The first thing you notice about Saransh Goila (28) is his love for over-the-top hand gestures. Though he calls himself an introvert, nothing about his personality would give that away. He smiles a lot, is expressive and articulate, and can talk about food endlessly. “I was a shy kid in school. I was chubby, my hair was always parted sideways, and I had a Humpty Dumpty-like walk. I was 93kg till I was in college,” says Goila.
From his ‘chubby’ days at the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Aurangabad, to featuring in the Limca Book of Records for being the first Indian chef to travel 20,000km by road in 100 days for a travel show, Goila has come a long way, quite literally. And now, the Delhi-born chef is all set to kick off his first venture, Goila Butter Chicken, a delivery service, in Mumbai.
No guilt trip
Enter ‘Saransh Goila’ in the Google search box, and butter chicken is the first result that pops up. What’s so special about his version, we ask. “I add very little butter, and I don’t add any cream. So, it is guilt-free,” he says. Not convinced, we probe further and ask for his secret ingredient. “When Italians want to make a good, chunky Neapolitan sauce, they use the San Marzano tomatoes. For the butter chicken, I like to use a specific variety of tomatoes; they need to be just blossomed, not too ripe, and should have some green in them,” says Goila, as he bites into the butter chicken at JW Cafe in Andheri. But the real clincher is the smoky flavour of his gravy, achieved by adding smoked coal to butter and letting it settle on the dish.
Over the last two years, fans of Goila’s butter chicken have created a dedicated hashtag for this signature creation — #Goilabutterchicken “I started getting requests from people in Pune, Surat and Delhi. People from across cultures wanted to try it. That’s when I figured that butter chicken has a universal appeal,” says Goila.
The young chef is already in the process of setting up his kitchen in Andheri and will start deliveries by March. Apart from his now famous creation, on offer will be dishes like butter chicken sandwich and butter chicken pizza. “I want to do some signature desserts as well, like dark chocolate kheer and gajar halwa cheesecake,” Goila says.
The early days
Goila realised his love for cooking at the age of 12, at an uncle’s wedding. “It was 2am, and all the women in the house had mehendi on their hands. I could see they were hungry, so I ran to the kitchen and made aloo parathas for everyone,” he says.
However, it was his love for acting that grew stronger in his teenage years. “After college, I enrolled for an acting course at the Barry John Acting Studio. In fact, he offered me a job, but I still wanted to cook and act, both at the same time. I wanted to do what Chef Sanjeev Kapoor was doing,” Goila says. But this was the pre-MasterChef era, and there was little for an ‘actor-chef’ to do. However, things changed with the launch of food-focused channels like Zee Khana Khazana and Food Food. And, Goila found his true calling.
His first television appearance was as a participant in Food Food Maha Challenge, which was hosted by Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit-Nene. Goila won the competition and bagged a travel-based television show on Food Food. “The show was called Roti, Rasta aur India. Being on the show put me on the map. I discovered myself on this journey,” he says. His recently launched book, India on my Platter, is based on the 100-day journey across the length and breadth of the country.
Apart from TV shows, Goila also hosts cooking shows on his YouTube channel. “I am planning to do a travel-based show for the web, similar to my earlier show Spice Traveller (a travel series). I plan to explore Australia or South Africa,” he says. Apart from this, he plans to take his butter chicken venture to cities like Bengaluru and Chennai. “I am happy that so many chefs are starting their own ventures. Finally, they have the confidence that someone will invest in them,” he says.
To know more about Saransh Goila’s upcoming projects, follow him on Twitter; he tweets as @SaranshGoila
Favourite thing to eat in the city: Egg ghotala at Cooper Hospital, vada pao on Juhu Church Road
Favourite café: Indigo
Favourite bar: Woodside Inn, Andheri and Colaba
Favourite Irani: Britannia, Ballard Estate
Favourite restaurant: The Bombay Canteen, Lower Parel