my dish come true
Good eats come from good chefs. So what makes a good chef ‘the best chef?’ It definitely requires more much than spending several hours in the kitchen, sweating over the hot stove and commandeering an army of obedient staff. More than cooking skills, it’s about a mix of creativity and talent. Let’s meet India’s most renowned chefs who are pushing boundaries in and out of the kitchen…
With her creative outlook and robust personality, Ritu Dalmia has emerged as a standout female celebrity chef in an industry largely dominated by men. But she had to work her way to success. Born to a family of marble merchants in Kolkata, Dalmia earned her father’s ire when she ditched the family business to become a chef. Interestingly, she has no catering college background and is largely self-taught. After a failed attempt with her first restaurant MezzaLuna, Dalmia went to London to open Vama, an Indian restaurant. But it wasn’t until 2000 when she opened her now famous Italian restaurant Diva in Greater Kailash that she catapulted into the mainstream. Her popular television shows Italian Khana and Travelling Diva on NDTV Good Times furthered her celebrity status, particularly because she shares a story from her fascinating life about each of her dishes. Dalmia now owns five restaurants each unique and interesting in its own way, as well as her own catering business. An expert Italian chef, Dalmia is known for her biting wit and unadulterated honesty concerning all things food- and chef-related.
This charming chef’s prowess doesn’t end with television and restaurants, though. She’s written a couple of cookbooks too. And guess where did Dalmia have the most flavourful Italian food in the world? At the Sandoway Resort on Ngapali Beach in Burma. “I tried very hard to steal their chefs - who, by the way, were all local Burmese - but like good Buddhists they were content with what they had,” laughs the critically acclaimed chef.
Ritu Dalmia’s Recipe for Prawn and Pomelo salad
200g medium sized steamed prawns,
100g diced spring onions,
50g sliced shredded coconut,
1 medium sized onion, sliced,
100g pomelo peeled,
1 stalk lemon grass, only the soft part.
For the dressing
1 tbsp red chilli paste,
2 tbsp, extra virgin olive oil,
handful of shredded basil,
2 tbsp jaggery water,
2 tbsp roasted peanut/hazelnut,
salt, 1 tbsp lemon juice
In a dry mixing bowl, whisk the oil, jaggery water, lemon juice and chilli paste. Add the shredded basil and season with salt in another bowl mix all the ingredients for the salad. Add the dressing and give it a good massage. Serve with a sprinkling of roasted peanut and hazelnut.
Restaurants: Diva, Café at the Italian Culture Centre, Café Diva, Latitude 28, Diva Piccola, Diva Kitsch – all in Delhi.
If good food is the hottest lifestyle trend, then Manu Chandra is the coolest kid on the block. Chandra started wielding the ladle ever since he turned 12, thanks largely to a foodie family. So it was hardly a surprise when he opted for it professionally. After a degree from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) New York he travelled to Norway to work with the Michelin starred Chef Eyvind Hellstrom at Bagatelle.
At Chandra’s immensely popular Bengaluru restaurants- Monkey Bar, Likethatonly and Olive Beach, he is not just known for his innovative western food which focuses on freshness but also the use of local ingredients. A lover of slow cooking, he leans towards painstakingly controlled and cooked things, a process that enables one to extract flavours and textures.
A minimalist, Chandra believes that removing an ingredient rather than adding one usually improves the flavour of a dish. Always seasonal, always simple, Chandra tries to get every ingredient to speak, even scream, volumes. This recipient of many awards and accolades has an irreverent take on food-Pork Sorpotel wind up in little jam pots, the traditional Coorg delicacy Pandi Curry is paired with warm grilled Pita Bread, brain fry and offal are moved out of their traditional Jama Masjid bastion to be presented in a whole new avatar. Taking the most ubiquitous of things and giving them a spin, a nudge towards being cool and so very relevant seems to be Chandra’s mantra.
Manu Chandra’s Recipe for Quick Murg Hen
3 (cut into 7pcs) chicken breast,
20ml bacardi white rum,
1tsp synthetic vinegar,
2tsp caramel, 1/2tsp white pepper powder,
1tsp chopped ginger, onion powder and garlic powder,
1/2tsp coriander powder and black pepper ,
1/4tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp galangal,
1tsp green curry paste, 1/2tsp broth powder, 1/2tsp
chili paste, 1/2tsp mustard oil and coconut vinegar,
1tsp barbeque sauce, 2 sticks wooden skewers
(soaked overnight), basil mayo-accompaniment
• Cut the chicken breasts into 7 pieces.
• In bowl, mix all the ingredients to prepare the marinade
• Add the chicken pieces, coating each piece thoroughly with the marinade.
• Put the pieces onto wooden skewers.
• Allow the chicken to marinate for minimum 3-4
hours. Recommended to be kept overnight
• Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan, and sear the chicken for 3 minutes on each side.
