. Boiled potatoes are often served as a side dish. Swedish cuisine has a huge variety of breads of different shapes and sizes, made of rye, wheat, oat, white, dark, sour-dough, whole grain soft flatbreads and crispbreads. There are many sweetened bread types and some use spices. Many meat dishes, especially meatballs, are served with lingonberry jam. Sweden’s pastry tradition features a variety of yeast buns, cookies, biscuits and cakes, many of them in a sugary style with a pastry.
Some traditional Swedish dishes are:
Pea Soup, Blood Pudding (black pudding which is eaten with Lingonberry Jam), Julskinka (Cured ham boiled and breaded with mustard), bread crumbs and eggs (Meat stewed with onions spices, and vegetables) and Isterband (Sausage made of coarsely ground pork, barley and potatoes), to name a few.

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First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

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