Qatari chef revives spice link with India

 28 Sep 2016 - 13:31

Qatari chef revives spice link with India
Qatari Chef Aisha Al Tamimi prepares a dish at the International Culinary Festival and Competition in Kochi, India.

The Peninsula

The International Culinary Festival and Competition was held under the auspices of reviving the Ancient Spice Route, at Bolgatty Palace Hotel in Kochi in India’s Kerala state from September 23 to 26.

The recent archaeological discovery of the legendary ancient port of Muziris (the main centre of Spice Route that had disappeared from history since 1341), has revealed evidence of active exchange between Kerala with 31 countries across the globe from Far East to Europe, Africa and the Arabian world.

UNESCO has signed an agreement with the Department of Tourism of the Government of Kerala to promote intercultural dialogue between these countries through the revival of Ancient Spice Route, thus reconnecting India with the world to mutually promote the history and heritage of Spice Route through joint research, heritage project and cultural activities.

The worldwide competition will include a challenge between gourmet specialists from the Spice Route countries like Qatar, Italy, Portugal, Oman, Netherlands, France, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Spain, Egypt, Japan, Lebanon, Iran, Germany, Turkey.

Traditional fusion cuisines based on the spice theme was the highlight of the occasion. The winning contestant and two runners-up will be congratulated amid the culinary celebrations valedictory session. Held under the patronage of the Spice Route project, the culinary festival is a first-of-its-kind celebration of flavours and alliance that will see the participating countries experience Kerala’s cultural heritage and gastronomic offerings besides participating in culinary demonstrations and cooking discussions.

Chef Aisha Al Tamimi from Qatar discovered plenty of similarities between her ethnic food and Kerala’s traditional dishes. “Probably because most of our spices are imported from Kerala,” says Chef Aisha.

The chef and her team from Qatar also promoted Qatari traditions and culture in the Ancient Spice Route Culinary Festival which was well received and highly nappreciated by all participants and embassy delegates.

“Al Zubarah port in Qatar was an international trading centre since the 18th century, which included trading in various commodities such as pearls and spices. The flavours in Qatari cuisine, which uses a variety of aromatic spices, is a clear indication of this cultural exchange, which needs to be revived,” says Abitha John, Research Consultant, UNESCO – Italy.

UNESCO sees the historical trading relations with the rest of the world as a tremendous opportunity for building international cultural relations and an opportunity of expanding global cultural relations following the ‘Spice Trade Route’ with some of the oldest and culturally rich countries of the world and a focus on promoting cultural tourism.