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Story by Dave DeWitt
Food photos by Tony Le Duc
Cassoulet de Fruits de Mer
(Curried Seafood Stew)
(Chicken in a Creamy Red Sauce)
Goan Pork Vindaloo
Mirichi ka Salan
(Mild Chiles in a Nutty Sauce)
||A delectable dessert sampler at Porte des Indes
Pat Chapman, the King of Curries and England’s foremost authority on Indian cuisine, had decided to take Mary Jane and me to the best Indian restaurant in the U.K. So he and his wife Dominque picked us up at the hotel and in fifteen minutes we were inside the gorgeous Porte des Indes, the only Indian restaurant to win the Best Restaurant award twice, beating more than 8,500 other competitors. The head chef, Mehernosh Mody, dropped by our table three times, and during his first visit decided that he would order his favorite dishes for us and we, of course, agreed enthusiastically.
|A typical street scene in Pondicherry (Puducherry). Photo courtesy of Flikr user Melanie-m.
||Temple elephant greets passersby. Photo by Adam Jones adamjones.freeservers.com
French Cuisine in India?
It is not commonly known that France had a colony in India—Pondicherry, south of Madras on the eastern coast—from 1670 to 1954, minus a few years because of seizures by the British. In 2006 the region was renamed Puducherry (the name it had prior to foreign rule). Pondy, as the city is nicknamed, developed a cuisine that is a fascinating combination of classic French dishes with the spices and techniques of southern Indian cooking. So bouillabaisse, the seafood chowder, is transformed by chiles, ginger, coriander, cumin, and turmeric into Cassoulet de Fruits de Mer, while a simple French roasted poulet, or young chicken, is curried with masala powder and enriched with yogurt and double cream. Even the famed French lamb chops are treated to chiles, masala, cardamom, and mace and become Adrak ke Panje when they are grilled outside on the barbecue.
This map portrays Pondicherry during the French colonial occupation.
Courtesy of Blue Elephant Group
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