I spotted an article recently about the theory of food pairing. Originated by popular chef Heston Blumenthal and Francois Benzi, described as a ‘flavour chemist’, it argues that food with matching flavour molecules combine to make the tastiest food.
Apparently an average food ingredient contains some 50 matching flavour molecules while complex substances such as red wine may contain over a thousand.
It is argued that the two main factors that combine to produce a dish’s flavour are ingredients and technique. Ingredients can be divided into two groups, ‘quiet’ ingredients such as butter, milk, paneer and rice and ‘loud’ ones which include chillies, horseradish, rosemary and tarragon.
Quiet ingredients are naturally complementary with one another whilst loud ones tend to clash with other loud ingredients. However that does not explain how dishes containing say chicken, carrots and onions can taste so different depending on their country of origin.
This is due to the secondary and tertiary ingredients and this is where Indian food comes into its own. The ingredients that give these dishes their distinctive flavours are the herbs, spices and other flavourings used in their preparation.
Indian cooking incorporates pungent ingredients with subtle molecular differences that make it different to Western cuisine. Their recipes are often paired negatively which is only exacerbated by the introduction of spices such as tamarind and garam masala.
Despite the somewhat baffling science, we think that our Indian food taste good just because it does, so there! You won’t find our chefs busily counting flavour molecules or worrying about negative pairings. They have had years of making some of the tastiest Indian cuisine in Gloucester so we are happy that they know exactly what they are doing.