Just over two years since he landed in the city, 27-year-old Anurag Bali has already had Delhiites eating out of his hands. Quite literally. Bali’s experiment started with Sevilla, the Spanish restaurant launched early this year at the Claridges hotel — complete with the Spanish tapas (bite sized appetisers) as also Italian and Moroccan dishes. “Delhi is exploding with new flavours everyday. It’s a great time to do different concepts,” says Bali, an alumnus of CIA (Culinary Institute of America) at New York.
Bali is among the new crop of chefs in the city: young, innovative and already cooking up a storm. Armed with international experience, they are ready to give Delhi a taste of everything from elaborate Mediterranean platters to Japanese grills.
Take the Le Cordon Bleu trained chef Shrivant Rajgarhia, for instance. After a course at one of the top culinary schools, Rajgharia couldn’t wait to head back to Delhi. “What’s unique here is the seasons: they give you scope to play around with various flavours and ingredients,” says the 33-year-old, who’s also a Boston school of management alumnus. While Boston taught him management skills, at Cordon Bleu he got his basics right — concepts that he intended to use when set up the Azzurro kitchen and bar in Saket. “Concepts like mis en place or getting the ingredients arranged in advance, so that the chef can cook can get the dish ready as soon as the order is placed, have helped me deliver a better product,” he says. For his menu, Rajgarhia chose a good mix of Italian, North African, Tunisian and Moroccan flavours with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and dhania, that were common with Indian cuisine. “I knew the city is very unforgiving when it comes to their food. So I had to get it right.”
For chef Pankaj Ambardar, however, it was all about “getting back to his roots.” With ten years of experience at Senshusha, a chain of restaurants in Japan, 35-year-old Ambardar set out to rework the menu at the Enoki, Japanese restaurant at the Grand hotel. “I was a little apprehensive initially. But I realised things have changed.Now people are ready to taste the ‘authentic’ stuff,” he says. More interaction with the customers, better quality of ingredients and a wide range, Amabardar feels Delhi’s cuisine culture is finally coming of age.
Adds Bali, “Many of Delhi’s restaurants will soon be heading to Mumbai, even as many of theirs are setting shop here. It’s already a global city with a cuisine culture to match.” And equally global ‘kitchen kings’ to rustle it all up.