Czech that cheese out when in Prague-The New Indian Express

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By Monish Gujral 04th August 2013 12:00 AM

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My summer destination was eastern Europe. The favourite stop was Prague with its monuments, castles and market places and cobbled lanes. Not to forget Charles bridge where a scene of Hum Dil de Chuken Hain Sanam was shot. The bridge was built in the 15th century over Vltava river.

The centre of the town is a busy market swarming with eateries, beer bars and crystal shops.I was intrigued seeing that Czech gastronomy revolves around beer. There are beer pubs offering unique Czech pub fare, mostly comprising cheese varieties.-

Obložené chlebíčky (Garnished breads) is an appetizer similar to Spanish tapas. The platter may consist of butter, ham, or cheese, boiled egg or salads or spreads. It is usually decorated with pickled cucumber, tomato, red or yellow bell pepper, sliced radish or parsley.

Smazeny Syr (Fried cheese) comprises a slice of cheese (Edam or Hermelin) about 1 cm thick, coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and fried. Normally served with tartar sauce or ketchup.

Nakládaný Hermelin is a soft cheese marinated with pepper and onion in oil.

Pivní Sýr (beer cheese) is soft, mixed with raw onions and mustard, and spread on toast.

Czech cuisine has been influenced by the cuisines of neighbouring countries. Today there is an abundance of different types of meats such as lamb, chicken, pork and beef as compared to earlier when meat eating was a weekend treat. The Czech meals typically consist of two or more courses: the first is traditionally soup, the second is the main dish, and supplementary courses such as dessert or compote that may follow. My friend who is a great chef in Prague, educated me about traditional dishes, some mentioned below.

Dumplings (knedlíky): The highlight of Czech cuisine, they can be either wheat or potato based, and are sometimes made from a combination of wheat flour and stale bread or rolls (puffed rice can be found in store-prepared mixtures).

My favourite is the potato dumpling filled with smoked meat, spinach or sour cabbage served with sour cream and fried onions on the side.

Buckwheat (pohanka) and millet (jáhly): Not often served in restaurants although they are often cooked in homes as healthier options.

Pasta (těstoviny): Common either baked, cooked with other ingredients or served as a salad.

Bread (chléb or chleba): Traditionally sourdough baked from rye and wheat, flavoured with salt, cumin, onion, garlic, seeds or cracklings.

Rolls (rohlík), buns (žemle), and braided buns (houska): Common bread eaten for breakfast. Often topped with poppy and salt or seeds.

Loupák (sweet roll): A crescent-shaped roll made from sweet dough containing milk. It is smeared with egg and sprinkled with poppyseed before baking, of a golden-brown colour.

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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