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G20 Kitchen: Namaste! A taste of India in Beijing


08-26-2016 12:54 BJT

Full coverage: G20 Hangzhou Summit

Among the 20 major economies, we pick 5 colorful and tasty cuisines that can be enjoyed in China's increasingly cosmopolitan capital city. Food is something that unites these very diverse nations despite their political differences. The Indian subcontinent is a mosaic of spices, colors and flavors. Indian cooking, with its fusion of ingredients and intoxicating aromas is now increasingly available in far away Beijing. And as our reporter Martina Fuchs discovers, the food is as exciting and colorful as the country's Bollywood movie industry.
Re-connecting the ancient Silk Road between India and China. Indian cooking is a universe of spices spreading around the world. And it has made inroads in Beijing in recent years, with more and more Indian restaurants opening their doors.

The cuisine uses a blend of spices including curry leaves, tamarind, coriander, ginger, garlic, chili, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, and thousands more.

"In Indian cuisine, the highlight is the variety of the spices it brings. Each spice, there are more than 60 spices, and each dish has at least 8 to 9 spices, a combination which is quite diverse, and that brings out the aroma and the different aroma, the spicy flavor, the cashews, and cardamom, bay leaves," Laxman Hemnani, director of Ganges Indian Restaurant, said.

The chef says, whether you like Indian food hot or mild - don't worry! He can cook it all up for you.

"Many people, Chinese people coming say "I don't need spicy", I say "okay no problem, I can do," Chef of Ganges Indian Restaurant Pratap Singh Panwar said.

At a cooking school hidden in a Beijing hutong, the culinary expert shares her impressions.

"I think the fact that there is no unique dish, each dish is made up of all these dozens, multiple spices. What is really interesting is that most of these spices aren't even indigenous to India. They have sort of come through from trade," Michelle Tang, culinary expert with The Hutong, said.

Tandoori chicken is probably the most popular food in Indian kitchens. Chicken pieces are marinated in a mix of yoghurt and spices to make them more tender and give a rich flavor.

They are then put on a skewer and barbequed in a cylindrical clay oven, called a tandoor - that's where the name of the dish comes from.

Next up on today's menu is a chicken tikka masala, a dish of roasted chicken pieces cooked in a thick gravy of yoghurt and again - a mix of spices.
Some have even been labeled "Indian Superspices", thanks to their health benefits and anti-oxidising power.

"Oh yes, turmeric is a very terrific spice, anti-cancer, it is anti-inflammatory, if somebody takes turmeric, over a period of time, 20 years, 15 years, the cells are anti-cancer. Cardamom lowers the blood pressure, the cloves lower the blood pressure, garlic is excellent for cardiovascular long-term benefits," Hemnani said.

Last but not least, bread like this freshly baked garlic naan serves as an accompaniment in an Indian meal. This one is made with garlic, but butter, chilli or paneer cheese can also be used. All this proves that Indian food is highly labor-intensive, and the guests, they love it all the more.

In this restaurant alone, the menu contains more than 300 items.

"It's not just stereotyped into one box, very similar to China. There are all sorts of provincial Indian foods, so if you go to Northern India or Southern India, it's a whole new world. That's why it's an amazing culinary adventure when you go and eat Indian food,"  Tang said.

It delights all 5 senses.

Indian food is even better than a Bollywood movie. The action is hot, your stomach will dance, your heart will sing, and your eyes will smile.

Even in far away Beijing. The phrase "Incredible India" is legitimate. 

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