Aside from their love of sailing the high seas, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Qingdao round the world crew member Lawrence Lingard share another big passion in life – Indian cuisine.
Sir Robin’s love affair with India started when he moved to Bombay in 1960, during his career with the Merchant Navy. He started building Suhaili there in 1963, the boat that he completed the first ever, non-stop, single handed round the world circumnavigation on in 1968/69. He then departed India when the boat was completed in 1965, sailing it back to England via Arabia and East Africa.
During the five years Sir Robin spent in India, and the many return visits he has made since, he picked up many recipes and cooking tips from the families he stayed with and the friends he made there and is very well known now himself for his curry making and his famously spicy lime pickle.
For London restaurateur Lawrence, Indian food is his heritage. His Grandmother, Alice Price, was born in Ahmedabad, in North West India. His Grandfather was from Karachi, which was India at the time but is now Pakistan. Same as Sir Robin, they lived together in Bombay during WWII.
Continuing Lawrence’s culinary voyage of discovery, he joined Sir Robin at East Coast Singapore restaurant, Zaffron Kitchen yesterday afternoon to share Indian pickle recipes and put them to a professional taste test.
Lawrence prepared the ingredients to make his Grandmothers lemon pickle, a dish he tasted regularly in his youth but has actually never actually made himself before. The ingredients included, ginger, garlic, turmeric, paprika, mustard seed, sugar, lemon juice and sliced lemons which were salted overnight in preparation.
In the restaurant’s kitchen, Lawrence guided Sir Robin though his preparation process, simmering the ingredients together over conversation as the flavours combined and the pickle took shape.
Lawrence also bought along a mango and a lime pickle, made by a security guard at the One15 Marina’s mother who took an interest in the project.
Sir Robin’s contribution was the latest batch of his lime pickle, which he has been marinating for the past three months, to reach optimum spice level. He keeps the recipe a guarded secret however as it was only passed on to him by the Bombay based family he lived with after much persuasion.
Once the pickling process was complete, award winning Zaffon Kitchen, Executive Chef, Satish Madaan was called in to give his expert opinion. He was clearly impressed by all the dishes, as he remarked. “All the pickles were very different, in texture, appearance, spice level and taste. From sweet, light and delicately spicy, to robust, bold and punchy, these pickles were a real sensory experience.
“Lawrence’s Grandmothers recipe was very zesty and I think it will mature very nicely after a few more days. It is clear to say that Sir Robin’s pickle was by far the spiciest. He certainly enjoys a very strong chilli flavour and it was very authentic tasting.”
Commenting on the cooking experience, Sir Robin said: “I fell in love with India quickly during my time there as I found the people, the place and the food just incredible. I have very fond memories of my time in Bombay and feel quickly at home whenever I return.
“Cooking with Lawrence today and smelling all the familiar, wonderful aroma’s just takes me right back there. It was a wonderful experience and I’m glad my pickle was a success. My thanks go to Lawrence and Satish for allowing me to share my passion with them.”
Lawrence equally enjoyed the afternoon, as he said: “It was a real pleasure getting to cook with Sir Robin today. I been looking forward to getting into the kitchen with him for a long time as I’ve heard all about his passion for curry making.
“It was also very special for me to share my Grandmothers pickle recipe and actually prepare it myself for the first ever time. My Grandmother was one of the people who inspired my love of food and cooking from a young age. Today took me right back to some very early, happy memories, which I was incredibly honoured to share with Sir Robin.”
Since leaving London at Race Start, Lawrence, who owns London restaurant, Simplicity, has teamed up with local chefs in Brest, France, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Albany, Sydney and now Singapore in his campaign to combine his Clipper Race world journey with his passion for cooking and culture.
The full pickle making was filmed for inclusion in the official Clipper 2013-14 Race documentary after the race, but a sneak preview will be posted on the Clipper Race You Tube page shortly. www.youtube.com/ClipperRTW
Race 9 to Qingdao, China departs Wednesday, 19th February.