International Chef Exchange: Curry Leaf Café at restaurant Basaal in Den Haag

by • November 28, 2016 • International Chef ExchangeComments (0)279

Chef Kanthi Kiran Thamma and junior chef Roman Mikulica of Brighton’s award-winning Curry Leaf Café headed to the Dutch city of The Hague for an international chef exchange at restaurant Basaal on Monday 21 November.

The Brighton chefs showcased a six course tasting menu of dishes from Kanthi’s native home region of Hyderabad in southern India including chilli paneer salad, Keralan spiced fish in banana leaf and slow-cooked venison sheermal.

“I’ve visited The Hague a couple of times but this is my first time cooking for the Dutch market”, said Kanthi. “The dinner went down very well with our guests with some of them experiencing authentic Indian food for the very first time. And, of course, working with the Basaal team was a hugely enjoyable experience”.

Gin from the Blackdown distillery in West Sussex was served with rose petal and pink peppercorn as a welcome drink, with English wines from Ridgeview and Gusbourne estates and a selection of Dutch craft beers accompanying the meal.

Restaurant Basaal is one of The Hague’s leading restaurants, presenting seasonal, regional produce in a daily changing menu. Highly regarded in the Nederlands Eurotoque awards earlier this year, the restaurant is also recognised with a Michelin Bib Gourmand.

“Authentic Indian food is a rarity in the Netherlands”, said head chef and proprietor of restaurant Basaal, Bas Oonk. “Our ethnic cuisine is reflected by our colonial past so Indonesian food is far more common than Indian food, however the Dutch did have outposts in India so there is some culinary heritage that Kanthi has been able to draw on.”

His Excellency Mr J.S. Mukul, Indian ambassador to the Netherlands, joined the dinner and congratulated the chefs on the meal and the cultural ties between the countries.

International Chef Exchange is an initiative created by the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival team to share best practice between chefs, raise awareness of reciprocal gastronomic tourism destinations, and promote artisanal food and drink products in international markets. Earlier exchanges were filmed by Latest TV and have recently been made available on Amazon Prime in the USA.

Festival director Nick Mosley said, “This is our last international chef exchange of the year but we’ve plenty of exciting partnerships to showcase Brighton and surrounding Sussex globally next year including at the Gothenburg food festival in Sweden, in the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, and at the Cap Maison resort in St Lucia with Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees. It’s gratifying to have food destinations around the world not only aware of the strong gastronomic offering of our region but also actively wanting to work with the festival, and our talented chefs and food and drink producers”.

Kanthi and business partner Euan Sey will be opening a further Brighton restaurant in Kemp Town early next year, offering a chef’s table concept and Curry Leaf Café home delivery. Bas Oonk will be creating a Indo-Dutch menu at the new venue as part of the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival in May 2017.


An explosion of textures, flavours and spices that’s the perfect way to kick start an Indian banquet. Black pepper, Masala and Madras mini poppadoms topped with chickpea chaat, herbs, tamarind sauce, coriander and pomegranate seeds

This dish typifies the Dutch traders’ influence on South Indian cooking during the spice trade. Potato and prawn croquette spiced with ginger, curry leaves, coriander, chilli and fennel, coated in Panko breadcrumbs and fried until crisp. Served with red cabbage & samphire thoran and a tomato & ginger chutney

Chilli Paneer is one of the most celebrated dishes to come from the Indo-Chinese street food trend that kicked off in 1980s India. Cubes of Punjabi cottage cheese coated in light yet highly spiced rice & cornflour batter, crisp-fried and served on a bed of local mixed leaves & cherry tomatoes topped with a chilli & mango dressing

This dish comes from the royal kitchens of Hyderabad, where Chef Kanthi hails from.
24-hour marinated Dutch venison shoulder slow-cooked in a sealed pot then finished off with brown onion paste and yoghurt. Served on cumin-flavoured Sheermal bread

Another coastline colonised by the Dutch was Malabar – home to the culinary giant that is Kerala, where this classic dish comes from. Locally caught red gurnard fillets are coated with minced shallot, tomato, chilli and ginger, then wrapped in banana leaf and baked in the oven.
Served with curry leaf rice and potato & Dutch pepper podi mas

This unusual dessert uses flavours commonly used in South India to create something light, modern and refreshing. Grilled pineapple slices glazed with Dutch red chilles & jaggery syrup, and served with coconut & lime sorbet and mango lassi

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