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A taste of Sweden in India

The Consulate General of Sweden hosted a food demonstration and tasting session with renowned Swedish Nobel Chefs Mark Phoenix and Fredrik Forsell. Speaking about the diversity of Swedish cuisine, Consul Jan Campbell-Westlind said: “Swedish food has become immensely popular internationally and I hope our efforts to bring a bit of it to India will inspire people to try their hand at Swedish food and appreciate the diversity of Swedish culture.”

The chefs, who have been in charge of the preparations for the prestigious Nobel Dinner Banquet — the culinary showcase after the Nobel Prize ceremony — cooked with flair. They prepared the traditional Swedish Fika-Kanelbullar that’s similar to a cinnamon roll. Fika literally translates to “to have coffee” and comprises coffee, tea, juice and baked goods.

This was followed by a dinner that was inspired by the Nobel dinner of 1968. In an interview, the chefs talk about Swedish cuisine, the Nobel dinner and cooking in India.

Excerpts:

What is the significance of the Nobel dinner?

Mark & Fredrik: The Nobel Banquet is a celebration of the great minds that have won the Nobel prizes, and is very significant. It is in honour of the creator of the Nobel prizes, Alfred Nobel. Only 1,300 invited guests can be seated at the Blue Hall of the City Hall of Stockholm where the Banquet has been held since 1934. During the first decades, ‘consommé’ or a clear soup like ‘Tortue Claire’ was the common starter. Today, the guiding principle is that the menus should have a touch of Scandinavia.

What elements did you incorporate into the meal prepared at the Mumbai event?

M&F: The Mumbai event was a recreation of the Nobel menu from 1968, seafood to start, followed by a rustic lamb saddle and earthy autumn vegetables. Starter: avocado and tiger prawns with gourmet sauce. Main course: saddle of lamb with Madeira jus and Waldorf Salad. Dessert: Pineapple parfait with petits fours.

How would you say has Swedish cuisine evolved over the years?

M: Well, in my last 22 years in Sweden it is clear that Swedish cuisine has become more sophisticated; it travels well in Europe too, and is well known. Swedes eat a lot of seafood and root vegetables. But the trend that I see today is that people are now opting for organic and local produce. Swedes are becoming more keen about knowing where the food is coming from. In a nutshell the trend is leaning towards organic and healthy locally produced food.

What are some of the Swedish staples?

M&F: Sweden is a big pork consuming nation, as well as fish/shellfish of course. Hearty stews and soups, sausages, and potatoes in all shapes and forms.

What is the response you get when cooking Swedish food for Indians?

M: We always get a mixed response to Swedish food in India. I find that those Indians that are well travelled enjoy the cuisine a bit more. Swedish cuisine popularity is on the rise internationally but we are now here in India to increase awareness and give India a taste of Sweden.

Any Indian food items that you like?

M: We love Indian cuisine, it's difficult to choose, but we would say Dosa, Rogan Josh, Murgh Tikka and Dal Mahkani top our list.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 5:48:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/interview-with-the-chefs-who-prepare-the-nobel-dinner/article7806701.ece

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