With the chicken korma now practically a national dish in the UK, British curiosity about Indian cuisine is naturally growing, with more and more specialist ingredients and recipe books available by the minute. Rick Stein provides a charming mixture of both cultures by taking his knowledge of the Cornish fishing scene on a tour of the vast and diverse country of India, particularly delighting in the nation’s range of seafood dishes. Naturally, to encourage viewers to purchase the series’ accompanying book, not all of the recipes used in the programmes are well-documented: while some are available on the BBC website, others will need to be scribbled down quickly and approximately if you wish to try them at home (we’ll be putting the chicken and barberries through its paces tonight).
Stein approaches with an open mind all of the areas and cuisines that he experiences, showing great interest in the regionally varied methods of cooking and eating without being patronising. The recipes and landscapes shown are equally varied: beaches befitting Florida and zen riversides evoking Japan are all displayed alongside the more stereotypical images of crowded slums and affluent Pondicherry, enticing the viewer to visit. Equally, despite Rick Stein’s prominence as presenter, the food focused on is not limited to fish. While many Indian people, in several different regions, consider the cow to be a sacred creature, meaning that beef recipes are less common, Stein has already explored several principal ingredients, including vegetarian main courses as well as chicken, squid, prawns and pork.
One criticism from those with a sweet tooth may be the lack of desserts featured thus far. A lassi stall was visited, and a milk pudding was also made on screen. This all makes for rather slim pickings for pudding fans; however, with only three episodes aired so far out of six, there are still opportunities for this.
On the whole, the episodes are varied, interesting, and full of colour and flavour. Viewers can look forward to seeing more beef recipes (and, with luck, more dessert recipes) as Rick changes regions, and with the passage of time, fans can also anticipate the acquistion on their part of an even fuller knowledge of India as the experienced presenter continues to debunk myths, tour a country of promise, and cook delicious food.