Nowadays as the world is globalizing, food from every country is getting popular. We are eating and enjoying dishes from different countries; that some of us have never even heard of a few years earlier. The other day, I read somewhere that Japanese Sushi and Katsu Curry, Arabic Falafel, British Fish and Chips, Nepalese Momos, Thai Curries, Mexican Tapas, Indian Chicken Tikka Masala etc. are some of the most popular dishes worldwide. I was amazed to know that Chicken Tikka Masala is considered Indian. As I have learnt, this dish was just created accidentally for a British person who wanted to have a very mild curry with Tandoori Chicken. So the chef took some Indian tomato sauce which is readily available in the kitchen; added some cream and some sugar and put the tikka pieces together to create a dish to match the palate of his British guest. And there, he created the famous Chicken Tikka Masala.
A quest started in my mind of which dishes are authentically Indian. I curiously tried to ask my friends. Everyone had a different dish on their mind. Some said a Dal, some said a Sambar, some debated for Murg Makhanwala or some insisted Fish Koliwada. I realized that every region of India has a specialty dish and every Indian too has one on the back of his mind. In fact every individual has a dish very close to his heart “Homemade Dal”. To my surprise, every person had a variation in the recipe of their version of Dal. Some add tadka, some don’t and some people put mustard seeds while some put cumin, some put green chillies and some put red chillies and so on. Even those reading this blog must have a recipe for a Dal which will be different than the ones I mentioned. But to everyone’s surprise, every recipe is for a simple homemade dal. And all are unique. The Dal will have completely different ingredients, spices and probably one million recipes. But no one can challenge any one of them because the basics and the purpose of the Dal is the same. It is cooked with some lentil and to be eaten with rice or chapati/roti.
I have realized cooking any dish as per a customer’s liking would make him feel happier. A Chef should think “Out of the Box”. If the dish makes a guest nostalgic, makes him feel at home, the Chef attains contentment. So my approach towards food is keep the basics right and play with the ingredients and spices until you get the best desirable taste. It could vary region to region as per availability of ingredients and the purpose to be fulfilled.
Every Hotel Management and Catering College teaches students to cook food, to be good in their basics of cooking and culinary skills. I teach students to cook with an “Attitude” to think “Out of the Box”. I teach them to cook with love, with a joy to make the guest feel comfortable. If the Chef can sense the need of the customer and touch their heart through food, he attains serenity. To be successful, a chef needs to interact with the guests, find out their tastes and make his diners feel good; he needs to be unique to think differently. This is exactly what I inculcate in my students.
Chef Raviraj Gai,
Faculty – Hotel Operations
Kohinoor International Management Institute,