It was a warm spring evening in Bangalore and we the Food Bloggers of Bangalore (FBAB) were hosted at Punjabi by Nature off Koramangala to devour some of their signature dishes with the best of wines from Fratelli.
The ambience was perfect for the evening; candle lit, cool breeze with generous servings of beer (Wheat, Green Apple, Stout) to set the tone. I am not much of a beer person; so with fast disappearing glasses of Stout; the Beer of the evening was pretty apparent.
Indian Food has been traditionally associated with chilled beer to cool down the heat from the spice of curries. Most Indian restaurants in foreign soil would have Indian beer on offer with the curries. Back home, alcoholic drinks were mainly associated with starters. Wine was never really served with Indian food until the last decade.
As the number of middle class Indians travelling to European shores went north, they slowly got a whiff of wine which until then appeared to be a little out of reach, a classy sophisticated drink served in clubs and up market restaurants in sparkling long stemmed glasses. With my feeble knowledge of wines, I broadly classified them into fruity Reds and Acidic Whites; and when Misha Dave, Wine Consultant from The Polished Thief, explained the nuances of the grapes, the preparation, oaking and flavouring the subtle differences between the array of whites and reds came to the fore.
The veg and non veg starters were marinated in yoghurt and host of spices ranging from turmeric, ginger, saffron, red masala etc and then cooked in the charcoal tandoor for that smoky flavour. The delicate pieces of Dahi ke Kabab (tawa fried hung curd patties) melted in the mouth, clearing the palate for the other. I helped myself with the charcoal grilled Tandoori Paneer, Tandoori Phool (cauliflower and broccoli), Amritsari Fish Tikka and Murgh Mali Kabab.
Generally, I reach out for that extra dash of lime on my starters to counter the raw spice but this time I sipped on Moulin de Gessac, Savignon Blanc (Languedoc-Roussillon, France) from the Sauvignon Blanc family. The pronounced aroma of lime and the acidic tone of the wine perfectly complemented the starters.
A sip of wine along with a bite of the super soft Amritsari Fish Tikka followed by the Tandoori Paneer brought about a lemony freshness as they melted on the tongue. Chicken Kasturi Kebab flavoured with Kasuri Methi also worked but may be better off with a slightly sweet red wine.
Meanwhile, I could not resist the mango margarita!! The semi ripe mangoes pulped with mint and ginger was a perfect filler while we waited for the main course.The main course comprised of Dal Makhani, Paneer Makhani, deep fried crispy Okra, and the signature Murgh Punjabi Masala and Meat (Lamb) Masala. Vina Edmaraa Pinot Noir was the choice all the way for the Murgh and Lamb Dishes. I dipped into the heavily spiced Murgh (Chicken) curry with a slice of butter naan and as it set my tongue on fire, Pinot Noir countered it with some sweetness and I did not have to reach out for water. The Pinot Noir from Chile that we were served had a tinge of rose flavour which went well with the food and most importantly its low alcohol content accentuated the taste. The vegetarian dishes both steeped in dollops of butter and cream were layered in flavours and while I sipped on Pinot Noir alongside, would definitely prefer the Sauvignon Blanc to add that acidic lemony zest. By the time the Fratelli’s Sangiovesi was served, I was nearly done with the main course. One whiff and the heavy fruitiness of the wine was pretty apparent and needless to say it was a winner with the heavily spiced meat masala. It cut through the heat of the red chilly, toning it down for the palate and accentuating the flavours of garam masala (concoction of mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, clove etc). The red wines with low alcohol content are ideal with spicy food. They seem to complement and bring out the best.
I love my desserts, its my soul food. The hot crunchy jalebi served with rich creamy rabdi was like dancing with fraternal twins!! both sweet; both delicious but with different characters. The closure of the evening was with sugary soft juicy gulab jamuns flambeed with rum and sprinkled with nutmeg.
At the end of the day; food and drink are very intimate to ones palate. Its highly unlikely that you will order different types of wine in one evening; and your choice will be probably dictated by the food you order. Like me if you are new to the world of wines; go with the 5 S’s Smell, Swirl, Sip, Savour, Swallow !! You will feel the real smell and taste (sweet, bitter, acidic) of wine once you let it linger in your mouth. The best wines are judged by clarity, brilliance and depth of color and let that guide you to the best.
The wine market in India has evolved in the last decade and Fratelli Wines broke into the scene a couple of years ago and managed to secure a prominent position in a market dominated by few brands. Fratelli meaning brothers is an Indo Italian joint venture of 3 sets of brothers who are committed to quality and consistency. The wine grapes are grown under close supervision in their vineyards in Akhluj, Maharashtra which ensures their consistent quality with producing the best of wines in clarity, brilliance and depth of color.
Thank You to the management of Punjabi by Nature for warmly taking care of us and our requests. Its a cosy place which belongs to the chain of Punjabi by Nature who pioneered and introduced multiple signature dishes to the Punjabi cuisine and also have a micro brewery. Be it a family outing or a romantic tete e tete or simply a boisterous friends night out, they can cater to everyone!!