By Dikshali Shah
It wasn’t exactly an authentic Italian pizza, but not an Indian one either. In fact, one of my friends coined the cuisine at Blue Zenzer as ‘Indo-Italian’ which to me sounded like a miserable clash of flavours and spices. Fusion fare has become increasingly popular amongst foodies in recent years, perhaps in the name of novelty rather than good taste. However, Blue Ginger, the restaurant and cocktail bar that is part of the same chain as Blue Zenzer provides Thai and Indo-Chinese food that I think works very well – it is innovative and creative by virtue of blending Eastern styles and culinary practices. But what happens when you combine Indian and European? When you have a typical Giardiniera pizza with a paneer and chilli or a curried vegetable topping? A strange mix, albeit very tasty, however do you lose the Italian traits with the overbearing Indian flavours?
Rohan, the manager at Blue Zenzer tells me that all the toppings: paneer, chicken, chilli and coriander for these fusion pizzas are initially cooked like a curry. He says that the numerous local Indian restaurants encouraged him to provide customers with something more unique; and there’s no doubt that Blue Zenzer is highly original on the north west London restaurant scene.
Some do not venture thus far when faced with the dilemma of Indo-Italian. Indian celebrity chef Ritu Dalmia opened her café in 2011 in New Delhi, cooking up a no-frills Neapolitan menu, encouraging Delhiites to try a very authentic Italian menu that still also included white wines sourced from Friuli and a more expensive red wine from Piedmont for those with more refined tastes. Blue Zenzer similarly caters for a large concentration of Indian residents in north west London by instead creating a somewhat eclectic menu, radically mixing palates and offering Italian food that does not stray too far from a customary Indian dining menu. A significant Indian migration to Italy in recent years is slowly changing the food scene and it seems as if we have now reached a ‘been there, done that’ stage. I’m dead serious; we’ve also been scandalous and made a curry-inspired macaroni at home. Saag paneer ravioli anyone?