Here are some top tips from Club Mahindra's Culinary Genius Chef Debraj Bhaumik that will help you get rid of monotonous food. Read on to know more about him.
In the north, wheat is a prominent part of the diet with the rotis and parathas. As you head east, you see fish and meat curries served with rice. To the west, food such as lentils and pickles complement the high temperature. In the south, interesting ingredients such as curry leaves and tamarind are a part of their unique dishes.
The immense depth, character and love in every recipe that has been passed on from generation to generation tie the different cuisines of the various states together.
As delicious as Indian cuisine is, our daily food can get repetitive and boring. To help us solve the millennial problem of monotonous daily food, we interviewed culinary genius Chef Debraj Bhaumik from Club Mahindra resorts. Here is what he had to say:
Where does your love for food come from?
“My love for food comes from the days when I used to help my mother and grandmother in the kitchen. Coming from a family of foodies, food has always been a prominent part of my life but my real appreciation for cooking came from my time in the kitchen as a child. The hospitality industry was never on my radar until I started flourishing in my classes and slowly but surely, passion turned into a profession.”
What is your biggest source of inspiration when it comes to food?
“That would be my mother. She was a calm force in the kitchen and her food was unanimously loved by all family members and friends. She was a confidant in the kitchen that held my hand and taught me how to do everything from kneading to rolling. What makes it memorable is that she always made sure I had fun while cooking which inspires me even today to never think of my profession as a job.”
What kind of ingredients do you think daily cooks should use more?
“Fresh produce all the way! In this day and age of processed food, the nutritional value of food has been lost. Daily cooks should try to use natural products while cooking, whether it’s fresh vegetables from your small backyard (if you have the space for it) or food that isn’t loaded with preservatives. A simple example would be to drink a glass of lemonade made from freshly squeezed lemons rather than packed juices.”
What is a simple way to make daily food more creative and exciting?
“Small things go a long way. We as adults put all our efforts in making interesting food for our kids but feed ourselves rajma (kidney beans) and steamed rice. To break the monotony, you can mash up the rajma and roll it up in a roti like the Mexicans do with a burrito. Or you can chop up some garlic and onions and add it to your dough. There are many ingredients that can enhance the taste of daily food and it requires minimum effort.”
How can one make food tasty and healthy?
“Healthy vs. Tasty can turn into quite a debate, but in my opinion, you can have the best of both worlds. A nutritious but loathed orange and carrot juice can become your favourite drink with just the addition of a little black rock salt. Using ghee instead of oil in your daily food enhances the taste but also keeps it healthy. It is best to steer away from the myths and eat without compromising on taste.”
How did you as a chef push the boundaries of food at Club Mahindra?
“I directed my efforts into three aspects. Firstly, I try to stay updated with all the trends in the world of food and implement them in my own kitchen.
Secondly, I am aware that my customers come from all walks of life – there are well-travelled people and there are those that take a vacation once in 5 years – I make my food and ideas available to all of them at affordable prices without compromising on the quality.
Lastly, I give maximum exposure to my staff which rewarded me recently when they came to me and said ‘Sir, remember that technique you showed us in class last week? We saw that on Masterchef Australia last night.’”
What are your thoughts on India’s culinary diversity? How do you integrate the different cuisines into your cooking?
“India has a whole list of illustrious cuisines and even after being in the Indian food scene for 18 years, I still only know a small part of it. One thing I’ve learnt is that Indian food will always be in demand, so even if you have a pan Asian buffet, people will always ask for their ‘dal and naan.’ The Club Mahindra resorts are present in almost every part of the country so whenever I plan on having food from a particular state on my menu, I invite the chefs from one of our properties to help us out. The cross exposure within our country through food is a great thing to see.”
What are the ‘go-to’ ingredients or tools that every daily cook must have in store?
“Here are 4 ingredients/tools that I feel many won’t have in store and probably should; naturally extracted oil for all cooking purposes, local grains such as millets, jaggery as a healthy substitute for sugar and mortar and pestle instead of grinders. I suggested mortar and pestle because I feel that when you manually grind spices, the taste elevates to a new level.”
What tips do you recommend to make restaurant quality food at home?
“In my opinion, there is no need to have restaurant quality food at home. It is called home food for a reason. Home cooks have the power of social media on their side. A cursory scroll through Instagram, YouTube or Facebook will give you many videos with ideas on how to make home food more interesting without trying to make it look like fine dining. Above all, trust your taste buds and your sense of smell and keep it simple. When I say keep it simple I mean that ‘Aloo Jeera’ should just be Aloo Jeera and its respective spices – there is no need for anything extra.”
What are your final thoughts on the current state of the food industry in India and its impact on the consumers?
“The food industry in India is constantly evolving and innovative ideas flow like water from every corner of the country. The only thing that remains constant is that the customer is king. If Punjab by Nature’s concept of pizza naan (Naanza) worked, it is because the customers seek something different from the usual. The best way to keep up is to constantly keep the wheels turning and cook from the heart like how our mothers and grandmothers did. In Indian cuisine, love is definitely the secret and special ingredient.”