FEATURE: THE HINDU SUNDAY MAGAZINE/WEBER GRILLS


License to grill

SHEILA KUMAR







When Manu Chandra cooks, the world (happily) eats. And now it transpires that when Manu Chandra talks, the world eagerly listens. And so it was that Weber Grills hit upon a brilliant idea: of having this uber chef tell people all about the finer points of grilling… Which was how people gathered at the Weber Experience Center in Ulsoor, Bangalore … and then, Manu Chandra took over.

As expected, Chandra's sheer charisma (even if kept deliberately low-key) tended to slightly overwhelm the event at times. In something under a couple of hours, Chandra discussed the lesser known aspects of cooking meat (acid on meat while cooking; as in lime juice? No), waxed positively lyrical over the correct set of knives (which, any culinary aficionado will tell you, is truly something to wax lyrical over), shared some invaluable tips on grilling green plantain with fish, the myriad uses of leftover rice, onion jus as marinade, and much more.

Lively affair
After which the Q&A session started and it was a lively affair with some pertinent questions being put to Chandra by people who seem well versed in the art of skillet and pan. To the less- than- expert cook, this was a slew of more information: the correct time to add salt while cooking, the exact way to fillet a fish and a pineapple, the pros and cons of marbled meat, and the like.

This was followed by the main event, which was the Licensed-to-Grill session where the assembled guests tried their hand at grilling veggies, meat and fish on the compact, sleek and oh-so-efficient Weber grills. Watched over by the laconic but alert Manu Chandra, of course.

It has to be said that the Weber grills seemed quite uncomplicated and the end result was definitely toothsome. They come in charcoal and gas models, are specially set up for Indian LPG cylinder specifications and fall in the price range of Rs. 7,995 to Rs. 1,79,995. The special features include a stainless steel burner system, glass-reinforced and maintenance-free nylon handles, no-rust aluminium vent and a removable ash catcher.

Many accessories
What's more, there are a number of accessories on offer too, like the Rapid Fire Chimney Starter, Cleaning Brush, Skewer Set, Digital Thermometer, Drip Pans... And that's not all; if you want the smoky flavour that charcoal imparts, then Weber supplies charcoal briquettes that are a great substitute for charcoal. These eco-friendly briquettes are made from coconut shell waste; they burn hotter, emit less smoke and ash. Accessories are priced between Rs. 795 to Rs. 9,995.

The session gave us first-hand tips on the various stages of barbecue grilling: from how to light a charcoal grill, marinating techniques for vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods, working on the gas and the charcoal grill, barbecue tips and techniques.

Great fun, flavoursome food and family bonding, says the tagline to the Weber grill literature. While one could not vouch for the last sentiment, the guests did have fun and got to taste some flavoursome food.

Eventually, all the foods were grilled and relished; the grilling process was parsed in great detail and everyone went home happy. And determined to acquire a Weber grill. Now if only a Manu Chandra came free with every grill.


Grill tips
What to look for: Make sure a one-time bargain doesn't turn into a long-term disappointment. Invest in a good grill so you can focus on dinner, not the toolbox.
Solid construction: A good, well-built grill will feel solid and sturdy; a poorly made grill will wiggle. Choose a grill made of high grade steel. Also opt for a baked-on, porcelain-enamel finish. The legs should be sturdy, wheels should roll easily, and the grill should display a good fit and finish. Cooking grates are generally made from heavy-duty plated steel or chrome-plated aluminium. A thicker, heavier-gauge grate will last longer, distribute and retain heat better. Grates coated with porcelain enamel are a common step-up feature. The best grates are made of cast iron, stainless steel, or porcelain-coated aluminium or cast iron.
Assembly: When you buy a barbecue you want to grill, not drill; so easy assembly is a priority. Some grills require hours (and an engineering degree) to assemble.
Service & maintenance: Look for top-notch after-market service and thorough, easy-to-read information, and a toll-free service line.
Safety: A good grill controls heat easily, has handles that stay cool to the touch, and has added safety features.
Long warranty: It makes sense. The best manufacturers can afford to stand behind their products.
Info courtesy Weber Barbecues and Grills
The Weber Experience Center at Bangalore is at # 11/2 Haudin Road, Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore 560042. 


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