• In between lightly baste it with barbeque sauce.
• Once done, serve hot on a plate with Basil Mayo
Restaurants: Monkey Bar, Likethatonly, Olive Beach – all in Bengaluru
Junior MasterChef fame Chef Jolly has done it all—travelled and cooked with Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur royalty, Nawab Mehboob Alam Khan, the giant of Hyderabadi cuisine, cooked in the bylanes of Lucknow, perfected the Kulchas in Amritsar dhabas and farmed in Pampore on the outskirts of Kashmir during the saffron harvest. Jolly’s approach to cooking combines a touch of the poetic with a dash of simplicity and a spoonful of wistfulness for dishes that appear as straight from the heart. He’s not about delivering fancy, overly complex meals and tastes. Instead, Jolly prefers to take dishes down to their basic, most simple elements and to recombine them in a way that produces wonderful meals.
The warm, fuzzy, playful and friendly Jolly has also cooked for Paris Hilton when she visited India. “We cooked 69 dishes for her! I remember making Barbary Duck Biryani cooked in the Awadhi way with young garlic shoots, skimmed milk yogurt in an earthen pot sourced from Jaipur,” says the chef. Despite having travelled the world on his culinary quest, he still finds comfort in his mother’s Bhindi, saag and churi (a traditional Punjabi dish). Shortcuts and casual attitude towards cooking are not welcome in this maestro’s
Surjan Singh Jolly’s Recipe for Crab Cakes, Mustard-Yogurt
90g crab meat, 2g lemon zest fresh, 5g ginger very finely chopped, 5g banana shallot fine chop, 5g celery fine chop, 4g coriander fresh, 1/4 egg for binding, 2ml Worchester sauce, 5g dijon mustard, 13g mayonnaise, 1g mild red chilly fresh, 5ml lemon juice. For crab cake and sauce, 2g garlic fine chop for sauce, 10ml rapeseed oil, mix baby greens 10g clean and refreshed, 1/2 Lemon for plate, 15g yoghurt, 1 dates sliced for side salad, 3 pecan nuts toasted for side salad,
• Sauté celery, shallots and chilly in rapeseed oil. Let it cool.
• Make a mixture of mayonnaise, using 1/4 of the Dijon mustard, egg and Worchester sauce.
• Gently fold the above mixture with crabmeat, mayo mixture, lemon zest, coriander herb and ginger juice. Make cakes of this mixture by packing it lightly using fingers and palms and ensuring not to make.
• Sear the crab cake till golden brown color on both the sides or for a minute each and finish in the oven for 4 minutes at 180oC.
• Serve with greens- rocket, beetroot leaves and pea soot, dates, pecan nuts, seasoning.
• Also serve with half a lemon and the Dijon mustard yogurt
sauce (For the sauce; sauté the garlic, let it cool and mix with whisked yogurt, remaining 1/2 of the Dijon mustard, co riander leaf, mayonnaise and lemon juice, check for
JW Marriott Bengaluru
Gresham Fernandes didn’t always harbour ambitions to be an award-winning chef. He wanted to be a musician instead. But growing up in a Christian joint family in Bandra with his father’s four brothers and innumerable cousins, and a matriarch with legendary culinary skills led him to a career that has become a way of life for him. From the frying pan of Rizwi College of Hotel Management to the fire of The Leela’s five-star kitchen under the Executive Chef Frank Mueller provided Gresham with the finishing touches.
A three-month stint at Noma in Copenhagen, one of the world’s finest restaurants helped hone his skills. The culinary virtuoso has developed a fresh and imaginative technique that incorporates, among other things, his Bandra roots and his quest for innovation. A magician with flavours, Fernandes uses progressive techniques to meld flavours you wouldn’t even dream of combining. Favourite ingredient to cook with? Any kind of meat. Visit Smoke House Room and you will know. Almost anything served here is a triumph of precision; you feel as if he was cooking just for you, and you a powerful restaurant critic. His 16 course Grand Degustation is disarmingly, sexily delicious. Fernandes’s favourite dish remains his mom’s chicken Khuddi (chicken cooked with roasted coconut and onions), pork Sorpotel and hand breads.
Gresham Fernandes’s Recipe for Flourless chocolate fudge
500g dark chocolate,
250g castor sugar,
15g coffee powder
• Melt the chocolate, castor sugar and butter on double boiler together.
• Once done leave it aside to cool down.
• Separate the egg yolk and whisk the egg whites to soft peaks.
• Once the chocolate mixture is cooled down mix the egg yolks and coffee powder in it, fold the egg whites later in the chocolate mix.
• Butter a cake tin and place aluminium foil in it, pour the chocolate mix in it bake in the oven at 170 degrees for 40 min.
• Once done cool down and flip to take out the foil carefully.
Group Executive Chef – Fine Dine Division - IEHPL
Restaurants: Mocha, Smoke House Room, Salt Water Café