‘Regional delicacies yet to be explored by the masses’
Chef Ankur Chakraborty agrees regional dishes are setting newer culinary standards
Indian culinary history has been vibrant and diverse, more so as it has seen the amalgamation of various cultures come and leave an impression on gastronomy. The culinary culture took a new form as new trade routes were explored, invasions happened and new ingredients experimented with, and cultivated here. A few classic examples being inclusion of tomatoes and chillies in the kitchen. “These ingredients were not indigenous. Today, it is difficult to imagine Indian food without them. I believe these adaptions will continue to happen and the cuisine will evolve to take a new shape, one that is very global and will change the perception of Indian food as a more approachable dining option,” shares Chef Ankur Chakraborty, Co-Founder, The Crossings, Dubai.
The ace chef, along with Masters of Marriott Bonvoy, gave Bengalureans a taste of his signature creations at The Ritz-Carlton Bangalore, by transporting them in time to relish some of the finest regional delicacies of India. “The chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers have long tried to build a strong product differentiation around the cuisine. However, we need to be blunt and straightforward with this and drop the Western lease or filter when defining modern food,” feels Chef Ankur. On offer among many other delicacies were regional classics like Thukpa, an 18-hour slow-cooked beef broth, with noodles, mushrooms and black garlic; Butter Chicken presented in its unbiased, original avatar; Mangalorean Bun, Scallop Bean Thoran, a blend of edamame beans, coconut and chilli; Mutton Pulav, a quintessential Indian homemade dish to name a few.
Armed with a degree in hotel and hospitality management, Chef Ankur comes with over one-and-a-half decade of experience in high impact leadership roles in the F&B industry, both as a chef and a business leader. In an interview with BW HOTELIER, the former General Manager of Tablez food company, UAE, a subsidiary of the retail conglomerate LuLu Group talks about chefs with deep understanding of regional delicacies and a contemporary mindset setting newer culinary standards, Indian regional dishes redefining global culinary scene and the role of technology in restaurants today. Excerpts:
How are Indian regional delicacies redefining the culinary scene globally?
In my opinion, gastronomy reflects how the entire world has been progressing. In the last decade, technology, the emerging youth population, millennials and Gen Z have seen the world shrinking, and experiences have become more adventurous. As a result, the awareness levels have been increasing, and rightly so.
In the case of Indian cuisine, a lot of talented chefs are breaking the ceiling by adapting unexplored regional fare with ingredients and cooking styles. The identity of commercial Indian restaurants has long been very similar with the representation of cuisine from a certain part of the country. However, more often than not, these dishes are seldom consumed in the household.
In the past, I always saw two types of Indian restaurants – commercially successful north Indian restaurants and generic south Indian ones or region-specific micro-cuisine-led restaurants servicing a particular micro-community. Now things are evolving and the palates are evolving. The onset of regional Indian flavours has opened up a new road to discovering the cuisine. India has always been unfair to be represented only by a specific type of food. The regional Indian cuisine has been so far very well accepted across the globe and it’s just the beginning.
Chefs equipped with deep understanding of regional delicacies with a contemporary mindset are setting newer culinary standards, right?
Completely agree. The regional delicacies are yet to be explored and brought out to the larger masses. And while doing this, many talented chefs are steadily using familiarity to introduce a new regional cooking style or an ingredient, which is very effective in broadening mindsets and palates.
Can you let us know more on the use of technology in restaurants today?
Cooking and restaurant management have adapted very well to a lot of technology, making consistent food delivery possible and ensuring that profitability margins are well-calibrated. Starting from recipe management tools to inventory management software, there has been a lot of progress made.
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