They say: speak English, kiss French, drive German and dress Italian – but with many countries adopting the Spanish Tapas culture, ‘eat Spanish’ is likely to be added to the adage soon. Tapas in Spain is not just food, but indeed a culture. It is a way in which the Spanish enjoy the company of their friends and loved ones over drinks and tapas – which are essentially small food servings that accompany a drink.
It offers a great opportunity to experience Spanish gastronomy since one can enjoy a wide range of dishes in small quantities. Owing to its popularity, a host of restaurants in India have begun celebrating the Tapas culture by introducing a specially curated Tapas menu which includes small snacks accompanied by drinks to be enjoyed with friends and family for a long time.
Legend has it that Tapas custom began when the bar keepers in the 13th century (under King Alfonso X ‘The Wise’ of Castile’s rule), began covering their customers' drinks with a slice of bread, ham or cheese to stop flies and dust from entering. ‘Tapa’ literally means an appetiser or snack in Spanish.
In Delhi, chef Ankur Gulati of Sevilla, The Claridges put together a 10-day special menu to celebrate the culture.
Chef Ankur Gulati, executive chef, of The Claridges, New Delhi agrees that there is a deep curiosity among Indians to indulge in Tapas culture. They have a penchant for experiencing different cuisines and exploring diverse palates, making it a popular choice among many restaurants, he says. He calls the Indian palate ‘exploratory’ and says the guests are always open to experimenting with international cuisines and seek to savour the true essence of diverse culinary traditions.
According to him, the Spanish Embassy provided their expertise and guidance and with their assistance; dishes that authentically represent the essence of Spanish cuisine were curated.
The set menu at the restaurant features patata bravas, shallow-fried potato smothered in a smoked pepper mojo, Hongos, wild mushroom croquettes served with garlic aioli, while the pimientos del piquillo rellenos de queso offers a blend of goat cheese-filled Spanish green pepper fritters. For seafood enthusiasts, the pan-roasted prawns with garlic, chilli, and fresh thyme, known as gambas, makes its place on the menu. The main course options include Cochin sea bass with seasonal vegetables, confit Potato, and lemon caper sauce, Josper grilled New Zealand lamb loin with ratatouille and lamb jus, and so on.
For a sweet conclusion to the menu, the traditional tiramisu or the Spanish saffron-infused crema catalana, an irresistible custard flavoured with saffron and a hint of cinnamon, topped with caramelised sugar, delight the visitors.
The most popular dish from their menu remains the patata bravas and the delectable green peppers filled with goat cheese.
Seeing a positive response to the menu, Sevilla is likely to collaborate with the Spanish Embassy on an annual basis to celebrate World Tapas Day and its culture, informs the chef.
The 10-day special Tapas experience at Sevilla, The Claridges, New Delhi ends on June 20th. The Tapas menu was curated by Sevilla in collaboration with Spain Tourism Office in India to celebrate the Tapas culture.