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Updated: February 3, 2014 15:47 IST

Say hello to Mr. Bean

BHUMIKA K.
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Wake up and smell the coffee and other things as well, says Chef Paul. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
The Hindu Wake up and smell the coffee and other things as well, says Chef Paul. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

Chef Paul Neukirch wowed Bangalore, cooking food laced with coffee. He says all the interest in food shows and cooking is great, because more youngsters are treating it as a profession

Can’t really imagine rice being cooked with coffee beans to flavour a risotto! Or meat being braised with a coffee decoction infusion. But Chef Paul Neukirch showed an eager gathering at the recent India International Coffee Festival in Bangalore how coffee could go beyond being a beverage, and morph into food.

And one would think Chef Paul would know best about coffee. He’s German, and coffee courses in their veins. But chef Paul has settled in Malaysia for the last 15 years. He runs The Food Studio in Kuala Lampur where he teaches cooking and does food demos because he believes you can learn cooking, only by cooking it yourself! He’s also director of Culinary Training International that trains chefs, and sends young Malaysian chefs to Germany for further training.

In Bangalore for the first time, Paul had tried various Indian dishes from breakfast to dinner “though I can’t tell you the names because I can’t remember them” he shrugs. “I thought Indian cuisine was mostly roti, channa, dal and chicken curry. But the variety here is amazing,” he said, sitting down for a chat after his workshop. He’s just opened our eyes to how coffee can be used in food, whether it’s in a starter or a main course, and of course, dessert. Imagine a stew recipe that calls for a cup of coffee!

Chef Paul admits that there is a sudden hype about cooking as well as eating out like never before. “There are a lot of food shows on TV, and as a chef I am happy to see that youngsters want to be chefs, because most parents, like mine, ask ‘can’t you get a proper job?’ But people today know their food, they know where to buy ingredients. My guests at the studio know what they are looking for,” he says.

But he does agree that it’s a bit of a downfall, with cooking at home and eating together taking a beating. “It’s a social illness really…when we say we are too busy to cook. I see meals as a social event. I’m a bit old-fashioned and meals for me are family time,” he smiles.

He sees the increase in fast food offerings as an offshoot of people’s attitudes. “People tend to think cooking is complicated. Slow food for me is very important, but people lose focus easily…but fast food is really bad,” he says with a shiver, and a vigorous nodding of his head.

COOKING WITH COFFEE

Chef Paul Neukirch shares a few coffee-based recipes

Espresso Risotto

2 capers

Quarter cup espresso

5 cups chicken broth/vegetable both

2 Tsp olive oil

1 small onion cubed fine

1.5 cups risotto rice

Quarter cup white wine

Quarter cup grated parmesan

8 espresso beans

2 tsp unsalted butter

Salt Pepper

Chop the capers fine. Reduce espresso to 2 spoons. Heat up stock. Heat up olive oil and simmer onion to translucent. Add the rice and espresso beans. Add stock and boil rice up to 20 minutes, part by part.

Discard espresso beans.

Stir in butter and stock (if needed). Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with capers and reduced espresso and add cheese.

Robusta Crème Brule

1 cup strong espresso

4 egg yolk

40 g sugar

250 ml crème

Half vanilla pod

1 dash cinnamon

Mix egg yolks and sugar until creamy white. Pre heat oven until 150 c.

Add vanilla seed to eggs. Add cream. Pour in small ramekins.

Bake in waterbath for 25 minutes. Chill and garnish with grilled sugar

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