The Sipsmith Blog

Gin and Food Pairings: An Interview with Gymkhana’s Executive Chef

in Articles April 1, 2016

Step aside, wine – we spoke with Gymkhana’s Michelin starred Executive Chef, Rohit Ghai, about why gin and food pairings are a must-try.

Though there’s nothing we enjoy quite as much as a gin aperitif (or digestif), it’s time to invite gin to the main event. Yes – gin deserves a place on the dinner table. For advice about springy gin and food pairings – not to mention a good bit of spice – we chatted with Gymkhana’s Executive Chef Rohit Ghai. He’s come up with some very tempting pairing suggestions.

And speaking of gin and food pairings: we’ll also be co-hosting a five-course dinner at Gymkhana on 3rd May. Do join us for some of Ghai’s most exquisite dishes alongside an array of Sipsmith cocktails – it should be quite the treat.

Sipsmith: For many diners, the idea of pairing food with gin is still unusual. How did you come to this idea?

Rohit Ghai: “At Gymkhana, we always want to push the boundaries and banish the idea that Indian food can only be paired with beer. Beyond that however, gin was actually a common tipple among the East India Company soldiers during India’s colonial rule. The soldiers drank quinine tonic to shield them from malaria, but traditionally this was very bitter so it was mixed with gin and thus the famous G&T was born. The Sipsmith dinner is one opportunity for us to educate guests on the historical connection to gin and its links to India, while also demonstrating how well the spirit complements Indian food specifically.”

Slow-cooked Indian spiced spring lamb shanks with berries is an excellent pairing with gin.

What qualities does gin have that make it food-friendly?

“Gin has so many different flavour profiles that it can be very versatile when pairing with food. The botanicals used in gin actually lend themselves very well to being paired with the variety of spices we use in Indian cooking.”

For those who are planning a gin-pairing dinner in the spring, which seasonal food pairings would you recommend?

“Slow-cooked Indian spiced spring lamb shanks with berries is an excellent pairing with gin, and also works well for sharing around the table for the whole family.”

Which foods do you believe would work well with Sipsmith’s flavour profile?

“It’s all about experimenting, I think, but I’ve found that Sipsmith London Dry Gin goes particularly well with seafood, like the Amritsari Shrimp & Queenies with Dill Chutney that we serve at Gymkhana.”

I think the best piece of advice is a simple one. Taste as you go to ensure the flavours go well together!

Is heavily spiced food tricky to pair with gin, in your opinion?

“It depends. We always have to play around with the dishes we serve in order to get the right spice level and flavours. Indian dishes are complex in their flavour combinations, but pairing gin with the food is no more difficult that pairing whisky or wine.”

Can you give us any sneak previews of what you have planned for the upcoming Sipsmith dinner on 3rd May?

“For the upcoming dinner we have a number of signature Gymkhana dishes on the menu, so guests can look forward to our Wild Muntjac Biryani and the Ceylon Jheenga Curry as well as some seasonal off menu additions such as Tandoori Scallops and Masala Parsnips.”

For home cooks and bartenders looking to put together their own gin pairing dinner party menu, do you have any general pairing principles or tips you can share?

“I think the best piece of advice is a simple one. Taste as you go to ensure the flavours go well together!”

Feature images © Gymkhana

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