Last month’s Hilton Brisbane Masterclass Weekend included a Hilton room with chefs from Auckland, Cairns, Beijing Wangfujing (there are three Hiltons in Beijing), Sydney and Kuala Lumpur Hilton hotels.

A very commanding man, tall in stature and demure in voice was the Indian chef Latchuman Supramaniam who demonstrated curry preparations to Masterclass attendees.

Alongside Latchuman was the Purple Palate’s Darren Davis, essentially a Barossa Valley devotee making wine pairings for Southern Indian curry influences-machili samosa (salmon puree masala filling), idli (steamed domes of rice/lentil dumplings) with koli kulambu (chicken gravy/curry) and meen moilee (fragrant barramundi in set coconut cream curry).

Darren emphasised that curry dishes containing sweetness, high spice, high bitterness and high astringency will do the following: dumb down light fruit flavours, make wines high in astringency, high alcohol and high oak hard to swallow due to the food component-wine component duel of tastes. Put simply pairing wines with curry takes some analysis and a bit of skill which Darren showed really well.

With salmon samosas Darren paired Greystone (NZ) Gewurztraminer 2009 from Waipara (90), great perfume but even better a spicy palate to carry the curry herbs, at 18.7 g/l residual sugar, though in this match it tasted dry.

With chicken curry (Koli Kulambu) Darren matched Smallfry Barossa Riesling 2010 (89), nice limey nose and a great belt of acidity which is absolutely fundamental with curry, as acidity keeps your mouth fresh when the wine and chicken curry mix up, better with 17 g/l residual sugar.

With the Kerala-style fish curry, Darren chose two more forceful wines, Massena Surly Muse Viognier 2009 (88) from the Barossa, a great slippery palate, low oak, yet poised and punchy, able to withstand the ginger, chillis and mustard in the curry.

The second complement was Cirillo 1850′s Grenache Rose 2009 (90), a lovely petal-pink Barossa drink, cherry-fruited, with yummy fruit sweetness, off dry wine, which carried the curry flavours right through to the last swallow.

I caught up with Latchuman afterwards to hear more about his cultural passion and a little more about Indian curry culture.

How long have you been a chef? 20 years

And was it your first profession? Yes

Have you always cooked regional Indian? Yes have always cooked Indian food but I also specialise in Malaysian cuisine

List two or three of your favourite curry spices and why do they do something for you? Cumin, coriander, chillis, fenugreek, these spices compliment my cooking style

What is your birth region and the curry styles from that area? My father is from southern India but I was born in Malaysia, my curry styles range from northern to southern India

In contemporary Indian cuisine are curries the ultimate experience or do you consider suites of other dishes to be important? Curries are important to Indian cuisine and we are always looking to expand to other cooking styles and methods, it’s important to do that

Do you have your own personal “fusion” recipes? I’m currently working on that at the moment but I try to stay authentic to my Indian food

At Hilton Kuala Lumpur what do you supervise ? I am in charge of the Indian restaurant at the hotel

Prior to 2004 were you a chef in 5 star properties or standalone restaurants? I previously worked at Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa in Malaysia

How have the pre-2004 experience influenced your cooking today? I was travelling through France for Malaysian food promotions and found it very inspiring

When you demonstrated at Brisbane Hilton Masterclass what do you think the audience took home most strongly? Guests learnt about Indian recipes and methods of cooking. In Western and Chinese cuisine you learn about making the sauces and separating them from the main dish, in Indian its more about the braising of the meat

In your homeland, hot dishes (high chilli heat) are well accepted; in Brisbane generally this is not the case amongst Australians (ethnicity taken out); how would you modify your cooking for a difference audience but still remain authentic? In my sessions I follow the original recipe, if the dish is too spicy you can add cream or tomato paste to balance the dish and you can then tone down the spices

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