We've heard of wine pairings, but beer, it turns out, can be gorgeously paired with more things than just buffalo wings and fries. "Especially when it comes to Indian food, beer is a perfect match," says Dhanraj Shinde, owner, Kaitlyn's Beer Garden, a recently-launched beer concept garden restaurant in Mumbai.
Now seems to be an even better time to experiment. Even though India's reputation as a whisky-loving nation holds strong, the beer market in India appears to be on an upswing. Especially if this recent report by IANS is anything to go by: "the beer market is the fastest growing alcohol segment in India by consumption and revenue change, especially with the entry of microbreweries about five years ago," Debjeet Banerjee, who manages the Lagom Kitchen and Brewery in Gurgaon and the Hype nightclub in south Delhi, told IANS.
If you're in the mood to experiment, here's some excellent news: Craft beers pair excellently with most Indian foods, thanks to the cuisine's smart use of heat and spices. Be it a spicy Goan curry or succulent koftas, the classic tandoori items or even pakodas, they can all be washed down with the right beer. Here are five craft beers that are easily available across the country with five excellent Indian meals to start you off.
Bhuna Chicken with Hefeweizen
"Hefeweizen produces crazy flavours and aromas during fermentation," reveals Shinde. "You can get the aroma of banana and bubblegum balanced with the aroma of clove." With a high ratio of wheat (over 50 per cent), this South German beer is versatile when it comes to being paired with food. It won't overpower salads, but will also complement cured meats, sausages and hams or even bacon-flavoured cheeses. Roast chicken gravies, like bhuna chicken also work well with this beer.
Check out this excellent recipe for bhuna chicken by yummyindiankitchen.com.
Ghosht Hara Masala with Indian Pale Ale
The first thing you must know about Indian Pale Ale is that it doesn't hail from India! "This hoppy beer has bold flavours that pair well with dishes that have a bit of heat, and others that are strongly spiced (tamarind, cinnamon, cardamom), making it perfect for a lot of Indian entrees or main meals," says Shinde. Its bitter finish and thick feel in the mouth goes well with aromatic Thai curries (that use lemongrass and coriander) or even Goan curries, and salty, fatty foods as well such as burgers or pakodas (the hops pair well with ghee). "Ghosht, a rich meat when cooked in a herby sauce with a bit of heat makes for the perfect Indian dish to pair with an Indian pale ale," says Shinde.
Try out Sanjeev Kapoor's excellent tips for a yummy ghosht hara masala.
Murgh Malvani With Kolsch
"Locally brewed in Cologne, Germany, Kolsch is a pale beer, and features a slightly fruity flavour," says Shinde. The all-barley beer's sweeter notes serve as the perfect foil to spicy Indian dishes. It also holds well with crispy fried dishes and soft, nutty cheeses. "Try pairing it with peri peri chicken wings, crispy chicken, lasooni chicken tikka," recommends Shinde. "For vegetarians, paneer shashlik is a good option."
If you're wondering how to produce a malvani style chicken curry, check out this recipe on jopreetskitchen.com
Paneer Tikka Masala With Belgian witbier
"Popularly served with a slice of Malta orange, and with a soft acidic punch, this type of beer is a real thirst quencher," says Shinde. These golden beers with a large head of foam have a tangy yet creamy taste with a hint of a spice or herb (often coriander). They pair excellently with mildly spiced dishes such as a paneer tikka masala, and complement seafood as well.
Here's a step-by-step process by Vegrecipesofindia.com on how to prepare paneer tikka masala.
Sabzi Dilkhush With Stout
A strong and dark beer, stout is made from roasted barley (or malt), hops, water and yeast. "It is flavoured with cream, oats and coffee," says Shinde. "Stout should be paired with continental dishes which are not spicy and on the milder side -- mixed vegetables are an excellent option." Chicken chettinad, and tandoori dishes are other excellent options. For those who enjoy their dessert, pair this beer with some chocolate-based preparations like brownies.
Here's a paneer dilkhush recipe by mapsofindia.com that can be reproduced using a mix of vegetables or potatoes.
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