Bite into golden fried samosas to find gooey chocolate melt into your mouth, or try some tangy pani-puri served with a peg of Bloody Mary, topped with salted lassi. Well, all this ain’t a crazy imagination of a crazy mind but some of the unique dishes created by India-born UK-based Michelin star chef Vineet Bhatia, who was recently in the Capital as a part of his latest mission to give his signature ‘twist’ to local cuisine.
Innovation is the key Strange as it may sound, Bhatia, winner of the Best in Britain Award and the Chef of the year by London daily, Evening Standard, never really wanted to become a chef. In fact, he wanted to fly jets! “Somehow that didn’t happen but I wanted to do something where everyday would be different!” says Bhatia, who, after working for a few years with the Oberoi Hotels moved to the UK. “Back then, Indians didn’t want to experiment with food whereas the scope for innovation was much more in Europe,” says the owner of restaurant chain, Rasoi.
Interestingly, 45 years hence, it is that same hunt for innovation that has brought him back to India. This time, for a television show titled, Twist of Taste with Vineet Bhatia, for Fox History & Traveller that he will be co-hosting with his wife Rashima, travelling to 13 Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Amritsar, Jodhpur and Goa, and adding his signature touch to the local cuisine.
Elaborating more about the show, Bhatia, says, “In the show, first we explore the local favourite cuisine of the city and then Rashima gives me a challenge by asking me to give an uncanny makeover to that dish. Like, in Chennai, she challenges me to give an instant makeover to their filter coffee and I turned it into a coffee burfee with pongal ice-cream.” That’s not all. The chef promises to give unprecedented makeovers to most other regional delights too. Say, for instance in Delhi, when Karim’s Seekh Kebabs caught his attention, he turned them into succulent balls with a bit of his magic and grated cheese. Down South, he gave a European touch to the all-time favourite Uttapam by presenting it as a lasagna.
Bhatia is also a contender to replace actor Akshay Kumar as the host for the second season of MasterChef India. So, is he the chosen one? “You will soon get to know,” he smiles, even as he presents before us a mouth watering dish of French fries with his special garnishing.