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It took a long period of intense decision-making. A few weeks ago, I attended a special evening at Fork and Fingers (an innovative Indian restaurant in Ascot Vale) where the owners sat down with some of their regular customers as well as beer reps from Hawkers and Hop Nation Brewing Co.
Other craft brewers who couldn't make it sent over contending beer selections based on the menus they had been emailed. It was an intense showdown where we worked as tasters matching beers with the dishes. The dead men (the count of empty bottles) rose.
We were given a sheet of paper where we were asked to mark up our favourite drops that went with each of the 10 stunning dishes.
And the dead men toll rose as the night progressed. Photo Fork and Fingers Facebook.
Gosh. We sampled at least four beers for each of the 10 dishes. You do the maths. How I wish I had thought to use Uber that night. My sips became increasingly dainty. It helped immensely that I am not normally a beer drinker.
But this was the night of my awakening. Indian cuisine might be famous for its hot flavours, but I discovered how a cooling beer draws out the exotic flavours and spices.
Between the six of us, we came up with our favourite beers for each dish. While we might have doubled up on some of our choices that were a lot of different beer options.
After the evening, one of Fork and Finger's owners, Ishupal Singh, narrowed down our choice to one beer per dish. One might call it Singh's Grand Final list.
So that was the process. And now the rest of Melbourne has the chance to replicate this event of food and beer pairings on Wednesday, July 18th at Fork and Fingers.
On the evening, you will be offered the same choice of ten entrees. These are sold for the exceptional price of only $10 for two dishes. Each dish will have a suggested craft beer pairing based on the intensive selection and elimination process that you now know went on beforehand.
These paired beers will also be sold at special prices.
You don't have to go with the final choices as there are other options such as Kingfisher on tap, wines and ciders. But let's say a lot of drinking in the name of research has gone into the beers being suggested.
Here are the courses and the suggested matching beers to whet your appetite and awaken your senses to this event.
The first menu item is Tandoori Chicken with mango salsa. This is succulent pickled chicken morsels slow roasted in a tandoor with mango creating a pleasingly sweet and sour accompaniment to the well-spiced chicken. It is attractively served with accompanying spoons of raita and pudina. The suggested beer is Hopnation's Jedi Juice NEIPA.
Seconding the list is beetroot lava panner tikka which is cubes of charred paneer with a marinade of garlic and beetroot topped with spiced slaw and a yoghurt dressing. The sweet and savoury hits in this dish make it a winner. Paired with Hawkers's XPA.
Goat cheese dahi kebab is a dish made from hung curd (yoghurt drained in a muslin bag) and shaped into Indian croquettes decked out with a flurry of garnishes. The suggested beer here is Public brewery's Red Falcon American Red.
Butter chicken lasagna is Fork and Finger's famous fusion dish and a local legend. It is melded layers of incredibly succulent pieces of butter chicken, with mushrooms and a touch of basil between soft layers of lasagna with a binding creamy tomato based sauce and herbs that twirl through this dish like an Indian/Italian romance. The beer for this showstopper is Hopnation's Dammed Pilsner.
@nadinecresswellmyatt Butter Chicken Lasagna
Then there is Goan fish curry. Cooked in a spicy sauce with tender fish and a richness throughout. This is perfectly matched with a Hawkers Pale Ale.
House Daal (Lentil Curry). I've been trying to replicate this dish all week in my kitchen. Slow cooked over 20 hours it has the look and almost the taste of molten chocolate. The suggested beer is Public Brewery's Funky Town American Brown.
Paneer Anjeer kofta. I can still remember the joy this dish brought. Paneer Anjeer Kofta is fig and cheese dumplings in fennel melt tomato sauce. Sink your teeth into these damsels with the burst of sweet surprises from the figs. The recommendation on this one is Hawkers's Yakima.
Goat Laal maas is a fiery Rajasthani curry of goat cooked in a variety of masalas with a bursting flare of red chillies. Hot! To cool down the recommendation is a Hawkers's West coast Hawkers IPA.
Beef vindaloo tacos. This is a Tex Mex fusion with vindaloo. The slowly simmered slight spiciness of the curry contrast delightfully with the coolness of the raita. You can enjoy it with a Bad Sheppard New World IPA.