CELEBRITY chefs Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh make up The Incredible Spicemen, who are on a mission to encourage Britons to experiment with Indian spices. Known for their bland cuisine but rather eclectic palates, the duo go about changing tastes. From Indianising fish and chips in East Sussex with some lime, ginger and spice marinade to adding cardamom to traditional Scottish dessert, carnachan, in Edinburgh, the duo is met with apprehension but they quickly find favour with the people they come across on their travels across the British Isles.
“So the whole idea was to make spices accessible to every house in Britain. What we did was, we took Brit classics and spiced them up a little bit, so we were attempting to spice up Britain,” says Todiwala. “We travelled across Britain, going to farms, and different producers, taking what is typically local and then adding a spicy twist. That was the idea behind the show. And essentially, it’s not really an Indian, but in fact a British food program,” he elaborates.
An experienced chef who headed Taj Holiday Village, The Fort Aguada Beach Resort and the Aguada Hermitage in Goa before moving to Australia and eventually to London, Todiwala brings on board a thorough knowledge of the health benefits and the traditional usage of spice, while Singh, whose background is in French cuisine, is an expert in cooking all that is modern and fun.
Taking great pride in India’s culinary traditions, Todiwala aims to make Indian food appear less daunting and intimidating to prepare for amateurs. “Britishers’ understanding of Indian food is definitely getting better since I came to Britain. Because they are travelling so much more, their senses are expanding and they’re becoming more discerning. But it is a casual change. People still think our food is so hot that it will kill you,” he explains. Starts August 23. Saturdays at 8 pm on TLC
■ Memorable experiences
Cooking at the Women’s Institute. These people are known for their baking and their chutneys and traditional food. We transformed their afternoon tea and it was great.
■ Indian food in the UK
The whole belief that Indian food will blow the roof of your mouth is slowly disappearing. People are understanding. The food is vibrant, fresh, fun and the way it is going I think people really get it.There are more regional restaurants here now instead of the regular North Indian joints, like Southern and Central Indian. Indian chefs are being more true to themselves, and the rich heritage that we have.
■ Off the camera
I have just taken ownership of The Old Bake House restaurant, which is a 17th century Bake House in West Linton.